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“How bad is some of our refereeing in the PL? Simply awful.” Talksport, 9 April 2017.

By Tony Attwood

Although it is generally forgotten by commentators who come to Untold without reading about its background or history, one of the reasons that Untold was set up was that of being a campaigning site.  For example, campaigning about the way in which the mass media reported refereeing – and about the refereeing itself.

When I started the site some nine years ago, the notion that any commentator would say something like “How bad is some of our refereeing in the PL?  Simply awful,” was just fantasy land.  Yes Alan Green would criticise referees a little, but he was told to shut up by his employers (possibly under pressure from the League), and ultimately he did.  Subsequently the most we might have hoped for was a mild, “well, I think the referee might have been mistaken there, but of course these days the game moves so far it must be very hard for the referee.”

Followed by

“Absolutely Brian.  We have the best referees in the world.”

But it has been changing during the past year, and although many will laugh at me for this, I do think the long running referee previews and reviews, followed by the review this season of the first 160 premier league games of the campaign complete with video evidence, has made some people in the mass media rethink their position.

And the final proof is the comment reported in the headline above, as said on TalkSport today.

It has always been my view that the media will of course self-censor to protect their investment – the money they have paid the PL for the right to broadcast.  If it ever becomes a prevalent belief that refereeing is so awful that the League table is not a true reflection of what happens, then suddenly that investment becomes worthless.

It has been quite a challenge to find a way to beat this barricade of silence, a barricade so strong that many correspondents on this site are moved to jeer at the notion that there is anything wrong with refereeing in the Premier League.

And we have always be careful to suggest that from the evidence we have it is impossible to tell if this is incompetence or deliberate match fixing.  The activity of the PGMO makes it impossible for us to be sure which is which, although the statistics do point in one direction.   (Incidentally if Untold ever suddenly changes its tune, you will be able to know we have been threatened with legal action.  Risking my house against the Premier League’s billions is not really an option).

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The approach we’ve had has been one that quite simply aims to beat the media into submission.  If we could get more and more people to recognise that the evidence (particularly that from the first 160 games of the season, and from the two year production of Referee Decisions written by referees who have no connection with Arsenal) then ultimately the media would realise they are starting to lose the hearts and minds of their audience.  The media (or at least the Daily Express) will tell us that there has been a previous mission to Mars with the aim of establishing a colony there, but if the League leans on them to stop them talking about dodgy refereeing, they will always bend the knee.

Which is why today’s outrage by Talk Sport presenters at the end of the first half of the Sunderland v Man U game, is so noteworthy.

It has been a long campaign, but over the past year or so we have seen some previous real movement,  but this was another step forward as the outrage expressed in the first half by TalkSport commentators was unremitting.

Now it is true that in the second half they said nothing more on the subject, which makes me think that the editors and executives had urgent words with the commentators, but we have heard some significant comments about “wrong calls from the officials”.  Now all we have to do is to get them to ask “why?”

We didn’t get that but among the things that were said we had

“If that is a red card it is a waste of time taking the field.”

“The refs know so little about the game…”

And later speaking of the PGMO, “They will club together and say everything is all right.”

And then, “Refereeing is just terrible.”

OK it is still going to be a long journey from here to get them to talk about “why?” but we have now broken through the first hurdle.  So we can say, “Now for part two”.

So to the commentators and media people who I know do, from time to time, read my rambles on this site: the gate is open there is no going back.  If you are not going to be left behind you really have to face the question seriously: Why is refereeing in the Premier League so awful?  Debating whether it is awful or not is no longer a current topic.

Only 18% of Premier League referees manage to get more major decisions right than wrong!

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32 comments to “How bad is some of our refereeing in the PL? Simply awful.” Talksport, 9 April 2017.

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    I’ve only seen one clip of the tackle on utube. Looked o me like a frontal tackle, studs showing on the leading foot which was high making contact with the United player mid shin. The follow up took out the player. It is exactly the sort of tackle that we have been saying for years should always be treated with a red card.

    So far this year, on the basis of the first 160 games, no referee has given a red card (I’m speaking from memory without having checked). I suspect what we have here is a case where the referee is technically correct with his decision given in the full knowledge that he would be unlikely to get much criticism in the same way as a technically correct but ‘soft’ decision against an Arsenal player would get no voices raised.

    I’m certain that the same challenge by a United player wouldn’t have been treated with a red card.

    The pundits, as usual, seem to have display.ed their complete ignorance of the rules of the game.

    Of course, a more comprehensive view of the incident from various angles might well prove me wrong

  • Leon

    A bit wimp from Talk Sport, but it’s a start.
    Are you also liable to be sued if your commenters libel the PGMO? Enough of them do, and it’s possible that you could be legally obligated to hand over IPs & email addresses etc?
    I would have thought that some of the PGMO critics here are leaving you exposed, and I’d be devastated if Menace had his collar felt.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Let’s hope that referee Micheal Oliver will be totally fair and just in the discharge of his referring duty in the important PL match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Shelhurst Park tomorrow night. Any attempt by the Pgmol’s Micheal Oliver, his 2 linesmen and the match fourth official to tilt the result of this match against Arsenal will not be accepted by the Gunners and Le Prof right there on the field of play and in the away dogout even if the match fourth official threatened to have him sent off to the stands, Le Prof will budge. More so, as the referring of this match will not be regulated by any operation of the Video Assistant Referees deployment to put into check any showing of lack of match referring integrity and showing of match manipulation excesses by Micheal Oliver and his 3 other match officials.

    With Manchester United leapfrogging Arsenal to 5th position in the table this afternoon at the Stadium of Light in their match against Sunderland, Arsenal MUST leapfrog them back and go 5th in the table with an 0-3 convincing win over Crystal Palace. And from thereon, we’ll see which 3 clubs out of the big 5 clubs of: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspurs, Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd will grab the remaining 3 Ucl spots this season with Chelsea haven grabbed one of the available 4 spots yesterday when they sounded Bournemouth at away.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    Interesting, Leicester City winning run excesses in the Premier League after they sacked their former PL winning manager – Glaudio Raneiri has been called to order at the Goodison Park this evening as Everton put them to the sword by a 4-2 win with Romelu Lukaka scoring twice in the game.

    But why did Le Prof not vie to sign a top PL quality striker of Lukaku’s caliber who has consistently been showing the high goalscoring quality he’s made off earlier seasons instead of Le Prof to have signed Lucas Perez? This is not a query to Le Prof. But I just wonder why the failure in identifying the very correct player Arsenal should sign to better enhance their lack of PL win which has extend to over a decade now. A lacking which has led to disgruntlement in some Arsenal quarters against Le Prof for five years running or so.

    Do Arsenal need a technical director who will be better at identifying the very right player or players Arsenal should sign as from next season? Or an immediate upward review of the Arsenal scouting system will address the failings correctly?

  • Josif

    Why referees in England suck?

    1) The game is too quick for their physical condition.

    2) There are very few of them and they are not used in an economical way so the same ref can find himself doing a game on Saturday AND Monday.

    3) There is an unwritten rule that football in England is a special thing which means that referees have to bend the rules to fit the English football and not vice versa.

    4) A spirit of colonialism which means foreign players won’t get away with things English players do (i.e. Hart headbutting Oliver and getting no card at all while Di Maria got a red card for lesser contact with the same ref; Cresswell getting a yellow card v Man United for the same foul Xhaka had been sent off v Swansea by the same ref Jon Moss).

    5) Obsession with the word “intensity” at the expense of words “economical”, “technique” and “intelligent”.

  • OlegYch

    Andrew, doesn’t look that way to me
    Larson wasn’t diving for a tackle, he just played the ball and slipped after that
    Herera otoh wasn’t trying to play the ball

    i think it’s pretty similar to the ‘foul’ on Matic in 2015 which caused major outcry in the media

  • Menace

    Leon – have no fear on my behalf. I have challenged the PGMOL to take me to court for calling them cheating corrupt officials of the game. There is sufficient proof to support my claims. Besides there will be many a media deal waiting to fund my case. The game is bigger than the PGMOL so it will always win.

  • Jared

    Tony, Ixnay about the legal action-a. Don’t give the PMGOL any grand ideas!

  • John L

    Why did Huth and Mirallas not get red card for their confrontation. Both raising their hands etc. etc.?

    Contrast with Giroud who was sent off against QPR a few seasons ago, for far less.

    Referees are incompetent as well as biased.

  • para

    Those of you who feel you may be attacked for your stance must be aware that court cases may be the least you have to worry about.

    It seems to me to be much bigger than the PGMOL, who are just another “level of the pyramid”.

    I’m not sure that Ceferin really means “the football pyramid” in this quote:
    “Quite simply, money does not rule and the football pyramid must be and will be respected. It’s as simple as that.”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Crap refereeing is crap refereeing . My eyes don’t lie .
    Doesn’t matter how one wants to address it or dress it up.
    It is a constant .

    Am sure all the AKBs worldwide will donate generously to Menace’s defence fund ! Why , even I may decide to come over and pelt a few of them with all those unexportable rotting fruits and vegetables from the docks !

    Strange how all the wrong people are seemingly getting hot under the collar !

  • Gord

    There was a bit in the news out of Wales, about a couple of sheep invading the pitch before and during game time.

    Apparently a referee was interviewed about this, and he went on about player safety and not allowing play to happen if there was “sheep dirt” (or something like that) on the field. I am pretty sure the referee was referring to either urine or feces. Why he/she couldn’t say so, I don’t know.

    I don’t believe the Laws of the Game have any section about urine and/or feces; from animals or humans. I’m not sure how there is a section on player safety in the Welsh version, but not in the English version.

    But, surely the referee is confused.

    No stadium that is open to the air can ever hope to keep out urine and feces. Birds fly over all the time, and they are incontinent. If they have to go, they go.

    Players, fans and officials just hardly ever notice. I did talk to one person who while visiting Vancouver Island, managed to get hit right in the ear by some seagull poop. I wouldn’t fancy that, there is supposed to be a high parasite count in just about anything from a seagull.

    Perhaps if a Canada Goose or an albatross dumped on the field, someone would notice. But I think at the end of the day, the referee was just trying to impress someone. They really don’t care at all about player safety.

    For any reason.

  • Gord

    I just noticed, my comment comes right after Brickfields talking about “crap refereeing”. 🙂

  • Leon

    A bird crapped in Ashley Young’s mouth a while back

    When I was in schools football we played a local team who let cattle onto their pitch during the day and we had to dribble round the turds. Not a H&S risk.

  • Leon

    ….dribbling round the turds on this blog though is another issue altogether .

  • finsbury


    Another failed effort to undermine the Untold blog from the groaning genius’!

    The fool of a troll has helpfully highlighted for the reader that the pgMOB has for some unfathomnable reason not taken anyone out there to task for questioning it’s odius structure (there are many that do so week to week all over the ether), unlike say FUFA which sends people to jail for wearing the wrong t-shirt, or the broadcasters which go to great lengths to block YouTube uploads.

    We all know the reason why not.

    Don’t give up the day job just yet dear 😉

  • Menace

    Leon – you don’t know f’all! Cows don’t drop turds! They’re called cow pats & are probably good for keeping insects away.

  • Leon

    They’re just shit by another name

  • Leon

    The Finsbury turd needs to read the article above where the author draws attention to his situation re legal action from PGMO.
    Take it up with him fool.

  • Nitram

    Leon on the 10/04/2017 at 1:24 pm

    “Turds/pats/finsbuys. They’re just shit by another name”

    Leon on the 17/03/2017 at 5:27 pm

    “The only opinion that matters on this blog is Nitram’s.

    Doesn’t matter how polite you are to him he’ll insult you, unless you agree with his often twisted logic.

    It’s just the way that he is”.

    Or rather Leon, it seems ‘it’s just the way YOU are’

    If you’re going to hold someone to such exacting standards, at least have the decency to maintain them yourself otherwise people may draw the conclusion you’re a hypocrite.

  • Leon

    Have you decided to become a troll now?
    In case you’ve not noticed it Finsbury has been trolling me relentlessly for appx six months and I only ever respond in kind to his comments to or aimed at me.
    I think that’s reasonable don’t you?

  • Nitram

    Leon on the 10/04/2017 at 2:40 pm

    “The Finsbury turd needs to read the article above where the author draws attention to his situation re legal action from PGMO.

    Take it up with him fool.”

    When you accused me of insulting people I refuted it and asked you for evidence. You produced none.

    Now you are throwing insults around like confetti at people who simply don’t agree with you. The exact thing you accused me off, without a stitch of evidence.

    Personally I don’t really have a problem with a bit of ‘heated’ debate, but I do have an issue with people who profess to be ‘Holier than though’ then turn out to be nothing more than utter hypocrites.

  • Nitram


    No I don’t have a problem with you responding.

    I have a problem with you being a hypocrite.

  • Leon

    Look, my issue here is with Finsbury. You don’t have a clue what it’s about, but If you think I’m an insult throwing hypocrite that’s Ok with me. I can live with that .

  • Nitram


    Well I’m glad we got that sorted.

  • Pat

    Well I enjoyed the debate about faeces on the pitch. I laughed a lot, so thanks to Gord (as so often) for starting it off.

    Tony is definitely right – people everywhere in the media are talking about refereeing. Not always to much purpose, but talking all the same. It just shows, if you persist in pointing something out and don’t give up, sometimes you can have an effect.

    The very fact that the Telegraph now has a weekly referee review is a step forward. Whatever is said.

  • finsbury


    Given the timing & content of the comment written and published at 11.24 (before i commented on this thread) we can indeed sort and identify what the troll is failing to do to the comments section of Untold.

    Ten (nine?)years of failing to troll Untold. Feels like groundhoog day? Nevermind dear.

  • ARSENAL 13


    The referee was hiding something…It was a dragon on.the field. Which can be an issue for player safety. You don’t need a barbequed footballers do you….

  • Gord

    How do you hide a dragon?

    Well, I suppose you could hide a komodo dragon, they are just a man-size-ish lizard (with bad breath).

    He swooshed down from that “mountain” in Wales?

    I see that the translation of ‘dragon’ to Welsh is draig. Does this mean that the “referee” we actually know of as “Dean”, is actually named “Draig”?

    Maybe I am imagining things, but I think I seen:
    The Home of the Dragon -> PGMO Draig
    The Mother of the Dragon -> 😈 Mike Riley Draig

  • Menace

    Leon – you cowpat. You smelt of troll from your first comment. You couldn’t hold a candle to finsbury or that matter any of the regular Untolders. So go play in the traffic or roll in a patch of fox shit to disguise your stink. I do not like disruption.

  • Leon

    My first comment which seems to offend you & the finsbury turd is an opinion on Tony’s comments about being “being threatened with legal action” (in his article), so take it up with him. Is he trolling himself then?
    So what actually is your issue with it anyway?
    The irony of your last sentence.

  • What a display! Martinez , Bellerin, Mustarfi, Koscieny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Ramsey , Alexis, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Iwobi. The rest can’t be trusted for 1 reason or another. Are we up to the same tHing, in God we trust! IWIT! Play just them only