What’s going on with English Refereeing? Here’s an answer

By Walter Broeckx

I must say that I read the article by Tim published earlier with great interest.

I admit that he touched on some very interesting points. And I find it welcome that someone who has a different view on our referee work has the chance to give his thoughts on this subject.

When I arrived at the Untold scene some… my God is it already 6 years ago… I was the one that have started first writing articles about refereeing in general. Writing about a specific incident in a match and then explained the correct decision. People asked for more and more and more. I obliged because refereeing is my thing and I like doing it. First and all because I know I can use the examples and incidents for my own benefit on the field. But one of my ideas was to educate the readers of Untold about the laws of the game.

I must say that I sometimes fall of my chair when I hear pundits “explain the laws”. They mostly show that they have hardly any real idea about the laws and the interpretation of those laws. So I thought that the least I could do was to educate the Untold readers. And when I look at the reactions I seem to have done more for educating Untold readers than the PGMO has done for the rest of England.  And that is one of their jobs!

Now I know that people can be sceptical about our referee reviews. In fact I have always asked people to be sceptical and critical. Right from the start. When the referee work grew and grew I got the help of a few other people. Some more referees. Arsenal supporting referees. So again we were in danger for being pro-Arsenal biased. I can assure you (but of course is just our word of honour) that the 3 of us did all we could to not be biased. We even at times consulted each other and made decisions that were against the common perception on this website.  Our numbers then showed a rather big bias against Arsenal. As nothing in this world is perfect we were said to be too biased again.

So the only thing we could do was to go further. You can still find the results of us going further on the website refereedecisions. In that season we attracted referees from all over the world, with all different favourite teams. The Arsenal supporting referees were in the big minority during that season. We managed to do a lot of matches. An enormous amount of matches. Not all…alas. Because reviewing matches is time consuming.

But the result was that after having all the matches reviewed by all kinds of referees who supported all kinds of teams was that we found that the bias against Arsenal had even grown in that season.

I do admit that this outcome was even for me a big surprise. Well not really to be honest as I was seeing what was happening on the field and thought to myself that this was pretty bad stuff going against Arsenal. But I never expected that the bias score would be bigger when non-Arsenal supporting referees did the reviews compared to when Arsenal supporting referees did the reviews.

After that season we had a sabbatical year and last season we started again with just me doing the reviews. Because of personal circumstances I had to stop doing them for a while, just in the time when the bias seemed to drop a bit. I still wonder if this wasn’t just down to the fact that for a while we seemed the only team that could make the PL a bit exciting when it came to the title race and so the big bias dropped to a more normal level.

The fact that most readers on Untold had that feeling also showed that they rather had a good eye for how the referees were doing.

I also want to point out that our reviews are done in the silence of our living room. We know the outcome of the match. No nerves just looking at the decisions of the ref. So our reviews are not influenced by the home or away bias. In fact I review matches with the sound off. So for the reviews home or away bias is irrelevant.

The Arsenal-bias is something different. We openly let the world know we love Arsenal. I do try to be professional when reviewing matches. But even in the case if we were biased the great thing about our reviewing is that each decision can be disputed by everyone. We give our view in the open and then count the numbers and add them up and reach our conclusion.

Of course we do get people writing in saying that we are wrong with the reviews. But unlike Tim they don’t give us anything else but words in the style of : “you are rubbish mate” [or occasionally considerably more abusive, but still without any justification.  I remove these and they are not published – as per our guidelines – Tony].

Indeed, we might be rubbish,  but just saying that without saying where we are rubbish doesn’t bring anything to the debate and doesn’t allow us to even try to learn from our own mistakes. If they happened.

The fact is that I know referees in my own country from the lowest to the highest level. I have done matches with FIFA referees, done matches with top division referees. Have talked with them, have had some drinks with them, trained with them. I have some of their personal numbers. And the fact is that most of them are indeed biased. They do have a team they supported as a kid. And believe me (I have written about it) doing matches of your own favourite team is difficult. But I know who some refs support and then you really wonder if they really can put their bias aside when doing their matches or doing matches of rival teams.

And why would it be different in England? We know that there is a ref who supporters Newcastle. So he cannot do matches involving them. But as a real Newcastle supporter he will probably dislike Sunderland a lot. So how can he be unbiased when he has to do matches involving Sunderland or matches that can influence the league table of Sunderland or… Newcastle?

Tim has every right to believe that most mistakes are down to honest human error. I would love to agree with him. But if that really was the case then I think our numbers would have shown that it evens out in the end. But alas in no season have we found that it evens out in the end for a team. And certainly not for Arsenal. It never did.

If only I had some more times on my hand but I have to pack my bags and go on a holiday to the south of France for some 10 days so I have to stop it here. If the subject is still ‘hot’ when I come back I will try to give my thoughts on this after my holidays. But then again the debate about the referees is always a hot topic in the world of football.


The anniversaries – two signings on this day

  • 4 September 1986: Perry Groves signed from Colchester whom he had joined in 1981.  He played 142 league games for them and scored 26 goals before moving for  £50,000: the first Arsenal signing of George Graham.
  • 4 September 2000: Igors Stepanovs signed from Skonto Riga for £1.35m as cover for the injured Tony Adams.  He had played 129 times for the Latvian team.  He retired in 2011 having played 100 times for Latvia and became manager of the national under 17 squad.

The Untold Books


23 Replies to “What’s going on with English Refereeing? Here’s an answer”

  1. Walter, I feel like you feel you have to repeatedly explain yourself to those who choose to blandly dispute the ref bias findings without ever resorting to an evidence based argument. Perhaps for the benefit of that particular cohort you should carry a permanent paragraph highlighted before each article that refers to referee bias just explaining that this conclusion was reached by qualified, non-Arsenal supporting referees. I doubt regular readers will tire of reading this since it might save us from having to read some of bullshit comments that do get through Tony’s rigorous criteria for inclusion 🙂

  2. i think this bias would stop if a team (not manager or players) sued the referee for incompetence if he had a horror of a game a few good results for the teams would soon have the referees association bringing in replays and maybe 3 appeals per half which like cricket if you win the appeal you don’t lose the appeal this would sort it all out the referees association are the only professional body i know of who refuse to use the latest technology

  3. Roy,
    Good point about technology. We have cricket and tennis and even rugby where tech has been brought in which quickly and unequivocally resolves issues. We have timing capability in athletics which goes to hundredths of a second and F1 which goes to thousandths. But football cannot use or adapt any of it? Truly scandalous.

    It is sad that you have to keep writing these rebuttal pieces for those too lazy to do their own research on your excellent work or those with darker motives. Please keep up the excellent work. And enjoy your well earned break in the South of France.

  4. I hope you enjoy your holiday. When people say ‘You are rubbish’ in the modern idiom it means you are the woofs testimonials. 😉

    We love what you do anyway.

  5. Walter,
    Like the idea of your holiday in the sun. Does it mean that Madame’s health is improving? I hope so.

  6. Enjoy your holiday Walter.

    And if you ever have a moment of radical doubt (sign of a healthy mind, in my opinion), just watch highlights of game 50.

    Works any time for me, and makes me think I’ve been under- instead of over-doing it. Either a crook or an improbably attrocious referee.

    If it was the latter, his organisation would respond appropriately- apologies etc. Instead, they made him the boss…

  7. Good article Walter. I’m glad to see that my piece is generating such good quality debate. I don’t mean to denigrate the amount of work that goes into your refereeing pieces, and I hope you don’t think I am. I also accept that your knowledge of the laws is superior to mine. I am interested in trying to get to the bottom of what is going on here. Your analysis is identifying something that is surprising (bias against Arsenal) I am interested in why referees are biased against Arsenal (or why do we perceive that they are)? The Untold ref reviews suggest to us that something strange is going on. There are two possible reactions to this. Firstly explain the illusion, or secondly find out what is causing the strange phenomenon. Is it something to do with bias perspective? Is it something to do with the North West bias in the English game? Tony’s history tells us that the professional game developed first in the North and North West of England. The over-representation of teams from this region, and the relative underrepresentation of Southern teams suggests that North West teams are still, 100 years later, benefitting from first mover advantage? Does Fergie bear some responsibility for bias? Subsequent to his retirement it has become clear that he had all sorts of inappropriate interactions with referees. I think all of these questions bear further analysis. Why is Arsene Wenger silent on this matter? Does he think there is no bias, or does he not want to debate it in public, as he thinks that will antagonise referees. Fergie seems to have had a lot of success influencing referees behind the scenes. Is Arsene trying to do the same thing? Do all managers do this? Is Wenger having some success (or are recent improvements simply random fluctuations in a trend). Sometimes I try to think what would I do if I was Wenger. Certainly, I would be sending refereeing analyses to PMGO and asking them to explain some things. Have a great holiday

  8. Tim Charlesworth

    “I am interested in trying to get to the bottom of what is going on here.”

    Are you?

    We would all like to know that, but to be honest I don’t believe that’s the main driving force behind your original piece at all.

    To me, the overriding tone of your original post was that of a person wishing to cast doubt over the impartiality and credibility of the Referee reviews, and in turn, the fact that the bias even exists in the first place.

    Despite your tone of benevolence towards Walter and the referee reviews I’m afraid your dismissal of them still comes through:

    a)”I am interested in why referees are biased against Arsenal (or why do we perceive that they are)?”

    So you still think the bias is just Perceived ?

    b)”Firstly explain the illusion,”

    So you still think the bias is just an illusion ?

    c)”Is it something to do with bias perspective?”

    So you still think the bias is just a result of Perspective ?

    You ask some pertinent questions as to where the bias comes from, but then in the next breath reveal your underlying belief that the bias doesn’t really even exists.

    Sorry Tim, nice try, but I think you are being extremely duplicitous.

  9. Hi Jambug. I’m sorry you feel I am being ‘duplicitous’. I suppose you are correct. In order to have an open mind, we need to accept that there is more than one possible explanation for an observed phenomenon (in this sense, a good scientific observer must be duplicitous). You are also correct that I am sceptical about the untold referee reviews, and this is indeed the point of my original piece. It is possible to simultaneously appreciate the work of the referee reviews (hence my wish to show respect for Walter’s work), and be sceptical of the results. I have read the reviews on a number of occasions after watching the same match myself. I have observed more than once that, in particular, they seem to ignore incidents where Arsenal players have borderline fouled opponents and got away with it. There is no shortage of incidents where Arsenal are the victims of rough justice, and the Untold referee reports almost always identify these. The reviews don’t seem to be so good at identifying the injustices which other teams suffer. As I said in my original piece, it is all too easy for a group of people who all see the world from the same point of view, to agree with one another that the rest of the world is biased against them. I have observed this phenomenon in a number of organisations. The one I have seem most closely (I was once a parliamentary candidate) is that every single major political party in Britain genuinely believes that the British media is biased against them and misreports their policies. They believe this honestly, agree amongst themselves, reinforce each other’s opinions, and are able to produce analysis to ‘prove’ it. Clearly they are not all correct. In one respect, I hope that the observed bias is real. If so, then all we have to do is persuade referees to officiate fairly, and hey presto, we will beat all comers. Our failures in the last 10 years can all be easily explained away (nothing to do with the quality of our team) and the world is a happy place. I am a little suspicious of this idea, as you may have gathered. Nonetheless, I also believe that the reviews certainly tell us something, and should not be dismissed out of hand. Most of us have an intuitive feeling that refereeing has been a problem for Arsenal in a way that has not been always true historically. Something has changed. The Untold reviews tell us that there are some problems around the way that our games are refereed, and that our team is, for whatever reason, struggling to adapt to the predominate style of refereeing in England. I am very reluctant to accept the idea that there is a ‘grand conspiracy’ against Arsenal. We should always be suspicious of conspiracy theories in life. I am trying to step back from my own Arsenal bias, and work out what is really going on. I hope that the excellent debate about this subject on Untold will continue, and collectively, I think we might be able to come up with some useful insights.

  10. Tim Charlesworth

    ‘Does Fergie bear some responsibility for bias?’

    I am absolutely convinced this is the case; proving it is another matter and more or less impossible.

    The best I have been able to do is to hunt everywhere for any clues. Mostly in the form of reading football books, as it is long-form writing that small details tend to be found which differ from what you’ll get from the media and also where something like a big picture can emerge.

    The danger, of course, is that I’m on one giant confirmation bias hunt. Can’t really say anything to dispel that possibility other than ‘i don’t think so’. One of the world’s leading experts on cognitive biases makes the point that they cannot be defeated, the best anyone can do, including himself, is be aware that they exist, which, if you’re sound of mind and, I suppose, an honest type, limits the effects of bias.

    Anyway, from all my hunting/reading, no one killer detail emerges. As you’d expect because if it were out there in the public domain somewhere, well, maybe even our media would have to do something.

    What you find instead are hints and possibilities. That and big ole flaws in the system.

    Just take Scudmaore. I read in Simon Jordan’s (ex Palace chairman) book that Scudamore’s bonuses are decided by premier league chairman. At the time in question, the chair of the pay committee was United’s chief executive (Gill, I think). I few days later I noticed- well, I went looking- that Scudamore was a prominent part of pgmol at it’s creation and for years afterwards. A board member or something (annoyingly, I can’t find those details again at the moment).

    All this proves of course is that if any overt foul play was afoot, or even something much subtler- influence among friends, shared interests and affinities- the structure of things could basically have been designed to facilitate it. A very incestuous little world, closed off to outsiders and allowing all kinds of interaction among leading people. Nothing is in place to protect football if there is any dirtiness at the top. That’s one avenue.

    Then there’s all the more basic psychological stuff. Bits here and there where referees admit to finding it tremendously hard at Old Trafford and to a great fear of Ferguson’s wrath. How on earth could it come to that? the moment any of them felt anything of that nature they should, among themselves, have spotted what a ludicrous situation that was, and worked hard to deal with it and get on with doing their job properly. No such thing. Instead it was seen more as a fact of life, something to darkly chuckle over maybe, like Scholes mistimed tackles.

    A final one I’ll go with for today is how far Utd fell after Ferguson’s exit. I watched gleefully as, yep, they weren’t getting what they were used to, and it was a psychological and practical near catastrophe for them. The players seemed to barely understand it, didn’t know how to respond, and were in real trouble because of it.

    In history, of course, it will go down as a slight black mark against ferguson, who, by the story, didn’t provide well for his successors, but also as incredible testament to his ability as a manager : look how much he got out of those players.

    I’ll go on believing refereeing was a gigantic part of it. Last week, I watched that Swans Utd second half and was very surprised to see Atkinson perform brilliantly . As Swansea sought to overturn the deficit, they became a bit more combative and stepped up their work, this led to lots of little situations in which a ref could give free kicks. Atkinson’s judgement seemed near perfect in this period.

    They were close to free kicks at times, but in fact they weren’t. It proved the critical stage of the game and Swansea were basically allowed to fairly battle their way back into it. . Refs can very easily limit a side’s ability to gain any momentum in that position. In the old days i believe this routinely happened with Utd. I believe it happens very regularly with us, especially when Atksinon is involved. He manages games away from us, when losing, in a way that makes momentum near impossible.

    The latest little piece of interest I found is in the book I’m currently reading- Life on the volcano. It profiles various managers and one of them ,Alan Irvine, who worked for years with Moyes, talks about the extremely difficult job Moyes had on his hands taking over.

    To illustrate this, Irvine mentions part of his own buildup to a match was comparing Everton’s team with the opposition and deciding which of those opposition players would get in the Everton team, i.e. are better than them. He says that in the final Everton Utd match in Ferguson’s last year he would only have had two of their players- Rooney and RVP.

    That team won the league a few weeks early, and collapsed the next year without Ferguson. The story is that the former is about Fergie’s genius the latter about a bit of inconsideration from him (and maybe more genius of knowing when to go). I say, can anyone be that good? Maybe. but it certainly fits well with my belief Fergie’s influence on referees became astounding, vital and ridiculous long before the end.

    Mind you, there probably wasn’t much point in typing any of this. It has to be one of those things that, if you’re pretty sure there’s been nothing wrong with referees here in the last decade, there’s nothing someone can say to persuade you otherwise; and vice versa.

  11. Rich

    “As Swansea sought to overturn the deficit, they became a bit more combative and stepped up their work, this led to lots of little situations in which a ref could give free kicks. Atkinson’s judgement seemed near perfect”

    I have said many times, that without an agenda to follow, an agenda set, by-and-large, by the Media, most of our Referees are competent at there jobs.

    Sadly most of them choose, most of the time, to follow the set agenda.

    Why you may ask?

    Simple. Self preservation.

    In Fergies day we all know what happened to them should they fail to do the necessary for United.

    Similarly we all know the praise they get whenever they screw Arsenal, and the criticism they get when they do us anything resembling a favour.

  12. Hi Rich. I think your analysis about Fergie is spot on. I think the result of the 2012/13 premiership is very suspicious (and this is the season about which Walter is most critical). Man U’s team looked weak at the start of the season, still looked weak at the end, won the league easily, was unable to sustain its performance the following season, and did badly in Europe. All this suggests they had a helping hand in the premiership. Something changed the following season, and the obvious change was the removal of Fergie. It seems to me that, as you say, there are subtle ways of influencing the way matches are refereed and Ferguson was good at this. Wenger (much as I love him) appears not to be good at this. I think David Dean was also good at this (albeit more subtle), and we seem to have suffered from referees since he left the scene (coincidence?)

  13. Tim

    “In order to have an open mind, we need to accept that there is more than one possible explanation for an observed phenomenon”

    Exactly. Which is why Walter and co decided to see what was behind the ‘observed phenomenon’ of what WAS a ‘perceived’ bias against Arsenal.

    After dozens of reviews carried out over years, by both Arsenal supporting and otherwise, professional and amateur referees, the perception of an anti Arsenal bias was, as scientifically as is possible, proved to be not just a perception, but an actuality.

    Are you a Referee, ex or current?

    All I know is, Walter is. As are all the others that have done the reviews. So I’d take there judgements over yours every day of the week, and they ALL came to the same conclusion.

    Arsenal are screwed by Referees.

    I’m sorry if you don’t like the Duplicitous label, but the reason I used it is because I feel you are inferring one aim, getting to the bottom of the bias, whilst having another, proving the Referee reviews to be flawed, or worse, biased themselves.

    Duplicitous is what I said, and that is what I believe.

  14. Jambug.

    Yep. On related note, I didn’t read all of Tim’s original piece. I probably will at some point in next few days but my first attempt ended quickly when I got the impression it chimed with the view that ,somehow, a little extra kicking of Arsenal is only to be expected.

    I couldn’t hack that. I can’t understand how an Arsenal fan can tolerate that idea.

    But I know where it comes from. The media. It is pushed incessantly and i find it extraordinarily weird. Yes, you can say that teams can be expected to use those tactics against us; yes, you can say refs should deal with it but don’t; but to say it happens and it’s ok and just something we have to deal with, i.e that it’s somehow RIGHT that refs don’t deal with it, is berserk to me.

    It’s why I was enraged to see Neville’s pieces from before the season began. Lo, it has gone how I would have predicted, only even more so. Soon after Neville’s piece, Oliver Holt wrote a similar one with similar conclusions, he used Neville as his authority, and described us as being ‘physically squeamish’ (repulsive in my view, as it ignores the fact we suffered things in the period covered which would turn the strongest stomach. I’d use that term if i was not only a lying arsehole but one who sought to rub in that I knew the real score)

    That was the beginning. Things stepped up from there, with further Neville contributions, with Keown talking last weekend as if, unfortunately, he had read and re-read Neville’s piece twenty times that week and concurred with it, and with Mclaren acting as if he was genuinely amazed his team were not allowed to gain a massive advantage by stopping us through early dangerous fouls.

    That was the real key one- there’s a distinct possibility Mclaren believed it. That it has gone that far and people have absorbed into their world view that there are different parameters when playing us, that what is a brilliant tactic if referees fail is actually fair and something referees are wrong to stop. Nuts.

  15. Tim

    “It seems to me that, as you say, there are subtle ways of influencing the way matches are refereed and Ferguson was good at this. I think David Dean was also good at this (albeit more subtle), and we seem to have suffered from referees since he left the scene (coincidence?)”

    As much as I agree there are ‘subtle’ ways of influencing referees, I don’t believe subtlety had much to do with it.

    I mean, ringing them up or having them banned from refereeing your team is hardly subtle is it?

    Are you suggesting this is what Wenger should be doing?

    As for the departure of Dean, it has been shown on here many times that our downturn in refereeing fortunes was directly linked to the arrival of a certain Mr Riley at the helm of the PGMOL

  16. @Tim Charlesworth

    ‘I am trying to step back from my own Arsenal bias, and work out what is really going on.’

    Judging from your article I get the impression you think you have succeeded in this aim.
    Whereas you question Walter’s and all the other review refs involved the ability to do the same.
    A little arrogant don’t you think.

  17. Dear Walter and all who have contributed to the referee reviews over the years.

    Thank you.
    All football fans, all people who love Arsenal Football Club, they are in your debt. Fortunately not the kind of debt promoted so aggresively by the likes of Scudamore. Boom Boom!

    Whether all football fans can muster up the footballs required in order to admit that is another matter 🙂

    Which is why you have the unfortunate spectacle of people chasing their own tails, attempting and failing to refute the numbers that have been compiled without making any references to any numbers themselves. Bit of a giveway that. Becasue as all can see and as most understand, numbers are quite important in football: goals, points, goal difference etc.

    It’s a funny old game.

  18. Dein’s an interesting one. At the least he may have had a roguish streak to him.

    One anecdote from Jordan’s book certainly points to that- story goes that when Dein was loaning a couple of Arsenal youngsters to Palace he got, as well as a good loan fee, an assurance from Jordan to match the players wages, 10 grand per week. So Jordan does that only to find they were on 5 grand per week at Arsenal. Still, if true, that’s neither here nor there in terms of influencing anyone. Could, if true, just mean he’s a funny guy and thought Jordan was a bit full of himself.

    More revealing was a little titbit turned up not long ago. An old article I read from the time Dein had power in the football association. It was at a time when some managers- Mourinho and Allardyce were two- were complaining it wasn’t right for a figure like Dein to hold a top post in the FA. How can he not be biased, look at the friendly fixture list, etc.

    This particular article featured a claim, from Allardyce, that Dein had unfairly pulled strings behind the scenes to keep Wenger away from the selection process for the vacant England managers post. So no doubt the papers would have ran with that accusation at the time. Later it emerged it was nonsense. The FA confirmed it was as Arsenal had said at the time : Wenger was on the longest and told them immediately he wasn’t interested.

    That’s just a little example of the way things go: prominence to claims, from usual suspects- usually Ferguson or one of his courtiers, or the man who modelled himself on hi- which turn out to be nonsense, and are barely acknowledged at that point.

    If it wasn’t right for Dein to have that power at the FA, shouldn’t that mean no chairman or chief executive should hold a top post there? Pretty sure Utd’s man was in the job soon after and that Allardyce and co said not a word about it.

    I think Ferguson was an incredibly ruthless man, who would do almost anything to gain an advantage. He gained unprecedented power and prestige, and used it to the maximum. How that worked in reality, I’ve no idea.

    It would have needed the media to be a certain way, referees to be a certain way, even fellow managers to be a certain way. That of course can make it plainly sound far-fetched.

    However, there are countless people, including the principals, who, just before all the phone-hacking malarkey, would have called me a crank for my views on how dirty Murdoch and his people are.

    Ole whatsherface went so far as to use a front page of her newspaper to decry those claims and make the accuser’s out to be cranks, who should be sued etc. She was, of course, lying.

    Same thing would have happened to someone insisting the financial system was a basket case just before the crash of 2008. Big figures in the financial world would dismiss it as pure nonsense. It wasn’t.

    If the most powerful corporation in our country can be proven astonishingly dirty, and if the world’s financial systems can be riddled with corruption and insanity, aye, I don’t think you can rule out similar things, perhaps in a much less organised and systematic way, within football.

  19. We used to call it the M 62 mafia. Fergus on led it.Allardyce ,Moyes , Peter Reid, Bruce ,Pulis , all played Golf with him.We were certain that results were sorted long before the teams met. VAN Nistelroy took his spot kicks and Beckham took his free kicks whilst players dropped like stones and later Ronaldo took up the mantle. When history reflects on his reign he will either continue to be treated like deity or perhaps the truth will begin to surface. I hope I’m around to see it emerge.

  20. porter

    The trouble is he still seems un touchable.

    Despite what has already come out regarding his list of phone numbers he’s remained untainted. Stuff that you and I know would of signalled then end of Wenger had it been him phoning referees.

    Today in the Mail on Sunday Oliver Holt is bemoaning the trashing of Fergusons legacy by Moyes, RVG, and the rest, without a mention of the fact it was Ferguson himself that left the Club in the shit in the first place by not addressing any of the issues in the squad.

    At the moment Fergie is untouchable and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  21. As posted elsewhere, I think Tim needs to provide means of estimating these other forms of answers to the bias question.

    I suspect most of you will agree I am a strange bird, but I have officiated games with my club team and not had a problem being completely professional. For a while in Alberta, Canada, the highest level of football was amateur, and a semi-amateur league came about the next season which had teams travelling across distances which dwarf England (England fits in Alberta 7 times). I showed up at one of these games to watch, and the referee recognized me and asked me to be an assistant referee (linesman) for the game. The person assigned had not shown up, and the referee knew I would be completely professional. And I told him I would not cash the cheque for paying me to do the game, and I never did.

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