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February 2021

When do referee decisions influence a match?

By Walter Broeckx

On the website we could find this from the post match press conference and I must say Arsène Wenger hit the nail on the head there:

on the first goal seeming to be a handball… Honestly, I don’t know. I’m responsible for many things, but not for the referee’s decisions. I feel sorry for Hull but I feel that we had as well to cope recently with some decisions where you didn’t ask me this question. So I am sorry. I want the right decisions to be made.

on being asked at the Chelsea game about Bellerin and the foul… Yes, yes. I am sorry for that then. There are some other goals that we conceded, like at Man City, that nobody said was offside.

Now I must say that about the Chelsea game all those reporters seemingly did agree that there was no foul on Bellerin. So if they picked that as an example it was a rather bad example. Or a goof one in exposing them as not knowing the laws of the game and how to referee a match.


But this is how things go for Arsenal. We get screwed 50 times in a season and no reporter even reports is. No journalist is asking questions.


Let us take the non sending off from Gibbs. Much was made of it by some. But when in the Everton match Coquelin was fouled by the last defender Jagielka and Clattenburg (yes the same ref) only gave a yellow card…. not on of the press mosquitoes in the press conference mentioned it. Not a single word. So how come that the media make a fuss of this incident but didn’t make a fuss about Jagielka making the same foul? In fact Jagielka was a foul just outside the penalty area with Coquelin having the ball under control and dribbling past him. While the Hull attacker didn’t have the ball under his control. At the end of the day both Gibbs and Jagielka should have seen red. But the media only talk about Gibbs and didn’t mention Jagielka. Who did got send off in the last minute of extra time for a second yellow card. Too little too late.


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Now in a way Clattenburg can seem to be lucky that it was him who was the ref in the Hull match. Clattenburg has been build up in the media as the next Collina and they praised him for letting games go out of control (Chelsea-Tottenham last season anyone…) and so it is a bit difficult for them to now pull him down again. After all he is a bit the billboard poster boy of the PGMO for the moment. The Ed Sheeran of the referees.


But it isn’t just the press boys who have double standards.


I must say that when I was watching the game and doing my live match report I knew what would happen as long as it was 1-0. I knew that some posters would come out of the dark place they had been hiding for a long time and would come out to “rub our nose” in the favourable referee decisions we got. The goal (which could have been given if you carefully read the laws of the game) and the non sending off.


You can put your clock right on it that whenever we get a bit of luck from a referee decision some come out to shout: see there is nothing wrong with the referees and they don’t have a bias against Arsenal.


Arsenal getting screwed by referee errors more than 50-60 times this season alone and not a whisper is heard. Neither from reporters or from those who come on Untold when they think Arsenal has been gifted anything. We get the odd decision in our favour and they come out. Looking at that they a) are reporters,  b) could be reporters or c) should look for a job as reporter. The media would love their style.


As Untold is one of the few who do referee reviews we are a bit the centre of attention of course. But the thing is that they who came out of their dark place are also not being capable of being honest of what we do.


Is it that they don’t read the reviews completely? Is it that they don’t understand our English? Yes the reviews are written by 2 people who don’t have English as their mother language but the two other involved are real English and they could correct it if we would write things that nobody can understand. So I gather that if they understand it, it should be understandable for the rest.


The thing is that in those referee reviews we also mention the decisions that go in favour of Arsenal. I think (from the back of my head) that we had at least 8 big decisions going our way this season. So we do report them. But for some reason the brain of some people don’t see it or don’t want to see it. The pretend as if we don’t mention them at all. I think that is a bit dishonest from their part.

If they would have read the referee reviews completely and understood them they should have seen it. But somehow they pretend it isn’t there.


And that is where they meet the reporters. The reporters also, just like them,  only talk about the referee when he gives a decision in favour of Arsenal. Otherwise the ref is always right, makes no mistakes and certainly makes no mistakes against Arsenal.


Well Untold sticks out his neck about the referees and you don’t even have to believe we are right 100%  (I don’t want to claim this even) but even if you would take away 50% of the wrong decisions (have to take both in favour and against in the same way) the conclusion still is the same: there is nothing that shows that things  will even out at the end of the season. Or come to that halfway the season.

But the reporters only asking questions when a decision goes in favour of Arsenal and visitors who only come on here when a decision goes in our favour are doing the same thing. And given the evidence that we have found over what is it now… 5 or 6 seasons of referee reviewing…. they are being dishonest about the influence of the referees on Arsenal. And we try to report both ways where they only report it one way. When Arsenal gets a bit of luck. On one of those rare occasions.


You can’t have it both ways. If you say referees are of no importance when we get decisions against us, then you can’t talk about them when decisions go in our favour.   Last week Arsenal was getting screwed by a first goal that came from a foul and we lost a player with a head injury, not a word. Now we get a lucky bounce and they talk about. Either you accept referee influence all the time or you never do it.


30 comments to When do referee decisions influence a match?

  • keng cheong

    Dear Walter

    I am glad you picked up on this point i.e. those coming here and only pointing out the decisions that benefit Arsenal but fail to see those that doesn’t.

    I wonder sometimes are the genuine Arsenal supporters or haters of Wenger to such an extend that they do not want to give Arsenal any benefit of the doubt.

    I feel I want to write a response more often than not but they are so entrenched in their own views I just don’t want to get into any debate with someone who doesn’t want to acknowledge they are wrong.

    Finally, I want to take this opportunity to applaud your (and other Untold-lers) on their good work and eye opening discussion. I may not agree with them all the time but most of the time they do make sense.


  • Gabriel Abimbola

    Dearest AW,

    Beautifully reviewed and all well said. Hope you’ve gotten a solid plan to win CL Cup for us this ongoing season? with God by your humble sides, in you we’ll always trust. You’re the main reason I love Arsenal fc and our style of play. Pls remember you’re not only managing AFC but also the fans and our passionate emotions. Guide us on what to do about this referees never unbiased rulings. And take this to note, though it may sound rash, sell ozil (i love him but he’s not a suitable/reliable PL player, sometimes he drag games), retain our top scorer (Sanz) and sign for at least another season, likewse sign a prolific RW. Thanks.


    AFC is for all beautiful minds.

    Gabriel Abimbola

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Walter, nowadays for every Arsenal match , I know with certainty that there will be –
    -an early yellow card for our defensive midfielders or defenders , with the possibility that they will again receive another card ;
    -a penalty against us or a clear cut penalty denied to us ;
    – a few freekick out side the box for breathing too close to the opposition ;
    -not given fouls for pushes and trips ;
    -not calling of offsides for them , but whistling wrongly against us .

    If none of this has happened, then the PIGMOB tool has had a good game !

  • Richard

    Great piece Walter, now everyone who has an ounce of sense knows referees make mistakes. I would personally think the debate should be which of the current list of referees should actually officiate a game. Referees such as Taylor and moss just to highlight two are bordering on incompetence in any match they officiate. And you are spot on the ref reviews I have read on here cover decisions for and against arsenal then are given a weighted score.
    Yes referees can influence results but my argument would be that a team needs to do enough to take any bad decisions a referee may make out of the equation. Let’s take the hull game now hull didn’t do enough in the rest of the game for the two decisions that went against them to not have an effect on the result . The same as the Man City game for us after we scored we didn’t do enough to make the officiating irrelevant.

  • MickHazel

    Do you recall the game away at Man U last season which we lost 3-2. Rashford blocked an Arsenal shot on the goal line with his arm stopping a certain goal. That would have been the equalizing goal but rightly or wrongly wasn’t given by the ref. No mention of it in the media, no fuss, no discussion for days on end, no lucky Man U.
    Imagine if it had been Arsenal!

  • finsbury

    Do you mean like in the 50th game? With Viera etc. all on the pitch?*

    You are aware I trust that the official in charge of that fix is now in charge of the officials and has been these past few years (years in which England went from beating Argentina through the rise of the diving clogger ending in a sequence of humiliation against the giants of Ecuador, Costa Rica, Iceland etc…)

  • finsbury

    “The Ed Sheeran of the referees”*



    *for those who don’t know how the pgMOB conducts, and I quote, “game management” (nevermind the rules eh?), have a butchers:

  • Norman14

    I’m usually on the case of referee’s – not just Arsenal games either. But we are being continuously fed fake information by so called experts in the media, and maybe this makes us even MORE critical of referees than we might normally be.

    An example of this was last night’s game – Bournmouth v Man City. I thought Swarbrick and one of his Assistants (the bald one), were really poor. Throws in were given the wrong way, bad fouls by City were not given, questionable fouls against Bournmouth were penalised frequently and there was the “none” foul that lead to City’s 2nd goal, just when Bournmouth were taking it too them. As we have seen so often in the Riley era, the potential for 1-1 inexplicably becomes 2-0, with no reason other than the referee got it wrong.

    That “foul” – the Bournmouth player was nowhere near Sterling (?) in fact the replay showed he was heading the other way, AWAY from the City player. At first I though he must have clipped his ankle, but he wasn’t anywhere close. Amazingly, when questioned, Swarbrick indicated the “holding” signal, which clearly wasn’t the case.

    Given the amount of unpunished holding on that City were doing, the disallowed Bournmouth goal just reiterates the gross misconduct that is going on under Riley. No doubt the PGMO TV Mole will come out this morning and back up Niall Quinn who actually praised up Swarbrick with this gem:

    “He hasn’t missed a thing has he?”

  • Norman14

    Has Mark Clattenberg had enough? Some reports appeared last night that he might give it up and move to MLS!

    If true, let’s hope he turns down the PGMO “bribe” and writes a very honest book 🙂

  • Josif

    Excellent piece, Walter.

    Just one thing:

    Gibbs has told after the game that “Mark said the Hull player was going away from the goal”.

  • John L

    Gibbs will be in trouble for not referring to the official as Mr Clattenburg. Such apparent familiarity is surely the preserve of Chelsea and Man Utd players

  • Zedsaunt

    I’m still seething from the Chelsea game. Who would risk injury going for a 50:50 ball after the Alonso challenge, Bellerin stretchered off, the goal given? The bedrock of authority is respect. To respect the authority of the referee, the man who carries the authority of the referee has to be consistent and fair.

    What should be open, in public view – the training programme for referees. This has to include what training every referee receives to overcome the inbuilt bias of their mindset. To be even-handed and fair, to be worthy of respect, the person first trained to become a referee, and then assessed and deemed to be properly trained to the level of professionalism their role requires, this person, the succesful candidate, must first teach themselves how to be even-handed in dealing with the bias of their own minds.

    None of the pgMOB measure up to this. They ref as if they have just been talking to one of the FA Council’s 70 year olds about the good old days. The modern world has passed them by. The players are treated with contempt. The fans are treated with contempt.

    My thanks again Walter. Another excellent piece.

  • Rich


    I remember that handball well. It was barely deemed worthy of a replay, let alone discussion and controversy.

    The reaction to us being deemed to have got away with something is always a shocker. Amazingly, it prompted Gallagher to talk about VAR and how it would have stopped the goal/injustice.

    A bit chilling, that. Fair to assume even with VAR the Alonso goal would have stood and that this one would not have. So increased video technology, when it finally arrives, will not be a cure-all and may exacerbate the injustice at times. Still, on balance, it should help things at least a little.

  • finsbury

    Arsenal once had the wrong player sent off, for a handball on a shot going wide (therefore not a red card?).


    It all evens out eh? Hehehe

    You know how the Untold trolls love to quote some lobotomised plundit who dreams of being Alan Partdridge in order to support some flatulant opinion, well, why don’t hey get their chops around this quote from uber plundit Murphy:

    “I think Mike Riley [referees’ chief] is making referees the laughing stock. He does them no favours whatsoever.”


  • Rich

    Anyway, i’ve tried not to get too excited by this week’s controversy. Much easier to do when we win and when decisions go our way.

    Still noticed most of it,though. The hypocrisy, the failure of the pundits to act properly,etc. So simple, so little to ask of a pundit in Murphy’s position to be professional and lay out the case for and against. But, as is typical, just the against given, presented as though there isn’t even a case for.

    Why isn’t he compelled, as someone with a duty to try be neutral to say, ‘yes, they’re not given against defenders in that situation, rightly in my opinion, but for attackers it’s different, even if the laws don’t say so’ ? The only answer is that he is not compelled to try and be neutral and he naturally makes the choice to try present it in a certain, emphatic way.

    It really was golden that there was another handball goal on the same day. The contrast between how they were treated was just…wow.

    Pgmol and Gallagher really showed their true colours, that they will think nothing of twisting and lying to suit their agenda, by dismissing the Southampton goal as a legitimate one which went in ‘off his upper body’. Not even upper arm.

  • Zedsaunt

    The new book by Michael Lewis – ‘The Undoing Project’ – is compulsive reading, and tough reading. It is tough because it ”shows the ways in which the human mind errs, systematically, when forced to make judgements about uncertain situations.”

    To deal with this, the subject of the book – the psychologists Daniel Khaneman and Amos Tversky – ”shed new light on how we make decisions. Their ideas revolutionized everything, from Big Data to medicine, from sport to high finance, from how we are governed to how we spend.”

    The work of the psychologists created behavioural economics and led to the award of the Nobel Prize for economics in 2002. It leaves the pgMOB dead in the water. The inscription at the start of the book from Voltaire judges every referee you have had reason to curse – ”Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.”

    You seriously have to wonder about the good faith of the FA, FIFA, the football clubs, when such refereeing indiscipline is allowed to exist in a major sport on a globe where professionalism is a driving force in behaviour. Why is there no drive to make football the cutting edge sport where the professionalism of the game, in every aspect of the game, is the bedrock of the game?

    You are seriously left to wonder whether the EPL, with its pundits, crap referees, non-stop fake news 24/7, is designed to be exactly like it is, another version of Saturday teatime wrestling?

  • MickHazel

    I didn’t realize there had been another handball goal on the same day in the Sunderland match so I thought I would google it to see how it occurred.
    Couldn’t find a single video clip of it.
    So out of interest I googled Sanchez offside goal and guess what. There were dozens of videos on his.
    Very strange.

  • Usama Zaka


    That’s the problem, the media cries and moans about Arsenal so much that they leave out similar things in other games. Agenda?

    Anyways here is the clip. Found it on a Saints forum.

  • OlegYch

    exactly my thoughts, Walter
    i’ve stumbled across a perfect example of this on squawka (from a supposedly level 5 referee Omar Hamouda)
    he goes to great length to come up with a reason to disallow Sanchez goal, and ends up with
    “However, there has to be some common sense in this case and quite simply Sanchez’s hand – which is up in the air – is the only way the ball can end up in the back of the net, with the Chilean using it to his advantage to open his scoring.”
    but when talking about Gabbidiani stops at
    “However, replays show the ball actually struck his arm, which was beside his torso, and I think the decision to allow the goal to stand was right. Completely different to Sanchez’s goal, if you were wondering.”
    apparently the reason to allow the goal is that he thinks the arm was behind his torso
    no attempt to analyze whether it was deliberate, or whether it was accidental, and certainly not applying his ‘common sense’ in the same way
    not to mention that ‘Gabbidiani hand is the only way the ball can end up in the net’ is now not a reason

    and on another news site i’ve spotted an even more precious gem – “albeit not deliberate (which is completely irrelevant)” – note the completely part

  • finsbury


    Considering how far the ball has travelled, the attacker keeping his eye on the ball the whole time, when compared to the instant ricochet from under one meter away on Alexis’ goal it truly is remarkable how aggressive the plunditry towards AFC is.

    So we remark upon it.

    There are literally hundreds and hundreds of million$ of reasons why they are so aggressive towards the Arsenal, and it takes a great deal of effort to to unsuccessfully circumnavigate that understanding.

  • Gord

    It is interesting/horrible when one reads that Australia and Scotland are so impressed by the “man management” abilities of PGMO staff.

    How does one check this?

    And while I am thinking about this, I am busy building data from 1994/95. Some games have the time cards are issued as well as the time of goals. Sometimes all the home or all the away cards are so timed. Sometimes there are many cards to home, or to away.

    The idea is that when we have 4 or more cards to either home or away, we process data a little differently. We start by subtracting 45 from the times. We set up the data set of number of cards issued to that time, versus the time. We fit a quadratic to the data, and we look at the significance of the term in time squared.

    If the time squared coefficient is insignificant, the length of time between issuing cards is about constant. The referee has borderline control on the game.

    If the coefficient is significant and negative, the time between cards is increasing as the game progresses. The referee has control of the game.

    If the coefficient is significant and positive, the time between cards is decreasing as the game progresses. The game could be out of control, or the referee is trying to push a result and is running out of time to obtain the desired result and hence the increasing number of cards.

    Any problems with this logic?

    What would be nice, is if we had foul data as well. In general, the above data is only for the issuing of first yellow cards. There are few times where a person sees 4 (or more) second yellow cards, or red cards, or penalties (they probably fit this method as well) to either home or the away side.

    Things I am going to look for, is the number of times the number of cards issued to home equals the number issued to away (or more generally home – away), and how often a player who has scored in a game has been carded. For some of these circumstances, there is no time information on the card, so no way to tell if it is before or after the goal.

    This is a 22 team season, so there are 420 games in the set.

    I am picking up the referee info. This is present for all EPL games, it is often there for FA Cup games and is often missing for League Cup games. The FA and League Cup games seldom have card information. But, much of the time, it is hard to find out where the referee was based out of in 1994/95.

    There are many referees who are not north in this season. But like the current crop of referees, few of the referees seem to have moved from the region where they were born.

    I think this season is pre-Hackett at the helm.

  • MickHazel

    Thanks Usama for the links.
    The one against Sunderland actually looks as though it probably was deliberate so why no hue and cry about it. I just asked an acquaintance what he thought about Southamptons handball goal and he knew nothing about it, the same as I didn’t.

    How can that ref say the arm was behind his torso, is he blind, it clearly wasn’t. He actually moves his arm in front of his torso so as to make ball contact. Maybe PGMOL should employ that ref, he seems to be of the necessary standard to succeed in the Premier League.t.

  • OlegYch

    Gord, that would be very interesting to read
    Mick, i apologize, i’ve typed ‘behind’ when i meant ‘beside’, however the squawka guy might have just used ‘behind’ too, as i’ve noticed he has very selective vision

  • MickHazel

    Beside, behind, no difference, his arm was clearly in front when contacting the ball.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I’m going with it being a legitimate goal as either it came of the head of Sunderland defender and on to the hand , and/or O’Shea seems to be unfairly pulling and twisting Gabbidiani .

    So 98% it is ! Selective , but …..

  • OlegYch

    Brickfields, it could just be ‘common sense’ for it to be allowed

  • Norman14


    No good trying to unravel the mind or brain of Mike Riley.

    He isn’t blessed with either.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Think things will get worse as the media and PGMOL scent a chance to be riid of Wenger..the media have really upped things against the Boss, and this is all part of it.
    Just hope when he goes, Arsene writes that book

  • Menace

    Zedsaunt – I’ve been seething since the 50th. Before that I was screaming to all that wanted to listen that the Referees were corrupt. The 50th showed clearly how bad it was. The 3 I hated were Wiley, Riley & Bennet.

    How do referee decisions influence a match? One analogy is driving on a straight road & being stopped or slowed down every 20 yards. The distance takes a long time to cover as each interference eats up time. The time is the least significant aspect as the moral depletion is key. It creates frustration & eventually forces an uninhibited reaction.

    This is where in football, the cards get issued (despite several other incidents that warranted cards). The referee appears to be in control & he usually is. The crowd gets restless & sing ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ but in actual fact he knows exactly what he’s doing. By now the team that has been targeted is reduced to a change to manage the additional opponent. This opponent has a whistle that controls your mind. Heel boy. Sit!

    All the media say ‘woof’.