Can we really trust Riley to bring about reform?

By Walter Broeckx

The other day I read an article about Mike Riley where he talked about the mix up that has happened once again when ref Neil Swarbrick send off the wrong guy in the match Manchester City – West Bromwich Albion.

One could say sending off the wrong player is something that only happens once in 10 years or so but as we all know it also happened last year when Arsenal played at Chelsea. And to make matters worse that day,  was that the sending off itself was not correct. Oxlade-Chamberlain should have received a yellow card for his handball but it was Gibbs who was sent off in the end.

Now referees’ chief Mike Riley has said: Video technology will prevent errors like this.

It reminded me of an old Biblical expression that I had heard the other day in relation to something completely different: “So there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous who need no repentance.”

Mike Riley being the sinner in this and that is somehow an image I can see in front of me. Mike ‘Sinner’ Riley from match 50. He sure could have used a bit of video technology to prevent the dozen important errors he displayed in that match on his own.

Mike Riley said if we can believe the good old BBC : “Video technology to help referees cut out clear mistakes should be introduced in English football”.

It looks as if Mike Riley has seen the light. Hallelujah!  The light that Untold Arsenal has been pointing at for many, many years as the way to go forward when it comes to make matches being fairly and more honestly refereed. But that is Untold Arsenal of course, always (light)years ahead of the rest.

Before others even dare to think there might be a “little problem” we have analysed it and given the best solution for the benefit of football. Not for the benefit of Arsenal (even though I do admit that I think that Arsenal would benefit enormously from refs being able to have video technology) but for the benefit of football in general.

Believe me there is no worse feeling than sitting in the stadium, seeing an error with your own eyes and getting a text message from another referee saying he has seen the replay and the ref messed up. And if you don’t win because of that error or even lose, the long way home is feeling much and much longer.

Losing is not the issue, but losing when it was unfair, that is the issue for most people. I can stand losing any match as long as I know things have been done in a fair way. But when it is down to a referee making (even honest) mistakes it leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Anyway Riley continued according to the BBC: “We need to see what technology we can use to help get referees’ decisions more accurate.” “Football as a whole has to look at it.” “All it takes is a split-second lapse in concentration. Neil had four or five issues to judge in half a second and it is that type of situation that would lend itself to technology.

I can think of a few other situations where we could have some help from technology but let us leave that out of this article for the moment.

Riley said they had been to Holland (maybe tipped off by our articles some time ago?) and has seen how it has been tested in Holland. Belgium and Holland have asked FIFA and IFAB to go further but for the moment it is still a ‘NO” from those organisations. But even last week in Belgium they said that they will keep asking permission over and over and over again till it is granted. They got my full support on that!

About the technology Riley said : “Technology doesn’t provide a solution to everything but we can all think of case where a quick reference to a video replay would help us get the decision right,”

Yes we sure can, Mike. We sure can think of a few situations.

Now what is the most surprising thing in all this is the fact that it wasn’t until recently Riley and Webb came out with numbers that showed that only 20 important errors were made in the first half of the PL season this season. Ridiculous numbers,  but apart from Untold nobody dared to say so.

But now with more and more errors being made and the real facts staring them in the eyes Riley and Webb are changing their tune. Because if their numbers are correct, then why should they even bother to speak about video technology to help refs? For according to them refs hardly made any mistakes at all. So then why would they need assistance?

Could it be that the numbers they have so proudly presented were a bit further away from the truth? Have they been feeding lies to the public? Compared to our numbers it sure looked that way and looking at how they now suddenly pretend to be in favour of video technology to help those poor refs is an amazing U-turn from Mike and Howard.

Maybe the more serious media could ask the question of Riley and Webb: Where does this sudden U-turn come from? Maybe they could ask them about their previous numbers and how these numbers made the demand for video technology ridiculous.

And to me the biggest question is: should be believe them? Can we still believe them? Or are they just doing and saying these things to calm down the public who starts to ask questions?

As the four home nations have half the votes in IFAB it should be very simple to introduce video technology in the future. All they have to do is to say yes to allow countries like Belgium and Holland to introduce it. And then introduce it in the PL also.

But I somehow doubt the words of Riley. Maybe he has done too much cheating in match 50 to ever be trusted again in anything he does. He surely has earned the right to be mistrusted for ever after that day.


The books

And we are on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

36 Replies to “Can we really trust Riley to bring about reform?”

  1. Trouble with reform is, in whose interest is it going to be reformed, in football’s or or in someone else’s?
    What’s up with Theo?
    He’s not injured and he’s not playing, and he is also not signing.

  2. Kudos to sites like this that started the revolution, Every single show about the premier league and most articles talk about mistakes (bad calls) from the referees on every single game. There is even a trend to congratulate referees that actually have a good game now!!!! lol (our game against UTD).
    Its about time they realize and admit how badly they are doing, now how long it will take for actual changes…. I wouldn’t hold my breath

  3. I do not think that video technology will be allowed because it reduces the volatility of the result too much. The betting companies need to maximise the volatility for their profits. It is easier for them to influence referees than TV cameras! I think I read on this site that £5 billion is bet on each top 4 game and that each referee earns £2,000 per game.

    By the way, have you seen the latest rulings on Barcelona – possible 7 years in prison for Sandro Rossell for tax fraud and another director being prosecuted for money laundering! Fantastic stuff. Hopefully we will see prosecutions like these in the UK one day.

  4. Arthur

    I have to say I’m with you on this, sort of.

    Although I know the fortunes bet on football are enormous, and I have no doubts that ‘fixing’ does go on, but I don’t think it is that that influences Referees on a day to day basis.

    Anyone who has read my views before will know I believe the Referees, by and large, referee to an agenda laid out by the media. An agenda that is dependent on the vested interests there in.

    The referees are judged in the media and it is they, and nobody else, who determines whether a Referee has had a good, or a bad game, and that, as often as not, bears absolutely no relation to how well he actually applied the laws of the game, rather than to which team benefited or otherwise from his performance.

    Putting every decision under the scrutiny of TV replays will make Media management of the officials much more difficult. So rather than the problem of the volatility being reduced, it will be the malleability being reduced that will be the problem

    That will NOT be allowed to happen.

  5. @Pete


    The PGMO under Riley has seriously compromised the fairness and quality of English football. Riley has shown he is incapable of changing what he has created, the man must go – the important thing is that someone straight replaces him!

    The danger is that the same people who placed Riley in authority will try to replace him with a Riley Mk2.

  6. Riley is finished. Everyone now knows he is part of a major problem, though some still do not admit it yet….
    The problem is, Riley is so unsubtle, he is in danger of bringing down far richer, more powerful forces that feed off this gravy train.
    The only reason he has remained this long, I suspect is that he knows where the bodies are buried.
    A calciopoli scandal in this league, and the money will drain from it in an instant. Riley, through his incompetence and intransigence-is surely bringing us far closer the truth than some would want.
    Btw, cross Riley and his merrymen, and things happen against you

  7. I would rather let the fox to keep the henhouse than to let Riley leading a reform of the refereeing.

    Unless his first and only step in that reform is to resign and admit he was crap.

  8. 1/ I had seen the BBC headline and read the article…was expecting the UA analysis and so glad it came (as usual)!! Riley (rat face) ref, suddenly seen the light ? that will be the day…

    2/ Jamburg (as usual) SPOT ON!

  9. @Mandy Dodd interesting read although not at all surprising…sure many ‘pearls’ will appear in his autobiography!

  10. Yes, have not actually read it I am sure you are right Apo. Think he lays into the way refereeing,I’m this country is organised, and he has broken their omertà. Bet Riley is history within a few months, also bet costs someone a big payoff!

  11. I really believe that when a referee sends off the wrong man, it’s an honest mistake….or at best, incompetence.
    Conversely, when referees like Riley deliberately fail to punish sustained fouling of players,
    I see that as sheer corruption.
    Trust is not a word that will ever be associated with Riley and his ilk.

  12. There was an article in the Sunday Mirror this week. The journalist criticized refereeing decisions. The most notable thing was that three or four times he emphasized that the referees were honest and just making mistakes. If this is true (that the referees are honest) why keep saying it?

    Why keep such a small pool of referees? Why no referees from London and why so many from the north of England? Why the pay off on retirement as long as they keep silent? Why the lack of transparency on so many aspects of how the PGMOL operates?

    These questions, raised on this website again and again, are still unanswered.

  13. Think refs have been deliberately selected by those knowing the “honest” mistakes some will make in favour of, or against certain clubs. And the guy who selects refs has just been suddenly replaced by …erm….Howard Webb.
    But agree Nicky on your opinion of refs who send the wrong players off

  14. Riley sees which way people are moving and is trying to get in front of the parade. Unfortunately for him we can see that this parade Marshall has no clothes.

  15. Mandy – Yes, Halsey is locked in a legal dispute with PGMO – but, more importantly, also Scudamore. There is no love lost there.

  16. Mandy,
    We have been warned about him behind the scenes. He seems to be the “missing link” some say…

  17. Walter

    My friend Lorraine says Keown is the “missing link”, and she knows about these things.

  18. This is why I say the Media runs Referees.

    As nicky says:

    “I really believe that when a referee sends off the wrong man, it’s an honest mistake….or at best, incompetence.”

    Exactly. But isn’t it funny how these ‘honest’ mistakes invoke media hysteria and condemnation, which in turn induces Riley to comment on how Referees would benefit from technology.

    But again as nicky says:

    “Conversely, when referees like Riley deliberately fail to punish sustained fouling of players, I see that as sheer corruption.”

    Exactly again. A Referee can miss 5 penalty appeals in one game. Fail to deal adequately with potential leg breakers. Book a player for his first transgression one minute but then tolerate rotational fouling the next. The thing is, we get no media out cry when this goes on. Rather we get the complete opposite. So in turn, what do we get from Riley?

    Exactly…. Nothing.

    My point is if the media made a big fuss about the five penalties being missed. The rotational fouling being missed Riley WOULD act.

    Riley is merely a puppet who is entirely reactive to whatever he thinks the media want him to react to.

    He doesn’t give a shit whether the Ref is good bad or indifferent as long as they don’t upset the talking heads in the media.

  19. Are referees really corrupt? Do they have alternative agendas other that interpreting the laws of the game fairly?. Conspiracy abounds!!!. The modern game is cynical with players, managers and fans alike basically cheating with pressure coming from so called TV analysts, press and fan blogs alike. Never has the scrutiny on referees been so intense. The job of a modern day referee at the highest level is too big for most of them. On many occasions the most important person making the decision is the last to know. The reluctance to introduce video technology like all other top level sports is unbelievable. Get it all out in the open for the long term health of the game.

  20. andy bishop.

    “The reluctance to introduce video technology like all other top level sports is unbelievable.”

    Not really if you give any credence to the explanations above:

    arthur @ 2:41pm

    myself @ 3:44pm and 9:34pm

    Okay you may not subscribe to either, but it rather dismisses the notion that there reluctance is ‘unbelievable’

    Given the vested interests of the parties mentioned it is entirely ‘believable’.

  21. How on earth did one of the worst and incompetent referees ever, become in charge of all the referees? Sheer madness, and now , we are seeing the fruits of his leadership.

  22. Jambug

    If the media controls the referees, then who controls the media? I see that the betting companies advertise heavily around the football games shown, so could they be influencing the media? Their advertising contracts must be huge.

  23. Jambug

    You may remember the recent scandal at the Daily Telegraph and HSBC. The Telegraph would follow what HSBC wanted shown in their paper just to keep the advertising revenue coming in from HSBC. Could something like that be happening with the TV companies and the betting companies?

  24. Why no referees from London and why so many from the north of England?
    Maybe because they would have to pay the ones from London more money?

  25. “He surely has earned the right to be mistrusted for ever after that day.”
    This, if I may translate into real-speak means: “He surely earned the right to become head of the PiGMOb forever after that day.”

    Imo, what’s at work is enough of a shift among the powers-that-be because they’ve invested such vast TV money in the BPL product that Mikey R’s signature (game-50) mode of operation risks tarnishing the credibility of their pricey brand. By keeping Mikey R. there to transition to video technology, it all becomes good: Mikey R. goes out a heroic reformer (erasing his own malfeasance) and the game has modernized to its greater glory forever, amen.

    If Mikey R. is at the helm for the modernization – the bridge to the (near) future, then no questions or comparisons of the old and the new will occur, no recriminations will ensue. And lo, it’s all been one, gradual, careful, responsible, seamless evolution toward the light (of the TV $creen).

    (Indeed, why wouldn’t Mikey R. sign up for this exit routine, if/when it happens? Mike R., from the malodorous crook of Game 50 to the responsible forward looking steward of video technology. Do you think this wouldn’t happen in the English Media as we know it?)

  26. The big TV money (5 Billion) comes from 2 stakeholders. Who has put up that money? Well, it’s in the news: follow the contract. Who are the stakeholders in those 2 institutions? Well that’s public too. Who, in turn, do they bring into the mix? Well, there’s the rub.

  27. Coaching

    David Ospina tweeted about KeepersWorld today. Any of you ever visited that?

    Well, If you look through the Arsenal staff, you will find a Tony Roberts who is a goalkeeping coach, and Tony Roberts is also the person behind KeepersWorld. Supposed to be of use to coaches and athletes. Has the appearance of a brand new website.

  28. Dear Bob, there is no doubt the PR experts are working hard upon the PGMOB’s etc. behalf.

    But nevertheless I can’t ignore my enjoyment at the spectacle of a bunch of charlatans moving from “99% accuracy” to “needing video replay” within a matter of months! It’s too funny for school.

    If these bunglers believe that they can get away with a bungled and biased performance such as that from Probert in an FA cup final broadcast around the world then I’m sure that they believe they are untouchable. Nothing new there.
    Nevertheless such transparency such as that exhibited in the simply hilarious shift from “99% accuracy” to ” we need to act like a twentieth century sport (never mind the twenty first century!)” is remarkable, and I intend to remark upon it! The hack dwarves may be too scared to comment but I don’t think any of us aredisappointed in hacks wdid not have the spine required to write about the demise of the club once known as Glasgow Rangers (third odd biggest club in the UK?) or the continuing problems up there: indeed we all heard the bbc supporting the dodgy geezers up there there last summer with their appeals to get people to buy season tickets, the money for which had already been spent…it is what it is!

    Up the Arsenal

  29. Arthur

    Who knows.

    All I know is what I see. And what I see is the Referees applying the laws of the game in a way that follows broad agendas laid down by the Media as an entity.

    Of course not everybody tows the line to the same degree but by and large very very few have the balls to swim against the tide.

    The agenda must be driven by the Editorial offices.

    Editors are guided by there owners.

    Who controls the owners is THE question.

  30. “I speak to Rosicky a lot, he is a legend….”
    Akpom knows.

    Learning off some fancy dan outside of the boot long haired Jonny Foreigner. Greg Dyke wants his UKIP back boo hoo, just don’t mention the coaching for the kids *coughs*. AFC are blessed to have had Rosicky. One more season at least please Tomas!

    When you think about it, Rosicky has already done more for English football then Greg Dyke ever will. Perhaps that’s why they keep on letting the cloggers hack away at apprentice Wilshere? England’s No.10 bar none. Must be a reason…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *