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Why referees should be under the control of an outside body

By Tony Attwood

All organisations need to have standards.  Football clubs need to obey public safety standards and the special rules that apply specifically to football matches.  They also have to obey the laws on finance and accounting, on employment contracts, as well as football rules such as that relating to not taking youngsters across state boundaries (something Real Madrid and Barcelona found difficult to comply with) and so on.

PGMO – the organisation that employs football referees for Premier League matches – also needs to have standards, but in this case, and unfortunately for all of us, none seem to be imposed.

Of course I am sure they abide by UK laws relating to employment, paying taxes, health and safety and so forth.  But I have begun to wonder if this is enough.  Surely as Premier League football is such a matter of national interest, should they not go further than this?

I started thinking along these lines when our occasional correspondent Goonermikey pointed out to me the disparity between the utter secrecy in the way PGMO operates and the way charities are required to operate.

Now of course PGMO is not a charity, but because it is a monopoly (a factor that itself raises issues) I think that there are good reasons for demanding a much higher standard of conduct, which is visible to public scrutiny, than we currently have.

This topic came up because Goonkermikey passed on to me some details of a report released this week by the House of Lords Select Committee for Charities, which itself has come about partly as a result of some of the bad press the charity sector has had lately.

And it got me thinking, if Charities are subject to standards, and monopolies are subject to regulation, how come PGMO has seemingly escaped all regulation and is allowed to just do its own thing as a monopoly?

This week’s report into charities contains 42 recommendations including one that is rather interesting, headed, “Transparency, accountability and impact”.  I think we can honestly say that at this moment the PGMO rating would be

  • Transparency 0
  • Accountability 0
  • Impact 100%

And it is interesting that the House of Lords (which is the upper house in the UK Parliament) has made these comments (which are direct quotes form the report):

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“10. We believe that it is important for all but the very smallest charities to have a simple website or public social media page to provide that transparency. We recommend that public sector funders and other donors should evaluate the transparency of charities when considering requests for funding. “

“12. All charities should be seeking independent evaluation of their impact on their beneficiaries, in order to ensure that they are delivering for them and to demonstrate this to beneficiaries, funders and the public. The form of such evaluation may vary considerably, depending on the size of the charity and the type of work it is engaged in. “

As I say PGMO is not a charity as far as I know, it is a profit making organisation, but it seems to me there is every reason to feel that those two points laid down for charities should also apply to monopolies.

The report goes on to state that, “We endorse the suggestion in the Governance Code that charities should provide regular information to stakeholders that enables them to measure the charity’s success in achieving its purposes.”

It also says elsewhere in the report under the heading “Expectations and Trust” that “Trust cannot be taken for granted……..and charities need to be conscientious and scrupulous in order to retain that trust, maintaining their focus on transparency and accountability.”

Now that is an interesting point, because PGMO very much does take trust for granted, and by and large it is granted by newspapers, and 100% granted by broadcasters.

The fact is that the quite reasonable demands being made of the charity sector should also apply where there is a monopoly and a huge and legitimate interest in what the monopoly does, from the public at large.

There is also one further point: charities are regulated in part so that the good name of charities in general is not besmirched.  The entire way in which PGMO operates – its secrecy, its deliberate refusal to take on enough referees so no one gets to ref a team more than twice in a season, its wild and whackey statistics which a five year old child could blow apart in two minutes – none of this gives confidence.

Generally I don’t like government regulation of things, but in this case I will make an exception.  PGMO most certainly should be controlled by an outside body.

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18 comments to Why referees should be under the control of an outside body

  • Norman14

    Great article again Tony.

    I actually believe that PGMOL does NOT comply with Health & Safety rules when their referees are in “control” of football matches.

    Was Hector Bellerin protected by Health & Safety regulations in the game against Chelsea when he was knocked out by an elbow from an opposing player?

    The answer is “NO” he wasn’t, because no punishment was issued to the offender, either at the time or after the match concluded.

    The objective of having a referee in a football game is to apply the rules, as laid down by the various governing bodies. In England, the FA has appointed PGMOL to be that controlling body. So, by default, where a player suffers a serious injury at the hands of an opponent, the laws of the game should be applied “to the letter” by the official in charge.

    Obviously, such action does not prevent the injury in that case, but it does show that the officials will implement the laws of the game, by taking action against the offender. This then transfers to other players and clubs that serious foul play will not be tolerated.

    By failing to implement the laws of the game, PGMOL has in effect, failed to take action against a player causing injury to an opponent, and in this regard, H & S rules are broken.

    The referee who immediately sent of Neil Taylor for breaking Seamus Coleman’s leg took the correct action – and he therefore also adhered to Health & Safety laws.

    PGMOL referees are another matter – a law unto themselves. They need stopping before their actions lead to a serious injury.

  • Gord

    PGMO has no power to discipline players outside of the time they are “at” (not necessarily “on”) the field (during play).

    In the instance of England playing some other national side, The FA takes on the persona of an owner, and another body (UEFA, FIFA) takes on the persona of a regulator. In the instance of EPL games, The FA takes on the persona of a regulator. Which is the position The FA finds itself whenever a PGMO employee does or doesn’t do something of interest.

    It may be, that not enough officialdom has evolved? Perhaps there needs to be some worldwide body of officialdom needs to be instituted, of which an office is responsible for football? And it is actually that office, which should be a partner in the IFAB, instead of FIFA? As FIFA is surely in as much conflict as both an owner and regulator, as The FA is.

    Which doesn’t help with health and safety aspects (recent example of which is the leg breaking of Coleman).

    Officials certainly like to thing they can “control” a game, I haven’t yet tried to show of examples where they are obviously not in control of a game. I do believe examples exist.

    But, let’s say officials are in control of a game, and a “Coleman” incident happens. Are not the officials at least partially responsible? If the game is such, that it can not be demonstrated that officials are in control of it, should that not allow for external bodies (like the police) to investigate the incident vis a vis civil or criminal issues? Being a “nice boy” still doesn’t get you off the hook for assault in criminal court.

    I would say that at the very beginning of the game, by definition the officials do not have control of the game, as there can be no demonstration (proof) of that fact. Hence, a leg breaking incident very early in a game, should always be open to police investigation.

  • Leon

    The health & safety of footballers is the responsibility of their employers in the same way as the health & safety of referees is the responsibility of their employer. The referees responsibility of safety during a game of football is to see that the match is safe to play, the pitch is safe to play on, the footballers are in a fit state to play (not wearing jewellry etc), and any events that occur during a game are dealt with in a responsible & safe manner.
    There’s not much a referee can do to prevent a dangerous challenge if a player makes his mind up to commit to one, an idiot rushing onto the pitch to attack a player or just about any event that could occur at a live sporting event.
    But they have to deal with it responsibly if & when it happens.
    As far as I know a referee or his organisation has never been charged over H&S issues. They’d never do the job if they were liable in this manner.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Talking on that Bellerin and Alonso aerial Battle incident in a PL game at the Bridge this season in which Bellerin was elbowed down on his head by Alonso before he headed home for Chelsea, in the first place, that goal wouldn’t have stood if the match referee had whistle a foul against Alonso? But since the PGMO’s match referee on the day has blindfolded his mind not to see the foul so as to hinder the possibility of Arsenal winning the match but Chelsea, hence, he allowed the illegal goal to stand and consequently allowed Alonso to escape without getting carded. A red card? That would have been interesting. We saw Ibrahimovic got punished with a 2 game ban by the FA after they reviewed the incident in which he had elbowed a player which the match referee had allowed to go unpunished. But in the case of Arsenal’s Bellerin case, the FA did nothing which might indicates that the FA and the PGMOL are working in tandem to frustrate Arsenal when it comes to taking decision in Arsenal games to make sure Arsenal don’t win the League again under Arsene Wenger.

    One transfer rumour that has been making the rounds in the media and getting me thinking is the purported ambitious plan by Man Utd to sign Neymar from Barcelona this summer. But why don’t they make their ambtion complete since they have the financial capacity to do so by also sign Messi since Neymar seems not liking to leave Barca if Messi remains there? This is a great opportunity for Man Utd to explore and cement it this summer. They could afford the highly talented goalscoring Ibra to leave if they succeeded in signing Neymar and Messi and also if they can add Atonie Griezmann to their attacking line as also being purported in the media. But they should keep their young striker Anthony Martial as a squad player as they inevitably allowed some to leave. If they sign those 3 and with midfielder Paul Pogba in their midfield engine room, I can put my money on Man Utd to win the PL title next season and if they got a 4th place finish this season, I believe they’ll also have a very good shot at the UCL against the winners giant teams of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Sorry for my saying this, I am Arsenal for life but it appears Stan Kroenke is not the kind of super ambtious owner who will authorise the spending of very large millions of money in the transfer market to sign world class players to take a serious gamble on winning the PL and Ucl save if we can do a Leicester fortune. So, the failure to win the PL title and the Ucl by Arsenal in the last 5 seasons is not totally down to Le Prof but largely that of Kroenke not willing to recruit world class players beyond those of, Ozil, Sanchez and the lackluster Xhaka which of course will cost him large amount of money I would imagine.

  • Leon

    Very interesting situation in the friendly between France & Spain. Griesman goal rightly ruled out for offside after referee consults the video referee

  • Leon

    …..and It took no time at all to resolve with no complaints from France. So it does work.

  • Leon

    More consulting for Spain’s goal. Got it right again. Well the video ref

  • Leon

    That was for Spain’s second goal,

  • Gord

    Good to see you are watching football Leon. Spring approaches, I have more surveying and prep to do.

    I don’t think your reply is quite as good as you think it is. As you told someone else a few days ago, you should think about it a bit.

    And now, lunch time is done.

  • Leon

    Paul Ince is unable to accept the technology because it takes the passion out of the game, and the usually good Jackie zoakley was more concerned that Greisman had wrongly celebrated his goal

  • omgarsenal

    In any legitimate and professional footballing organization i have ever known, referees were subject to the Laws governing football (FIFA,EUFA,CONCACAF etc.)and were governed by an independent body that allowed the referee coordinator or Head of referees to do their thing, without too much interference from the national/provincial association.

    That said, referees must always be independent of any influence a league, club, individual or outside organization might try and bring to bear. They only answer to the Laws of the Game and to their national associations and FIFA. A FIFA official found to be countering the proper application of the Laws or to be influenced by outside pressures won’t last long, under ideal conditions. However, Football is almost NEVER played under fair or ideal conditions. The PIGMOB represent a monopoly that can do pretty much what they want in almost total secrecy. It is a mob style dictatorship operation and answers to noone other than Riley and his minions.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Was the video refereeing applied only for the goals or other decisions in the game as well??

  • Leon

    Arsenal 13
    Just those two times, although they could have used it on the penalty decision (but didn’t), which turned out to be correct, depending on your own point of interest.
    I think it was a good test & each time only took appx 30 seconds.

  • Leon

    My comments are always as good as I think they are?
    It’s in the referee’s job description that they are responsible for a players safety, but it’s virtually 100% unenforceable under H&S regulations. (think about it).
    In Law 5: The Referee, it states that: A referee or other match official: is not held liable for any kind of injury suffered by a player, official or spectator.

  • Sam Sayyed

    I always thought that Wenger win a title with Arsenal within 3 years of Video Refereeing (if it is implemented correctly with the video refs not suffering the same blinkered view as currently suffered by the on-field PigMole referees) is introduced.

    I almost feared that alas Wenger will go this season before the video refereeing is introduced and thus a great man will be denied the fruits of a decade of hard and honest work. Seems like he is staying. Just hope that the video refereeing is fully implemented soon enough before the media gets the chance to turn the heads of even more mindless Arsenal fans and make the situation for Wenger untenable.

  • Goonermikey

    @ Leon

    Yes Ince was a right pain in the arse. The presenter suggested that getting the decision right was surely the most important thing. “NO”, he said, “Wrong decisions are part of football”. What a muppet! I can understand how he would think like that though, he was a Man U player so most of the wrong decisions would have gone in his favour. I wonder whether he might have felt differently had he played for a team who was the victim of the majority of wrong decisions.

  • Menace

    The H&S in the UK with regard to football is a shambles. The Executive points to the Local Authority where the stadium is located as being responsible. The officials have a responsibility to interpret the Laws of The Game to ensure safety of the players. The Field of Play has specifications & these do not state that the field cannot be on the top of a Dubai hotel with a superb view & wonderful drop…………….. It is the responsibility of the officials to ensure moats, gutters & pits are safe in terms of run off areas for the players.

    This was covered on Untold some time ago but nothing seems to have been done (and published) to ensure safety both electrical & physical.

  • Norman14

    I’m not suggesting that a referee can prevent a situation that hasn’t happened yet – that would require amazing powers of telepathy on a scale of Nostradamus. Only John Moss, with his constant perception that Granit Xhaka IS going to kick someone’s head from London to Blackpool, (and give him a red card at the earliest opportunity), can claim to have such powers.

    However, the collective of PGMOL and it’s referees, can have an influence on the prevention on future serious injuries, by being CONSISTENT in their interpretation of the laws of the game. Therefore, by becoming more consistent, they are ensuring the safety of the players.

    I’m skeptical of this happening in the EPL, in much the same way that a VAR would be 100% honest and/or consistent in their decision making.