What does an organisation do when its been rumbled?

By Tony Attwood

When an organisation is battered into a corner the best way out is subterfuge, to make it look as if you are doing something when doing nothing, to suggest x is the issue when it is y and above all to stop people talking about z.  The generic terms are “putting up a smoke screen”, “laying false trails”, “muddying pools” and the like.

So we see the Daily Telegraph, the PR front of the PGMO (the organisation that employs and selects referees) which is arguing that, “It is deeply frustrating that the governing body cannot see that refereeing in this country is teetering towards crisis. Many players, managers and fans have just lost faith in English referees.”

“Oh,” we might think, if we are indeed prone to thinking things like “oh”.  What now?  The Telegraph backing away from its out and out support of the PGMO?

Well, no, because the Telegraph is turning its ire not on PGMO, who through deciding to run an organisation whose secrecy is so overwhelming that they are said to give advice to the Security Service and Military Intelligence departments of the UK government (known in common parlance as MI5 (for uprisings within the kingdom), and MI6 (for operations overseas).)

No, Utlra Secretive PGMO can breathe easily in their deep bunkers far removed from reality.  The ploy has worked.  Their chums in Victoria, working at the Telegraph (a newspaper originally set up to sell to be read by the retired officer class in the Empire) are up to the mark.

For the Telegraph is after the FA.

They speak of “words that shame the FA and will surely lead to renewed calls for a shake-up of its disciplinary department”

And they quote an FA statement in relation to the match that J. Mourinho and his comrades in the Politburo have been getting so worked up about.

“The FA confirm no further action in relation to Ashley Barnes, as the incident was seen by the officials. In the vast majority of challenges for the ball, no retrospective action is taken as the incident has been seen by the match officials.

“Retrospective action was introduced as a deterrent for ‘off the ball incidents’ committed out of sight of officials. The whole game is in agreement that, in the vast majority of cases, match officials are best placed to deal with incidents to avoid re-refereeing.”

“As it stands, the FA is complicit in a miscarriage of justice,” says Henry Winter getting a bit confused.   Miscarriages of justice occur, Mr Winter, when the law is wrongly applied, or the evidence is deliberately withheld.  What has happened here is that the evidence has been provided – the ref saw the event and in that split second reached his decision.  He may have been wrong in the eyes of other people, but that has got nothing to do with the justice – the rules of the game are that if the ref says he saw it, and says, “no foul”, then that is the end of the matter.

It is nothing to do with Atkinson; this is everything to do with the rules of refereeing, and the way that no one is allowed to look behind the scenes into what is actually happening with refereeing.

Suggesting that one referee should be withdrawn from footballing duty because of one decision is the sort of thing that idiot supporters do.  They take one event and say, “well if that can happen, he’s obviously useless, kick him out” without any context or broader analysis.  “FACT: Wenger is useless” – that sort of stuff.

This has all the hallmarks of the dirty tricks division PGMO putting one of their own out to dry, and deflecting attention from themselves by having their press allies shout at that one ref over that one decision.

“The whole incident and unsatisfactory aftermath damages the reputation of English refereeing around the world,” screams the Telegraph.  What tripe.  The reputation of the Premier League is damaged by the growing awareness that there is a level of bias in Premier League football, and that the PGMO is putting out figures of accuracy by refs which is simply unbelievable while deliberately restricting the number of refs available, and getting them to sign “silence clauses” at the end of their terms of duty, in return for massive pay outs.  That is what has destroyed the reputation of Premier League football.

Of course when the Telegraph says, “The FA’s claim that it can speak for “the whole game” is nonsensical and arrogant,” they are right.  The monetarily and morally bankrupt FA is arrogant beyond belief.  That is why Sport England withdrew its funding.

And the issue isn’t whether Alan Shearer described Barnes’s high tackle into Matic’s shin as “horrific” and “dangerous”.  The issue is that the regulations say that if the ref says he made a decision having seen the event, that’s that.  PGMO in its absolute secrecy will have nothing more to do with the matter.

And where is all this going?  Finally we see.

“Howard Webb and the general manager of Professional Game Match Officials, Mike Riley, have assessed the experiment going on in Holland. Riley said of the Dutch that “they should be congratulated for the foresight on behalf of world football to say, ‘How can we make this better?’ Because we can.” Because it is required.”

The Telegraph then quotes a Premier League official as saying, “Standards have been high and have been rising for a number of seasons. There is 99 per cent accuracy on offside decisions. There is 95 per cent accuracy on the major decisions. We are pretty much on a par with last season and we’ve lost Howard Webb, while Lee Probert has been out all season injured.”

As this point Mr Winter, author of the piece for the Telegraph could have said,

a) those figures are ludicrous – you only have to watch the game to know – and besides if they are true, can we see an analysis please, like they publish in Belgium?

b) there are clearly not enough referees – we are getting the same refs over and over again, and if some of them are getting things wrong we need to give them a break – but we can’t because we don’t have back ups.

They could have said either or both, but they didn’t.  And that tells us what really is going on.   When they get as far as quoting those numbers and not answering the questions they raise, we know there is something very, very wrong.

As a propaganda exercise the piece may have kept some of those ex-officers from the Empire chortling in their padded seats, but I doubt anyone else will have ended the piece without at the very least thinking, “hang on, that didn’t make any sense.”

Anniversaries of the day: Two exceptional Arsenal men

24 February 1962: George Armstrong played his first Arsenal game, v Blackpool.  He went on to play exactly 500 league games for Arsenal before moving to Leicester.

24 February 1964: William Garbutt – the man who took football to Italy, died.  He played for Woolwich Arsenal before managing Genoa, Roma, Napoli and Milan.

And if you are a Bob Dylan fan… 

You might enjoy Untold Dylan.


20 Replies to “What does an organisation do when its been rumbled?”

  1. Quality assessment of the problem, Tony.

    We are never going to get better referees until we get better journalists.

  2. Am I alone in thinking that the Barnes incident was an unfortunate accident? It looked to me as if Barnes played the ball and then caught Matic on the follow through – who had arrived suddenly from a blind angle? Barnes did not:
    1. Look at Matic – and I believe was unaware of him;
    2. Play Matic before playing the ball;
    3. Go to ground.

    Contrast with Cahill on Sanchez, where:
    1. Cahill approached from the front in a pre-meditated fashion;
    2. Went over the ball into Sanchez’s shin rather than playing the ball; and
    3. Slid in studs first.

    I have not seen a single media pundit make this comparison. I find this inexplicable. As for Barnes’ tackle being “career threatening” it did not appear to even hurt Matic judging by his reaction!

    Anyway, one good outcome may be that Atkinson is kept away from Chelsea games… which is great for everyone other than Chelsea!

    I recall Chelsea pillorying Clattenburg a couple of seasons ago. There will be an increasing number of refs out there now with a grudge against Chelsea. This is one reason, I feel, why Wenger tends to hold back. Hell – we’ve had 5.5 years of “bad luck” resulting from Wenger having a go at Riley all those years ago.

  3. Tony, the Telegraph must be the paper I’ve read the least of any of the national (yes, even the Sport) so I know very little about it.

    I’ve been following most of the stuff on the site so I was aware of it’s interest to you and why, but still to me,until recently, all i knew was that it’s a big ole conservative newspaper. Until last week.

    I’m presuming you’re well up on the story. Their chief political guy, Peter Oborne (someone I’m familiar with and someone who challenges my simplistic views of all Tories being horrible immoral bastards), has quit the paper in disgust and despair.

    Among a host of things irreconcilable to a man of integrity and one who does actually believe in his particular politics (he sadly seems not to have noticed quite how alone he is in that respect) is the fact the editorial and advertising arms of the paper have lost all separation. They were running a huge story about HSBC, who subsequently pulled their advertising (an account which brought in money the paper apparently can’t live without)…soon the order came that the investigation must be dropped, with no new negative stories about the bank, who consequently came back to the paper.

    That practice is apparently now the norm there. Big advertisers get large positive spreads about their doings, in the news section of the paper. The news breaks about further massive (possible, but really sure) corruption. The paper tries to bury it, then, following that and Oborne’s public exit and public statements about the reasons for it, they go on the offensive against news organisations who have covered the story.

    Last week they went for the sun (normally a cause for cheering here)- apparently they are guilty of not keeping news and advertising separate and apparently this has led to the suicides of two members of staff who were at least partly driven to this by the strains this bad practice put upon them.

    The telegraph caused widespread revulsion in media circles for doing this, and it led to further revelations about the work culture there. Apparently executives force journalists to write certain things, to the extent one source described the role of journalists in stories as being that of ‘pressing the keys’. The journalist in question for the Sun story had apparently been hounded all day by executives and did not feel he could do otherwise. The source said that most cannot do what Oborne did and walk away because, unlike him, it would deprive them of means to support their families. The same old shit that makes standing up against corruption difficult in all large organisations once it has taken hold.

    Pretty damn ugly, isn’t it? I mean, I’d guess it is exactly like that in the news world, just like I’d have guessed Newscorp works the way the hacking enquiry revealed it does. But still, it’s good to see you’re not some sort of cynical paranoiac.

    Anyway, that’s the Telegraph. I’d say it makes a lot of sense they and PGMOL have sniffed each others butts and decided they like what they smell.

    Now we just need to find out who tells who what keys to press at PGMOL.

  4. Pete, the Sanchez thing is killing me.

    The only positive to take is that it allows a definitive understanding of how things stand. There is not a single normal football reporter in the country. Or rather there isn’t a single normal editorial team on the sports section of any of the big news outlets. That lone wolf, or wolves, might be out there, but he/they must know by now that ,for whatever reason, it won’t fly with his organisation to make that very obvious comparison with the Sanchez tackle. They can appear normal, some of their output can be normal and even good, but stray into certain territory and it is unfailingly revealed that they are not normal. There may be other things they can’t say, but a definite one is anything about the absurd way Arsenal have been treated by refs for a decade.

    It’s pretty interesting that one of the better sports writers out there, Patrick Collins, a man who, despite working for such uber bastards as the Mail, was one of the only big names to consistently defend Wenger, while criticising the increasing moral squalor of the football world, has recently left his post as chief sportswriter there; while in the last year they have taken on a man who has no business being described as a journalist, he of outrageous trolling of Arsenal fans every week (every day on the radio with his Arsenal section), Adrian Durham.

    Interesting, and a sign that things aren’t likely to improve any time soon, and are currently worsening.

    The cherry on the cake yesterday was the Mail unexpectedly running a piece on five key incidents Chelsea have gotten away with this year. Cahill made two appearances, but neither was for the Sanchez one- one was a handball, the other was the little (though nonetheless i’d expect one of ours to see red for it) kick out he had at Kane the other week. What sane person could think that was more serious and worthy of mention than the Sanchez one? Nobody, nobody sane enough to put their trousers on the right way around and hold down a full-time job could think that.

    That came after a day of all Arsenal fans clamouring like you and I for someone, anyone, anywhere to mention the Sanchez tackle. They were aware of all that and decided to really rub our noses in it a bit.

  5. double canister

    “We are never going to get better referees until we get better journalists.”

    If you’ve ever read what I have to say on here you will know this is my ‘hobby horse’

    My premise is that the media run our referees. They are the Judge, Jury and Executioner.

    Until we get a fair and balanced media our referees will continue to Referee in accordance to there wishes.

    This weeks uproar is just an example of the criticism they will face if they fail to apply the Medias wishes by upsetting there darling Jose.

  6. @Pete
    I won’t sat too much about the refs person ace on Saturdaty but answering your point about it being an accident can only be truly answered by the Burnley player but intent iis not a factor to be considered but what sort of sways my thinking is that he ended up with both feet off the ground
    I don’t agree in entirety with Tony’s comments but I do find the FA s comments of great concern. No conspiracy or bias for me just plain incompetence

  7. Clever from arsenal.com to link to a 7am kickoff article that is next to his great rant about the referees.
    They did the same with one of our articles that was just before or after a referee rant of us.

  8. the 7am thing is utterly superb. Quite a mix of pleasure and pain to see it nailed as well as that and know it can’t get the audience and results it deserves.

  9. Well Done Tony, Walter, Rich, jambug. Here’s another side to Mr. Winter which I posted on the Monaco/George Graham article that bears repeating. In a column titled “Arsene Wenger insists his team have learned from Champions League failures” he states and I copy & paste directly from the column:

    “Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere on Wednesday, who was rested from training but should be fit to play Everton on Sunday, but are otherwise relatively untroubled by injuries.”

    Won’t bore anyone again with my take on his comments. But jambug is certainly on the mark in his post above.

  10. MikeT

    ‘but what sort of sways my thinking is that he ended up with both feet off the ground’
    ‘but what sort of sways my thinking is that I am a Chelsea supporter’ is probably more accurate.
    Finishing up with both feet off the ground is hardly proof of intent.

  11. Barnes’ tackle was a straight red intent or not. The issue in my mind is Mr. Mourinho screaming that they were hard done by neatly side stepping all the times this year when his band have been let off. Is it a man’s game when you play against Arsenal and a ballet performance when you play Burnley?

  12. GoingGoingGooner

    “The issue in my mind is Mr. Mourinho screaming that they were hard done by neatly side stepping all the times this year when his band have been let off.”

    100% correct.

    But more even than that, Mourhino would not get away with any of this if it wasn’t for the Medias complicity in it’s manufacture, hence, as you point out, the medias take that:

    “Is it a man’s game when you play against Arsenal and a ballet performance when you play Burnley?”

    That’s exactly how Fergie used to use the media, and how they happily pandered to his every word.

    If Fergie felt his team was facing a physical battle (Stoke for example) he spent the preceding week bleating in the media about protecting ‘talented’ players, and blow me down the Media lapped up every word.

    Yet, if Fergie felt his team needed to ‘get in the faces’ of there opponents (Arsenal for example) he spent the preceding week bleating about how the Referee needs to keep an eye on ‘the wimpy foreigners’ who go down at the drop of a hat, and blow me down the media lapped up every word.

    Mourhino, much the same as Fergie, has the Media rapped round his little finger and it seems whatever message he wants to get over to the Referees the Media are more than happy to do it for him.

  13. jambug
    Neville was on Talkshite last night and when asked how Man U dealt with Henry and Arsenal he again said the only way to beat Arsenal was and still is to be aggressive with them, and we all know what he means by ‘aggressive’. Now these ex Man U players are joining the media mob the truth is coming out. The sad thing is the lack of condemnation for the thuggery we have had, and are still having, inflicted on us.

  14. mick


    What exactly does that mean?

    Did they show him a video of, or even ask about:

    -RVN trying to break Coles leg?

    -He and his brother, Phil’2 foot’em’ Neville’s assault on Reyes.

    -RVN punching Freddie in the stomach, off the ball?

    -RVN stamping on Keown, off the ball?

    And ask the pertinent question. Is that what you mean by aggressive?

    Let me have a guess….hmmmmm !!

  15. jambug
    Durham had a little chuckle but as you rightly guessed didn’t ask Gary Neville to explain or elaborate on what he meant exactly by ‘aggressive’.

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