Should Untold start charging the Telegraph for its articles?

What we can say is that at least the time it takes for our ideas to enter the mainstream is getting shorter.

Of course Mr Hayward does not copy me directly but does manage to pick up the theme of the article by saying, “The idea that every Premier League club has a pen containing a shackled Harry Kane is not credible. But we do know that historically the FA lags far behind the federations of Germany and Spain in player coaching.”

 However he does lose it a bit as time goes on, especially when he slips back into journo-generalisations with, “And you fans, with your own divided loyalties between club and country…”

Divided loyalty, ah this is the bit where he knows he has to hand in a 1200 word piece and is running a bit short.  If only he had kept reading Untold he would know there are no divided loyalties.  I don’t think anyone has ever been on Untold saying that the international breaks are a good thing or that they support England or any other country like they support Arsenal.   It’s an old myth.

But the info the Telegraph got from our article on the link between coaching and success at international level is still there for this article again speaks of  “a lack of quality coaching.”

(Mind you they all lose it a bit sometimes as when Paul Hayward, the Chief Sports Writer for the right-wing paper recently accused football supporters of silly long-termism with the jibe that “Michael Oliver … cannot be praised for a brilliant performance with cards and whistle if he has made so much as a single error in the past.”  If ever there is a fine example of short-termism it is in the football reporting of our national press who invariably take the last game as a signifier of how a club is doing.)

But things do change.  Here’s a statement from further into the same article that you would not have seen two years ago in the Telegraph (because they didn’t believe refs were an issue then) nor one year ago (when the PGMO were busy supplying them with press releases about video refs and silly statistics).

“There has been no choice in a season of sliding standards but to bash match officials for confusion and vacillation over dangerous tackling, diving and the daily Punch and Judy of the coaching zone, in which fourth officials are too busy listening to managerial monologues to notice significant incidents.”

Goodness me.  Is this another case of Untold making an impact?

“Players, managers, fans and, yes, media types, are dodging their own responsibility to judge decisions fairly and not through the prism of tribal interest or commercial noisemaking opportunities,” he continues.
Well, take a look at Untold.  There’s a whole format that Walter and co have evolved over the past seasons, with the notion of referees of all persuasions reviewing games, a preview of the ref analysing his past decisions, and an incident by incident post match review so that we can compare our accuracy findings with the figure given out by PGMO.

And this is where Man U find that their fall from grace is complete (at least until Man U win a game 2-0 and suddenly the whole process is reversed).  “Wayne Rooney’s constant badgering of Oliver over the night’s two biggest disciplinary issues was redolent of John Terry in his most, shall we say, interventionist phase. Rooney is renowned for his willingness to play in every position on the training ground, and he plainly also fancies himself as a ref, because each time Oliver tried to gather his thoughts the England captain was in his personal space, urging, chuntering, trying to influence.”

For the record, the press supported the ref in the Man U v Arsenal Cup game.  One phrase I rather liked was, “Adnan Januzaj’s dive in the Arsenal penalty area was so late it almost belonged in the next fixture between these two sides. A faint touch of the hand from Nacho Monreal made painfully slow progress from the nerves in Januzaj’s arm to his brain, and down he went, with his assailant already comfortably beaten. Oliver showed him a yellow card for simulation but Rooney considered this clear-cut case worthy of a Socratic debate.”

Ah, proper journalism.  Bit of wit, bit of banter, nice classical allusion, and a good point.  And not just because I agree (although that always makes things easier) but because it is funny, well written, and pursues a point of view with clarity and style.

But then, even the finest of pieces of writing (well, by journalism standards – we’re not talking Cicero here), can slip. – as it does with what players think of refs.

The piece goes on for a while until suddenly it is interrupted by

Did you know Telegraph Sport has a Manchester United Facebook page?

Well, yes, I knew, but I don’t think I would want to read it.  And indeed nor would any Man U fan after an article telling them that their hero and god is lacking in basic moral fibre.  And besides, everyone who works in advertising knows that one of the worst ways to advertise is with the closed question (ie the one that can be answered yes or no).   What they should have written is “What is the most effective way of keeping in touch with the latest Man U news?”  But don’t tell them.  My agency charges for information like that.

Meanwhile the Guardian, has set up “Don’t talk about the ref club” on the grounds that talks about refs deflects attention from more interesting matters.  So not everyone is following our lead.

But still, I rather like this, not because I agree (of course I don’t) but because I think that again such a statement from a journalist would not have been made two years ago.  Now we are all debating refs every day – which is a huge, massive, major step forwards.  The worst time was when only ourselves and about three other web sites were charting referee bias and the papers would not even consider the subject.

Untold having an impact?  Well only up to a point, for the notion that most refs get it all right most of the time and there is nothing to worry about is still out there, for the Guardian wrote on 10 March…

“Michael Oliver, …had the kind of routinely excellent night at Old Trafford most referees deliver most of the time in between the headline mistake-frenzies and the parallax errors of the tribally deluded.”

And then went totally off the rails with

“Good refereeing decisions, like bad ones, are only ever a side issue.”

Shall I do that one again

“Good refereeing decisions, like bad ones, are only ever a side issue.”

No, not if they are caused by nefarious outside influence.  We can’t prove that happens but there are good reasons to believe they are outside influences given the fact that the analyses provided by PGMO are so paper thin, and so dubious, given that the number of refs is kept so low (which enhances the chance of match fixing), given that we have seen the model of Type III match fixing work for years in Italy, and given that the money in gambling on football is a million times bigger than the salary of a ref.

The reasons to believe that something is fundamentally wrong are far far greater than the reasons to believe that everything is fine and we shouldn’t talk about it.

Yes, Untold is being copied by the press, and we are having a bit of an influence on what topics are debated, but there is still one hell of a long way to go.

Arsenal Anniversaries – early times, sad times, exciting times

28 March 1887: Royal Arsenal ended Season 1 with an away defeat to 2nd Rifle Brigade.  During this short season the club won 7, drew 1 and lost 2.  The club scored 36 and conceded 8.

28 March 1987: Arsenal 0 Everton 1.  This was the sixth (and thankfully last) consecutive league match in which Arsenal failed to score – the longest run in the club’s league history.

28 March 2004: Arsenal 1 Man U 1.  Ferguson announced that he was sure Arsenal would win the league but later added that Arsenal would not do it unbeaten, referring back to his experience at Rangers where the unbeaten side lost the last match of the season.   This was the first draw after nine successive wins in the 30th league game of the unbeaten season

31 Replies to “Should Untold start charging the Telegraph for its articles?”

  1. Yes. Charge them for use of both data & intellectual property rights. These ‘free press’ thieving bar stewards are quick to grab your money so don’t think twice about getting some funds from them. I am sure there are several good football causes that can benefit.

  2. In my learning days during the last century, when all of us in the School First XI copied the hairstyle of Arsenal players. (Centre parting a la Ted Drake, Cliff Bastin and Eddie Hapgood), my Gran (who cleans at the Emirates) remarked “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.
    Today, rather than accept money from one of the poorest and misread of newspapers (except for cricket reporting) Walter should just be allowed to bask in the flattery bestowed.

  3. I would suggest that you prank them with fake stories and facts and figures . When that blows up in their faces , lets see how they try shift the blame !

  4. It is very well deserved that your persistence and hard work is being recognised, and obviously personally rewarding for yourself, if a little frustrating I would guess, to be plagiarised so often. But as you say:

    “Yes, Untold is being copied by the press, and we are having a bit of an influence on what topics are debated, but there is still one hell of a long way to go”.

    In deed there is, because as much as I would like this statement:

    “The worst time was when only ourselves and about three other web sites were charting referee bias and the papers would not even consider the subject”.

    to be true, I fear it is not.

    A conciliatory nod in the direction of referees ineptitude is a long way from the concession that they are ‘Biased’.

    I think the ‘it all evens out’ mantra would still very much hold sway throughout the Media.

    I cant say I’ve seen ONE article, nay comment, that suggests that referees are anything other than ‘fair’. Crap maybe but biased? NEVER.

    Bias is a massive part of what UA has exposed but I’m afraid the media have not picked up on that at all. Sorry.

  5. Tony and Walter

    I suppose there’s nothing wrong with a little self promotion. It seems everyone is guilty of doing it these days, but some of the ideas you guys claim credit for ,have been around for a long time.

    When Leo Beenhakker took over the Polish national team job in 2006, one of the first things he said was how difficult it would be to advance into the European elite ,without rebuilding the sorry state of Polish grassroots football, forming academies, and increasing the number of youth coaches.

    In fact , such was the poor state of footballing infrastructure in Poland according to Beenhakker, that he was quoted saying ” some of the pitches Polish proffesional footballers train on are unsuitable for dog walking, for the fear of dog’s dislocating his ankles”

    This , by the way, is something the Dutch have been basing their Europe’s leading youth footballing programs for decades.

    The idea of cautioning the captain for team’s infractions isn’t new either.
    It’s been talked about since at least the 1982 World Cup in Spain, when Zbigniew Boniek, Poland’s best player missed the semifinal game against Italy because of two yellow cards, one of which was issued to him for the wall not moving back the right distance at the free kick.

    Walter should probably remember that one. Boniek scored three goals against his Belgium in the tournament.

    His omission in the game against Italy cost Poland the chance to make it into the final.

    The fact is , most of ideas how to improve football , have been tossed around for a while and claiming ownership or some sort of copy rights violations, is just plain silly.

  6. The disingenious bungling troll is attempting to insinuate that The research by Untold didnt consider that Coaches around the world haven’t thought about coaching kids. Even bough the original article in question on coaching in the UK, as the troll is fully aware, was based upon the per/capita ratio of footballers to coaches being produced in the lowlands. As all are aware the Spanish and German FA’s simply used their football brains to look at the stats.

    The very same type of statistical analysis the troll attempts to ignore in it’s failed efforts to defend the honour and integrity of the PGMO, and we can conclude what a wise “act” that was in light of Riley’s recent comments.

    Blimey. 😉

  7. Finsbury

    Not worth entering into debate with the troll.

    He’s a confirmed liar who just makes things up when you call him out, and who dismisses everything Untold stands for as the ravings of paranoid fools.

    If your lucky he’ll refuse to talk to you like he has me.

    Wont stop me calling him out for the liar he is though.

  8. A very good article Tony.

    While plagiarism or copying of UA by the press is annoying, we must understand that that is the modus operandi of the media in all their activities – from sport to politics, current affairs and oh yes – the news.

    When UA is the source of the information sensible stories and suggestions should end up being viewed by a wider audience – unless the press completely distort the original story.

  9. I think it was Metro, but some medja outlet published an article nominally slagging Szczesny. Something like 78% of Arsenal wants him traded or sold. I didn’t read the article, just the snippet on Google News.

    About the smallest group a person can get 78% from, is 50 (39/50).

    As we are counting, a first guess of Poisson statistics is not out of order. The variance equals the mean, and hence the standard deviation is about 6.2. It is reasonable to find a sample out to about 2 standard deviations, so this sampling could be consistent with population fractions from about 66% to 90%. I don’t know that even 66% of ALL Arsenal supporters want Szczesny to leave.

    It is entirely possible, that the medja person that wrote this, stumbled into a gathering of Le Gnome (or whatever they are called) at a pub. And yes, I can easily see that group as being that heavily against Szczesny, anything to cause Arsenal to fail. But, I wouldn’t describe that sample as being drawn from Arsenal supporters.

  10. Jambug,

    It was genuinely genuinely funny that a self-declared expert on physiotherapy attempted to airbrush an entire sector of that industry out of existance in order to contiunue using Untold Arsenal as a platform to attack the clubs highly praised physios (that’s right, the England physios…not just certified or qualified but employed too 😉 ). Why would an internet troll feel the need to constantly lie in order to try and slur the name of Arsenal Football Club I don;t know, but the lies are at least consistent. And poorly constructed too as seen with the above effort to refer to the Dutch coaching system. Truly weird, considering the original article was based on the irrefutable statistics from Dutch Football that all in football have known about for decades.

    Just another poor desperate interent troll with no credibility.

  11. Youth Players and Development

    I ran across this article, because one of the people mentioned was an Arsenal youth.

    My initial thoughts on this, goes back to a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling (from Winnipeg?) about a parent who leaves a youth at home alone. Apparently now, because of that ruling, no parent in Canada can leave an elementary school (age 12 and under) at home alone. I could see someone easily extending this to a parent sending a similarly aged child to England to learn how to play football on their own.

  12. I haven’t seen anything BJT.

    I just finished looking through the BBC babbling up to 60 minutes or so, and Ramsey seems to be having a good game. And it is surprising that the BBC haven’t bashed Arsenal at all.

  13. Ugggh! From the BBC:

    > 83 Min Israel 0-3 Wales

    > Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey is down now. Concerns for Wales and Arsenal fans – he’s trying to run off what appears to be a groin problem.

  14. Why are there so many groin injuries? I used to see lots of groin injuries in broomball (played on ice). But football fields were all quite hard, and everyone wore multistud shoes instead of 6 stud. Is it because of watering the field before play to make the ground soft?

  15. Hodgson isn’t endearing himself. The national sides take team players, bring them back injured. Well, Hodgson apparently isn’t happy that Wenger is taking his time to get Walcott back into the side. More un-needed pressure.

    Hodgson, break your leg getting off the plane in Italy!

  16. @Gord

    Agreed, the national managers don’t care a toss about the well being of the players – provided they are available for the national teams they are quite happy to send them back injured, knowing that by the time the next set of internationals turn up the players should have recovered.

    Hodgson is not in a good position to make remarks about Walcott, more than once Walcott’s career has been interrupted by injuries sustained playing for England.

  17. Getting back to groin injuries, how many players in warmups can do the splits? Either side to side, or front/back?

    TV never shows warmups.

  18. I grumble about Hogdson doing stupid things with Walcott. And I wish that Hogdson trips on the stairs and breaks his leg.

    In Italy, a player injures his knee in training, and the manager gets death threats.

    But in a sense, the same thing happens with Arsenal. Some player gets hurt in a game (or practice), and the neanderthals come out and say that the injury was Wenger’s fault. Yep, I seen it. The player was running past the Arsenal bench, and Wenger ran to the edge of the field with a field hockey stick and broke the leg of one of his own players. Dumb.

  19. Odd, no message about moderation. Oh well, note was about Zak Ansah in his loan at Plymouth.

  20. Truly lost somewhere in the translation –

    After all the e-mails and penis lengthening exercises, I think the wife is finally beginning to notice, because I overheard her telling our next door neighbor that I had became an even bigger dick than I ever was. I even recorded it to show guys at the Pub.

  21. And again…

    This teacher wanted to try something different in the classroom. So she thought she would ask a question to start with that everyone would answer in the same way.
    ‘Who in this class’ she asked ‘thinks they are stupid?’
    One boy at the back of the class stood up.
    The surprised teacher asked the boy why he felt he needed to stand up.
    ‘I didn’t want to leave you standing up all by yourself’ he replied.

  22. Hard to fool the experts –

    An old farmer got pulled over by a young state trooper for speeding. The trooper, fresh on the job, decided to throw his weight around and started lecturing the farmer about his speed. He did his best to make the farmer feel uncomfortable but eventually got around to writing the ticket. As he wrote, he had to swat at several flies that were buzzing around his head.

    “Having some problems with circle flies there, are ya?” asked the farmer.

    The trooper stopped writing the ticket and looked up. “Well yeah, if that’s what they are,” he said. “I never heard of circle flies, though.”

    “Oh, they’re pretty common on farms,” said the farmer. “We call ’em circle flies because they’re always circling around the back end of a horse.”

    “I see,” said the trooper as he continued writing the ticket. All of a sudden, he stopped and looked up at the farmer. “Hey…wait a minute, are you trying to call me a horse’s ass?”

    “Oh no, officer,” replied the farmer. “I have far too much respect for law enforcement and police officers to even think about calling you a horse’s ass.”

    “Well, that’s a good thing,” said the trooper as he resumed writing the ticket.

    After a long pause, the farmer continued. “Hard to fool them flies, though.”

  23. Viva la ….

    A Latin American tour guide was addressing a small group of senior citizens and telling them about the country they were visiting. When he asked if they had any questions, one person inquired, “What is the number one sport in this country?”

    “Bullfighting,” the guide replied.

    The same person asked, “Isn’t that revolting?”

    “No,” replied the tour guide. “That’s number two!”

  24. Tony,
    A little far fetched, don’t you think? True, Untold does publish a lot of original research- but to accuse the mainstream media of plagiarism- its ‘softer’ version, of course- is a bit of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. So when the media does not touch a topic of interest, it’s a result of vested interests, anti-Arsenal bias and so on and when they do, they plagiarise. That’s hardly fair.
    Most of the topics you referred to are quite generic in nature and it’s difficult to explicitly point out a link. Particularly, as Tom pointed out, the idea of coaching and grass-root facilities to improve the national game. On the face of it, that hardly looks like a revolutionary idea that can be ‘copyrighted’. It’s definitely an idea that would have been around since the advent of international football.
    Coming to the issue of refereeing decisions, the fact that it has come into the limelight of late has got more to do with the more ‘glaring’ mistakes this season as compared to previous seasons. Most articles follow one of two ways- ‘it all evens out in the end’ and ‘we need to look at the issue seriously’- with a select few doing a delicate balancing act. That Untold’s view matches with some other sports writer’s view is entirely plausible. Added to that, the unique feature of Untold’s articles contain detailed review of decisions in games and that is hardly seen in the mainstream media. So, unless the Telegraph uses stats from Untold’s ref reviews, the issue of copying does not arise.
    The referee harassing issue was covered in detail almost immediately by (almost) everyone. Again, not an issue that can easily be traced to a specific root.

    Your blog is tremendously popular and it is entirely plausible that a few of those writers may have come across your articles- but so are a lot of other blogs which touch upon these issues. So unless you meant this entire article in jest, I will have to disagree.

  25. Alright, first time post on my favorite webblog.

    Now and then I see disingenuous posts like hrishi’s or Tom’s that makes me ask, can this person read, or are they just trying to oppose a position? Where did Tony specifically use the word plagiarism, or copyright. More like the lack of thoroughness, general band-wagonism, is what Tony’s long running press reviews are about. I don’t bother with mainstream sports journalism, as it makes me feel quite foolish after reading or listening to what some sports expert has to say. I am hardly alone in this. The points made and repeated by Tony and Walter being very open source, begs the questions, why do salaried journalists not raise these points and bang the drum until it breaks? Why no detailed research with numbers.

    To Hrishi’s point: ‘That Untold’s view matches with some other sports writer’s view is entirely plausible. Added to that, the unique feature of Untold’s articles contain detailed review of decisions in games and that is hardly seen in the mainstream media. So, unless the Telegraph uses stats from Untold’s ref reviews, the issue of copying does not arise.’ Two things: this is a webblog, and one with an ironic take on issues, and always with a sense of jest. Other thing, are you a sports writer yourself?

  26. @ Cyrano
    I know that Tony did not use the word ‘plagiarism’. That is precisely why I qualified it by adding ‘a softer version’. Just wanted to point out that it is entirely plausible that these issues had a different root. Of course, my entire point was moot IF it was meant in jest- something that I mentioned. If it wasn’t, just take my comment to be an ironic take on the article- nothing disingenuous about it. On the contrary, I have great respect for the work done here- it just doesn’t have to mean I always agree.
    And no, not a sports writer at all!- I apologise if THAT was a rhetorical question!!

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