PGMO admit there is a problem, but they are still hiding the scale of the problem.

By Walter Broeckx

While I was lying around on the beaches of South France Mike Riley took this opportunity to release a few numbers. I must admit I had to wait a while before I could react to them but now being back I found the time to see how the PGMO numbers look compared to the Untold numbers.

First thing is that Mike Riley admitted that the standard of Premier League officiating had declined over the past year. No kidding.

Apparantely the PGMO also does some studies. And so they have now admitted that the incorrect decisions directly impacting top-flight matches have increased. These incidents are characterised as incidents involving goals, penalties and red cards. The important decisions one could say.

According to Mike Riley the referees in the PL made  20 more [major] errors last season than the season before – over the 380 games. In Premier League football, 20 errors has an impact. Even 1 error has an impact if you ask me.

But the first problem is that they speak of 20 more errors compared to last season. But how many that is, is kept a well guarded secret as usual with the PGMO.

But the PGMO comes up with a new percentage. We all remember that the PGMO came up with a 99% correct offside decisions numbers. I don’t have the number about offside available right now but I know we came up with a much lower number.

But now Mike Riley said about the important decisions (goals, penalties and red cards) :‘The accuracy rate last year was 94.2 per cent,’ he added. ‘If you compare that to the season before which was 95.1 per cent, it dropped. It was 94.1 per cent the previous season.’

So the number the PGMO is saying that was correct was somewhere around 94-95%.

In the years we did very complete reviews we found these numbers in percentage terms were:

Goals: 92.15 – 91.75%

Penalties: 56.07% – 62.24%

Red cards: 28.13% – 21.43%

And this is what we found in the seasons we did complete reviews in numbers:

Correct Not correct Total
Goal 555 45 600
Penalty 97 76 173
Red 18 46   64
670 167 837
80.05% 19.95%

So the first thing we notice is that there is a big difference between the numbers from the PGMO who claim to be somewhere around 94-95% all these years and our numbers.

A difference around 14 to 15%.

As the PGMO itself is saying that 20 more wrong decisions is having an impact it is fair to say that in the years we did our reviews there has been not just ‘an impact’ but a major influence of the events and the outcome of the league.  In our reviews we are talking of 167 incorrect decisions just on these 3 important issues.

Now of course one of the big differences between our numbers and those of the PGMO is that they don’t give any detail in relation to their numbers. They just say a number and we have to accept it without any evidence. As for our numbers we have in detail covered all and every of our decisions of a decision being correct or not.  That is something the PGMO clearly doesn’t do. They just throw around a number and that’s it.

With the PGMO now in fact admitting that 20 more decisions is having ‘an impact’ on the league we should ask what they are going to do about it. Not just about the ’20 more’ decisions but also about the other wrong decisions that have happened and that we don’t know how many actually have been found as wrong by the PGMO study.

And how much longer are we going to accept that the PGMO is going to have ‘an impact’ (I call it a major influence) on the outcome of the league? Riley uses some sweet talking about sitting together and regrouping, whatever that might be.

I think it is about time that we stopped using sweet talking but instead looked at action being taken to stop the impact that the wrong decisions have on the outcome of the PL.

Where is the demand from the PGMO to assist the referees in order to reduce the ‘impact’ their wrong decisions have?  I can’t find it as it probably isn’t there at all. And if it is there it is well hidden like most things of the PGMO.

Riley admitting the ‘impact’ of these 20 plus wrong decisions should have been the start of an outrage of the media and the start of a campaign to do something about it.

But hey ho, let us just focus on the transfer windows and the failings of certain clubs – that is the word in the (Fleet) Street.  Surely the transfer windows might have an impact on the outcome of the PL but there is no real evidence for this. Just newspapers talk. But the PGMO now for the first time that I know is admitting that there might be a slight, little, tiny problem with some of the referee decisions.  Problems should have been an eye opener.

I might have missed it but I haven’t heard much of an outrage from the newspapers or TV stations about these PGMO referee numbers.

Untold will be banging on about this travesty for as long as Tony allows me to bang on it. I will be asking for refs to be assisted by video refs as the study in Holland has shown that it might work and be helpful to give the refs a big helping hand.

But the rest of the so called serious media just accepts the numbers and the facts and now even the pleading guilty from the PGMO that their referee decisions impact the league doesn’t lead to any outbreak of asking the questions Untold has been asking all these years.

“Let us all keep the status quo” seems to be the directive both in the media and in the PGMO. Admit that there might be something wrong but just stay low profile and brush it under the carpet for as long as possible. But brushing things under the carpet does lead to a big pile of dirt in the end. Time to see what is hidden under that carpet.



  • 17 September 1966: Colin Addison makes Arsenal debut in Arsenal 1 Blackpool 1.  It was Bertie Mee’s first season and was Arsenal’s third consecutive 1-1 draw and the fifth game without a win after winning the first three of the season.
  • 17 September 1988.  Arsenal 2 Southampton 2.  Paul Davis suffers trial by TV and is banned for nine matches for hitting Cockerill of Southampton following abuse being hurled.  The event continued from the 9 April game between the sides.

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37 Replies to “PGMO admit there is a problem, but they are still hiding the scale of the problem.”

  1. Walter.

    Any of us that had the misfortune to watch repeats of the 50th game for the Invincibles, will never be able to take Riley seriously.

    That game either suggests that he does not know the rules of the game or he was deliberately making bad decisons. How that man can actually have been promoted and be repsonsible for heading up our referees is a sick joke.

    I have not seen any review of that game but I have never so many tackles where the target was the player and not the ball. It wasnt as if one of the United players was at it, they all were; both Nevilles, Scholes, Rooooooooney etc and Nistelrooy actually rakes his studs down Coles shin in front of Riley.

    While Riley is the boss, expect poor refereeing to continue. He is a weak weasle.

  2. I see Dean is the referee on Saturday.
    Decisions will be made, almost certainly not in our favour.

  3. Walter, watching Howard Webb on tv two nights ago I got a decent insight into why they go for secrecy and always will do unless something big happens to force change on them.

    Lineker, innocently (or cleverly!) asked a very simple question, in the friendliest tone possible, about why defenders are rarely penalised in their own box for grabbing at set pieces but forwards often are. Webb looked a little traumatised, uncomfortable to the tips of his toes, then, gathering himself quite well, he very slowly and carefully came up with the answer that…penalising the defender is more…’consequential’

    It was gripping stuff for a saddo like me who has become a bit obsessed with these referee b***ards (think I can thank this site for making things worse on that front). My impression of Webb was that he is a smart guy, smarter than most of his colleagues I’d bet, and that he is profoundly uncomfortable discussing anything even as controversial as that.

    The key thing is, Webb no longer works there, but through loyalty or because he’s smart, his instincts all seem to tell him less is more, or even essential.

    Later that night he commented on the Shaw challenge, again speaking cautiously and like someone who found it extremely onerous to commit an opinion (he could of course just not like tv, something I’d find very understandable- but am ignoring the possibility of!)

    Again, it re-affirmed to me how much trouble it could cause pgmol if they were to speak openly about the decisions they make. At the least it involves a loss of power and control. Or rather it puts much more pressure on you to achieve the highest standards possible.

    If you don’t speak, it’s so much harder for anyone to pin inconsistency or worse on you. In this case, if you came out and said the Shaw challenge was ok, if a similar one happens anytime soon and you deal with it differently, the inconsistency is laid bare.

    This , of course, is assuming they are fundamentally honest, or rather that there is not something seriously amiss there. If there were, something wrong, openness would be a complete disaster, to be avoided at all costs.

    In other words, the secrecy doesn’t prove they are rotten at the core; but if they were rotten at the core, the secrecy is an absolute pre-requisite for going about their business.

    I believe all this applies much more strongly to their reviews than to the discussion of any one incident. An incident is an incident, you can’t get into that much trouble if you say something relatively plausible. But the reviews…argh.

    Take only our games so far this season- did they like Atkinson’s free kick decision for West Ham’s opener? Did they think he awarded the correct amount of injury time?; Palace- did they think Coquelin should’ve gone (well, Masson has been dumped for four weeks so presumably yes); did they thing we should have had a penalty against Liverpool? Did they think Ramsey’s goal was onside (of course. Even they could not possibly deny that); did they like Marriner’s handling of the newcastle fouls/ game? ; did they think we should have had a pen this weekend?

    Those reviews change everything. For instance it would either be there starkly in official documentation that, for instance, Liverpool got three huge decisions, two of them undoubtedly incorrect, in their favour in the first three games; or, perhaps even more incriminatingly, you could have the sight of them saying an awful performance was a good one, after reviewing it thoroughly from all angles and away from the limitations of instantaneous real time judgement.

    Think Riley’s game 50- what on earth did the reviewers say?- if they approved, it means any time they say,elsewhere, booking people for the challenges he let go is the correct course, is clearly exposed as hugely and unexplainably inconsistent.

    They absolutely cannot let the light onto their inner workings.

  4. Well PGMO are as incompetent as always.

    Here is something interesting, no team other than Arsenal in the last 5 years in the Champions League has received more than 8 red cards. Real Madrid come second with 7 red cards in the last 5 years.

  5. Usama, that is why they jokinly speek about ‘Uefalona’.
    Barcelona light (= Arsenal) and their arch rivals getting most red cards… who would have thought that 😉

  6. This bad officiating is not limited to the Premier League, I must admit. The 1st goal scored against Arsenal by Dinamo Zagreb yesterday’s night in the 1st leg 1st round Uefa Cl game was an offside goal. And a match at the Afcon matches in Jan’ 2015 that involved the host country almost brought the whole competition down untimely shameful end, due to the match referee who tried to unlawfully favoured the host country. This bad officiating has unfortunately becomes rampant across the football World games, with Fifa not doing anything positive to arrest the ugly trend. However, I believe the English FA who gave birth to the game, can still save it from degenerating to further acrimony and racketeering, by taking the bull by it horns now and wrestle it down and slay it for others to follow their exemplary action on bad refeering reforms. Fifa won’t do the reforms, would they? But once the English FA do it, other World FAs will follow suit and do it too because of the historical and status respect they still have for her.

  7. The numbers from Untold’s records show that there are something like three wrong Important Decisions (second yellow cards, red cards, penalties and goals) per game when Arsenal are involved. Of these the calls against Arsenal outnumber those in favour by something like seven to one. Either there is a deliberate conspiracy or the PGMO are lying through their teeth about their performance (or quite possibly both). I know I trust Walter rather than any organisation who have Riley in charge.

  8. This bad officiating is not limited to the Premier League, I must admit. The 1st goal scored against Arsenal by Dinamo Zagreb yesterday’s night in the 1st leg 1st round Uefa Cl game was an offside goal. And a match at the Afcon matches in Jan’ 2015 that involved the host country almost brought the whole competition down untimely to a shameful end, due to the match referee who tried to unlawfully favoured the host country. This bad officiating has unfortunately becomes rampant across the football World games, with Fifa not doing anything positive to arrest the ugly trend. However, I believe the English FA who gave birth to the game, can still save it from degenerating to further acrimony and racketeering, by taking the bull by it’s horns now and wrestle it down and slay it for others to follow their exemplary action on bad refeering reforms. Fifa won’t do the reforms, would they? But once the English FA do it, other World FAs will follow suit and do it too because of the historical and status respect they still have for her.

  9. Walter,

    Haha, yeah UEFA always have favoured Barcelona everywhere since Platini came in as head of UEFA. And here is something more interesting Barcelona have received just one red card in the last 5 years of Champions League.

  10. Walter,

    I am currently reviewing the Dinamo Zagreb game. I am 30 minutes in to the match and I can tell you that so far its been very poor decision making by the ref.

  11. Good comment from Proudkev in there, I feel in that game he showed all that is wrong with refereeing. It is great that Untold do keep “banging on” about it and I hope they continue to do so. As a coach I know it is a difficult role that the refs have from doing the reffing in training games. How often do I explain that I have not seen something? If we did have top officials for our top League, with top players should our referees not be leading the way in calling for technology so we could regard our sport as accepting of the 21st century? Shouldn’t PGMO be the ones with the loudest voices asking for assistance which would ultimately improve those figures? I am sure they would be happy to promote 100% accuracy once the technology is up and running. Is that be being sarcastic?

  12. Riley’s recent partial admission seems a bit like that of a felon under interrogation who thinks he can limit the level of charge by admitting a small indiscretion in the hope that a more major one may be overlooked.

    The admission itself is inaccurate – the figure of 20 is wrong and the comparison against the total belonging to the previous season is spurious – since the Riley figure for the previous season is totally imaginative and deliberately misleading.

    I suspect Riley and his sponsors are feeling a little bit of heat and came up with a hoped for damage limiting number of 20 (as per my first paragraph)- any larger admission would surely lead to irresistible calls for technology.

  13. So standards are declining….think Riley is still pissed off that perceived ref mistakes allowed Leicester to beat Utd , scoring five in the process last season.

  14. Riley was cornered into admitting those failings by the commentators who couldn’t help but notice and point out the errors throughout the last season. The thing is, only the most obvious errors were highlighted, and I bet that if Riley gets further interrogation that’s what he’ll be prepared to show.

    Another interesting point is that the commentators continue noticing the errors, so there is every chance that Riley will come out next season with similar figures. It’s a slow trend, but with the reality we all know there is no way it can be upwards. Heaven help, in 2-3 years Riley will be questioned (after no English side gets past the ECL quarter finals – hopefully bar Arsenal).

  15. @florian,
    The BBC editing for MOTD is very subjective, for example they failed to show the Giroud penalty incident from our Stoke game, a clear cut error if ever there was one.

  16. Riley – Blatter – Similar policy of releasing just enough information to muddy the water. Probably just as corrupt though.

  17. In other news :-

    “FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has been put on leave and released from his duties until further notice.
    A Fifa statement said it had “been made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general”.
    Newspaper allegations on Thursday implicated Valcke, 54, in a scheme to sell World Cup tickets for above face value.”

    Naturally he denies the allegations!

  18. @Andrew, Sure, the selective editing has its part too (especially against Arsenal). Here in the US, the NBC Sports commentators are actually quite quick to point out the obvious mistakes, at a rate of about 1 per match. Maybe I’m gullible to believe the British TV commentators do the same:)

  19. From what you have written there seems to be a huge numerical problem here with PGMO’s numbers.

    We know that there were 20 more errors than the previous season.

    We know that this equates to 0.9%.

    Therefore we can conclude that PGMO believe that 2222 decisions around goals, penalties and red cards were made last season.

    From your numbers Walter we can see that you believe that 837 decisions were made (the numbers will vary slightly from season to season). But your stats were based on a subset of games. So multiplying by 1.75 (goals last season – 975 divided by 555 correct goal decisions – I know I am hugely oversimplifying but that is not the point) gives 1,470 decisions.

    That is some way short of 2,222.

    Therefore I can only conclude that PGMO take a very generous view of a decision – for example a cross into the box is headed out by the defender – but the referee “decides” (correctly) that it is a handball.

    So all these phantom correct decisions may go some way towards explaining the discrepancy?

    But still only some of the way…

  20. Andrew,,think Valcke FIFA number two…and that term works on more than one …unpleasant level. They seem to be getting close to their target.

  21. Very interesting Walter!

    Having said that; Riley and his toy (PGMO) are a huge problem in English football; as is FIFA in World football.

    Both need to be pulled apart in the same way!!

  22. I was just wondering if something a la west ham petition could be made…for a parliamentary debate…for greater transparency from pgmol. is it possible?

  23. @Samrat Jha

    Interesting point, however, and maybe Walter/ can enlighten us; PGMO is a Ltd company if I am not mistaken, if so then they are open to be scrutinized by the Consumers Association for fair trade?

  24. About that Riley 50th game.

    Why has that never been investigated?

    It wasnt as if there was one dodgy decision there were loads.

    At the start, Ferdinand took out Llujberg when he was through on goal. Blatant foul and a sending off. We had the Nevilles taking out Reyes (who had been targetted). In fcat Gary Neville was nutmegged by Reyes, lost his tember and then took him down from behind. Not even a card. Nistelrooy then went over the top and raked his studs down the shin of Cole, a blatant red. Nothing given. And yet minutes later the first booking was for Ashley Cole. The final insult was the Rooney dive, although I can understand teh refereee being conned by that.

    If that had been the other way around I have no doubt questions would have been asked. That game for me was the first time I ever thought something was not right. I was never a conspiracy theorist, I egnuuinely thought referees just made honest mistakes. That game changed my mind. Watch the highlights and please tell me how that game has never been investigated and why Riley was promoted. Stinks.

  25. @proudkev

    Yep, that game is the one for me. Unexplainable by normal means.

    I can only think of two normal means :

    (1) Riley is that bad a ref or is a ref capable of that bad a day.

    If he was that bad a ref, he wouldn’t have made it to the top level.

    (2) There exists the belief in English football that on big days the criteria changes slightly, more physicality is allowed, more should be let go… and, erm, if you have a highly technical footballing side…it’s legitimate, a good hearty healthy English response to rattle into them a bit.

    The first part of that is incredibly dubious, and, obviously, could only explain so much (think of Webb taking it to the biggest stage, the world cup final : he didn’t send of De Jong, but he was issuing cards all over the place for fouls which deserved it) ; the second is, clearly, madness. You cannot have different rules for one team, no matter how much the media talk would suggest you can.

    Those are the normal means and they do not explain it.

  26. Rich.

    I have watched that game and the highlights on YouTube a number of times. The more I watch it, the more I cannot understand how that game has never been questioned. It was clear that Man Utd players had targetted Reyes and had no intention of taking the ball in a lot of the challenges. The Ferdinand challenge on Ljungberg when clear through on goal at the start of the game, in isolation, you can maybe see the referee getting wrong. The same may also be true of the Rooney dive over Campbells leg. (Neither of these were made much of after the game – very odd). But the tackles from the ugly Neville sisters, Roooooooooneys late tackle and probably the worst of the lot, Van Nistelrooy trying to break Coles leg. Yet despite all these the first booking was to Ashley Cole for a nothing challenge.

    I ask everyone to please watch the youtube video and tell me what I am missing.

    I am convinced something sinister was at play. I cannot accept a referee could not only get so much wrong but also for one team. Whether he was biased, intimidated, paid off or just totally incompetent I don’t know. One thing I do know is that this match opened my eyes to the possibility something is not right in our game, highlighted by the fact Mike Riley was deemed the right man to head up the Premier League referees. A wet weasle of a man, proved to be incompetent or worse, gets promoted because he is ‘the best man for the job’. Is this serious?

    That game is a perfect example of what must never be allowed to happen.

  27. proudkev

    Funnily enough it was just this week I read an old Guardian article from the week after game 50. They, of course, found there were no grounds for believing anything fishy was going on.

    The numbers were pretty extraordinary , especially at Old Trafford- 14 games, ten pens for, one against ; 3 reds, 26 bookings against; one red, fourteen bookings for- but the Guardian suggest they looked through them all and found only two dubious ones.

    They also note that in the 2002-3 season, when he gave 7 pens in 5 games (!!!) for them, four of them were for shirt tugs.

    I had a quick look at one of them, and I reckon it was a pen, but the thing the Guardian missed there is, what about the possibility he gives a pen almost any time he can for Utd, but rarely if ever does for opponents. That would explain the absurd record, and game 50 sure fits that bill. The pen I watched for instance, for a shirt tug, was a bit less clear cut than Ferdinand’s on Ljunberg. Rooney’s pen was, of course, not a pen.

    Something else interesting comes up in that little piece : the one pen he ever gave against Utd at home, and the one time he ever sent off a Utd player at home were, in separate incidents, against Liverpool.

    That doesn’t half fit a pattern ; if someone wanted to rubbish any claims of favouritism for Utd a large percentage of the examples they’d produce would undoubtedly come from matches with Liverpool : Carragher allowed a yellow for a ridiculous foul on Nani, Vidic getting 4 reds against them; 3 pens in one game last year.

    It’s why I was darkly amused after reading a pretty decent exploration into the possibility something is wrong with Utd and officialdom, to think, bloody hell, and you’re a liverpool fan! Try being us, pal.

  28. Rich.

    Yes, those stas don’t point out bias but indicate that Riley gave the benefit of the doubt to Utd more than the other side. Was this because he was so intimidated at OT? We all know he is a weak little weasle, so possibly. I will never change my opinion that something was not right in that 50th game. I really do not want to beleive it was something dodgy but there are just so many wrong decisons it defies the law of averages.

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then in all probability it is a frigging duck.

  29. @ Rich

    I’ve watched it many times and know I shouldn’t because it still makes me very angry. It was completely contrived.

    Riley was not what I would call a good ref but no professional referee could have made so many poor errors of judgement when faced with so many clear cut decisions. Also, his bias towards Man U was pretty blatant throughout his career. That was a deliberate act to stop his favourite team’s biggest rivals (of the day) reaching 50 unbeaten. In fact I’m still not convinced that the game wasn’t actually scheduled to be the 50th so that the authorities could make sure it didn’t happen.

  30. goonermikey.

    I concur. That game was the time I started scratching my head wondering whether our game was corrupt. There were just too many events in that game that made no logical sense.

  31. To me as an Arsenal supporter the 50th match was 1 of those orchestrated games. Those when your team is so ‘fired up’ for the game that they kick the opposition out of the way when they do not do it willingly. When you look at the evidence, it is clear that the masons were at work. Riley is part of them and Fergie is senior to him in the rankings. So Riley is ‘told’ by the bosses that he needs to ensure Fergie gets a good result through any ways. Why do you guys think the PGMOB keeps their data in the dark? Have you ever seen the data regarding masons in the open? Riley was rewarded for his actions with the job as head of PGMOB and I would not be surprised if he received something for his officiating in the 50th match. Should be easy to establish if you check his ‘winnings’ in the 6 months after the match…..

  32. There are many far better mathematicians on this site than me but the PGMOL figures don’t appear to add up.

    As Pete said the 0.9% figure equates to 20 errors which means that all the important decisions amount to 2222 and of these 106 were errors. Against this our reviews showed a total of 837 important decisions over what I recall as three seasons (it could have been four and it would help to have the correct figure if anyone can help.)This makes either 279 or 209 errors then which are at least double the errors now suggested for last year.

    Frankly I don’t believe the figures PGMOL are giving us. The are already clearly partial and the base definitions are not explicit. The media should be digging as we write but sadly it will be for Untold to do all the legwork and prove that yet again we being given mountains of bulls**t.

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