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June 2021

Why any return to Europe next season will bring Arsenal fear and trepidation

By Tony Attwood

Of course I would love to see Arsenal in the Champions League once again next season, difficult though that is going to be to achieve.

I’ve had the good fortune to go to most of the Champs League home games we’ve played (and had a good night out most times, despite the drive home along an M1 which is invariably reduced to one lane for about 30 miles in order to keep road cone manufacturers in business).

But while one part of me is delighted to see that Untold’s nine year campaign to point out that there is serious evidence of either gross incompetence or match fixing by referees in the CL and in the PL, has led to this issue being reported (at long last) in the newspapers, I still despair at what the papers do with this information.

The Guardian for example today says,

“It would be a great service indeed if Uefa ditched the Champions League anthem for the remainder of this season’s competition and replaced it with Dance of the Cuckoos, the theme tune from Laurel and Hardy. The players could still line up and listen to it with awed reverence, of course, because that would provide an amusing and instantly shareable meme for folks wishing to illustrate the contrast between what the competition purports to be and the farce that it often is.”

How absolutely apposite.  And my point really is not to say “I told you so over and over again” but rather to fear for what comes next.

The paper continues…

“The quarter-final between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich was trailed as a high-brow duel that would offer the thrills of a blockbuster and the substance of an art-house classic. Instead it risks being remembered as a goofy skit splattered with decisions so spectacularly wrong as to provoke a physical workout, being at once breathtakingly, eye-poppingly and thigh-slappingly rum.”

Now this looks like the message has got through.  There is something terribly screwy about the way Champions League matches are refereed.

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And yet the self-same newspaper can also be running today the headline

No repeat miracle for Barcelona as Juventus again prove impenetrable


To suggest that Barcelona performed a miracle in the last round against PSG is crazy beyond crazy.  This was the game which the Independent profiled with the headline “PSG send five-page letter to Uefa over referee in Barcelona defeat”.  The game after which the Metro gave me a momentary lift of hope when it wrote “Barcelona vs PSG: UEFA opens disciplinary case against Barcelona”, only for that little hope to be dashed when I read that it was reporting the fact that Barcelona will be fined because their fans ran on the pitch at the end.

Sadly for most of the papers the existence of a petition with around a quarter of a million signatures demanding that the PSG game be replayed hardly made the news, and instead we got

  • Barcelona make Champions League history with stunning comeback … (Metro)
  • 7 reasons Barcelona’s glorious 6-1 win against PSG was the greatest … (Mirror)
  • Barcelona 6 PSG 1: Miracle at the Nou Camp as Barca complete … (Telegraph)

But the Guardian (at least via their chief football writer Paul Doyle) is moving in our direction.  Speaking of the Real Madrid match he wrote, “The game was afflicted by so many significant distortions – such as Artur Vidal’s unearned red card and Cristiano Ronaldo’s bogus goal – that Real’s victory belongs in the same category as Barcelona’s tainted comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, which might not have happened if not for rampant diving by the players and decisions made by officials who performed as if freshly graduated from the School of Rough Guesses.

“Real’s victory came on the same night as their neighbour, Atlético Madrid, progressed to the semi-final by beating Leicester City 2-1 on aggregate, the first goal coming from a penalty awarded for a foul outside the box. That, too, was a significant distortion, although at least Marc Albrighton was not sent off, unlike Andreas Beck, who was dismissed during Besiktas’ defeat against Dynamo Kyiv in the group stages for a challenge made outside the box – and made on him, to boot.

“Whether or not we agree with Arsène Wenger’s suggestion that Arsenal might not have lost to Bayern Munich, let alone by 10-2, if the right decisions had been made when it came to red cards and penalties, it is clear that this season’s Champions League has been devalued by a succession of flamboyantly wrong decisions.”

At last.  It is said.

Of course, given the reports we have produced – for example in our detailed analysis (complete with video evidence) of the refereeing decisions of the first 160 games in the Premier League this season – this is not very profound stuff.  We have been reporting matches where the referee accuracy level on important decisions is around 50%.  But the fact that a national newspaper comes out and says it, is a further sign that things are changing.

Now there are still those two fundamental issues missing: the ability to remember that there is something odd going on, for more than a week, and the question of why is something odd going on?

Knowing that I will be boring you by saying the same old thing over and over and over and over again, I will say it again: it is either down to absolute incompetence or match fixing of the type that we saw in Italy in 2006 and 2012 (and how ironic that this time the match fixing focus was not on Juventus).

I make no accusation that any referee is bent.  What Untold does over and over is point out that the level of errors and the fact that it absolutely does not balance out in the end and is at a level far beyond anything the media reports day by day week by week.

And here’s another moment of progress.  For in the Guardian article we also find this…

“It is not just the Champions League, of course. On Sunday, Ross County were able to nick a late equaliser against Celtic thanks to a penalty awarded when Alex Schalk’s audition for the RAF Falcons parachute display team was mistaken for a foul. And earlier this month the referee Keith Stroud was given a 28-day suspension for awarding a free-kick to Burton Albion instead of ordering Newcastle to retake a penalty after encroachment by Dwight Gayle.”

Stroud certainly needed to be dealt with because he didn’t make a faulty decision on who was to blame, but got the rules wrong.  And yet what the press forget is that we saw the same at the Emirates earlier this season when a referee utterly screwed up over a free kick scenario (Ref Review Arsenal – Stoke: the match in which the ref shocked up by making up his own new rule)  Sadly, and perhaps because it involved the Arsenal, no action was taken against the ref in our match.

And yet, and yet, the Guardian article does get oh so close to asking the right question:

“Why would the authorities choose to leave matches so exposed to human fallibility when they know that that also leaves matches more vulnerable to human venality?”

Yes yes yes yes yes.  At last in an article to do with refereeing we have the “why?” question.   It has only taken 102 years (the length of time since the first gigantic match fixing scandal following by the first gigantic match fixing cover up – it was Man U v Liverpool 2 April 1915 – conniving to draw so that Chelsea would go down.)

So, yes, if you have been with Untold for a while you will have been bored stupid by my going on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about the fact that something is not only seriously wrong with my computer (in that it keeps on wring the same phrase over and over) but something is even more seriously wrong with refereeing, both at home and in Europe.

The evidence is there.  Next we need the newspapers to remember it and not forget it when the next match comes around.  Perhaps I can send them some memory enhancing pills.

In praise of AKBs and their vogvdlxsuibcjmjuz. But really, how did it get this bad?

Jon Toral, pure filth, Bjorn Engels, and journalists who forget and think we do too.



24 comments to Why any return to Europe next season will bring Arsenal fear and trepidation

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice to hear a few new dissenting voices this season . Am patiently waiting for the tsunami that is yet to come. Just don’t know where the earthquake will strike first .

    In the meantime , Tony , keep on up with the little pre- shocks . Sooner of later they are all going to feel it !

  • Nitram

    I never get bored with it Tony.

    It is great work and you and all at untold deserve great credit.

    As you will know from my previous comments on this I am still very sceptical as to any progress being made, despite all untolds hard work and such articles in the guardian.

    The reason being is that the only places it matters for this issue to be taken up is the popular media.

    SKY, BT, Talksport, The Red Tops etc. If any of these take it up, and I mean take it up, not just a passing comment at Midnight or stuck away in a corner of page 20, I will start to believe something is happening.

    But you just have to go back to the last time you spotted a glimmer of light, within a couple of days we had the ‘Referees get 98% of decisions correct’ debacle all over SKY Sports.

    That is the same SKY Sports all my friends and work colleagues watch.

    The same friends and colleagues that wouldn’t know a broad sheet if it smacked them on the head.

    That is my issue Tony.

    When we talk football all I hear are the same things I’ve heard since I was knee high to a grasshopper.

    Refs are crap but it all evens out.

    Big Clubs get all the decisions.

    Arsenal are a bunch of divers.

    Wenger never stops whinging.

    I have never, not once, heard any comments along the lines that there is anything fundamentally wrong or corrupt with the way the game is run and or officiated.

    So until I see consistent reference to these issues in the ‘popular’ press then I will reserve judgment.

    But despite my reservations you must keep up the good work because you just never know.

  • Hunter13

    nitram there was a misunderstanding yesterday, i apologise. have expalined myself in previous article…i was going for alex..heh

  • Goonermikey

    Like nitram I too will never get fed up of the mantra. Keep up the fantastic work. I fear nobody will ever pay for the ineptitude or bias we have seen to date but hopefully one day they will realise that they’re close to being caught and change their ways.

    As a footnote, I do find it incredibly interesting how the English press is considerably more willing to criticise “those damned Europeans” though…….I guess it’s just part of a general trend and, of course, the British would never stoop to cheating…………it’s just not………well, cricket!!

  • Norman14

    This is never boring Tony, but some people, for some strange reason, are not interested in the possibility that the game in England might just be a bit, erm, bent!

    They fail to grasp that UA shows a majority of referee reviews for games involving Arsenal, because it is, indeed, an Arsenal supporter’s site.

    Unfortunately, The Guardian will quickly be shown the error of it’s ways, by attempting to suggest that some referee decisions might not be all they are cracked up to be. In spite of their willingness to dip their toe into the icey waters surrounding PGMOL, they have carefully avoided citing a match that is actually (1) in the EPL, (2) has a PGMOL official in “charge” or (3) refuting any claims by PGMOL that their officials are the best in the world with 98% of decisions being correct.

    Perhaps next time (and I’m certain it won’t be long), The Guardian defends a wrong decision by a referee, we should all remind them of their recent attempt at fairness.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    I suspect in the Premier League case, the FA in conjunction with the Pgmol are the ones fixing the outcomes of some Premier League matches with the sole aim of deciding which PL team will be crowned the champions at the end of a season campaign.

    While in the Champions League, the difference is not much from that that’s obtainable in the Premier League as UEFA match fixing seems to be on the rise with their recent match fixing doing in some CL matches which are fixed through their appointed referees, who have been directly or indirectly briefed to allow certain teams to go through to the next round because of the market income value these clubs bring to UEFA. e.g. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, PSG, Juventus and Manchester Utd. But when the draw paired these clubs to play against themselves, there could be problem there. But notwithstanding, UEFA will still fix the match by selecting which club they want to see go the next stage through their referees as we saw in the biased referring of the Ucl match between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich yesterday at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Match fixing in Fifa World Cup matches, qualifiers and the finals is at the minimal level I would think. Because Fifa have taken a bold step since the South Africa world cup tournament to stamp out match fixing or the likeness of it from their games when they accepted the introduction of the goal line technology in their organized games after the Frank Lampard’s goal that was not given in the world cup finals match between Germany and England. And recently, at the Japan’s world clubs cup tourney when Video Assistant Referees was introduced officially to help the referees decide correctly whenever they have initially ajudge wrongly especially in the offside situation. The hopes are, the VARs will cover other areas of match referring later in which the referees have come short.

    However, the FA through their affiliate Pgmol and UEFA are not seen to be taking any step to stop match fixing in their games. Rather, they have appeared to be encouraging it as they have not taken any action to stop it or discourage it if their lukewarm attitude at implementing the Fifa VARs technology application can be interpreted to mean so.

  • Alexanderhenry

    Another article about refereeing.

    In case you hadn’t noticed there are plenty of other issues to cover at arsenal.

    How about :

    Is wenger going to sign?

    Surely this important

  • Alexanderhenry, might I refer you to “The 18 players already ear marked to be coming to Arsenal this summer.”

  • Nitram


    No problem. I’ve been there.


    “As a footnote, I do find it incredibly interesting how the English press is considerably more willing to criticise “those damned Europeans” though…….”

    How can you criticise today the same body you lorded as 98% accurate yesterday?

    Never forget, we have the best referees in the World !!

  • Alexanderhenry


    I don’t mind transfer rumours. It’s part of the fun of supporting a team.

    Anyway, do you think wenger will sign?

  • Leon

    ‘Never forget, we have the best referees in the World !!’
    Judging by standards witnessed in recent CL matches, there might be some truth in this.?

  • Nitram


    You may well have a point there.

    The funny thing is, by and large I think our refs perform pretty well in Europe. So they can do it.

    At least in comparison to there abysmal displays in the PL, which suggests to me even more, that they are refereeing to an agenda, be it deliberately or subliminally, in Premier League games.

  • Norman14


    Many of them, no doubt “trained” by the elite at PGMOL 🙂


    Not sure about Atkinson, but Oliver and Clattenberg certainly perform differently in Europe than they do in the PL.

  • Norman14


    Reporter to AW: “Have you told anybody what you are doing next season?”
    AW: “No”

    So, which part of that don’t you understand? It means that any discussion on the subject by others is pure speculation.

    This site, I believe, deals in facts!

  • Hunter13

    ‘I don’t mind transfer rumours. It’s part of the fun of supporting a team.’

    do you also buy hallo magazines to read about holywood celebrities ?

    so its fun having every arsehole who failed as a proper investigating journalist to troll you with fake gossip ?

    ‘god damn we could have got lewadofski for 3.7 million..the express says it…scrooge wenger..out!! spend some fucking money’

  • Norman14


    Maybe, just maybe when he get’s out of primary school, he’ll learn to be a bit less annoying 🙂

  • Hunter13

    ohh sorry didnt realise he was that young.. i should behave.


  • Alexanderhenry


    What exactly iş wrong with discussing possible transfers?

    I get excited when arsenal are linked with a big name player?

    Don’t you?

  • Leon


    Rumours & Gossip is just a bit of fun really. Agents hawking their players around mostly and nobody gets too out of joint over it, and occasionally one or two actually have a grain of truth in them.
    Xhaka, Holding & Mustafi were all rumoured for some time before we bought them, but on the whole we don’t end up with who they say we’re getting.
    Not that anyone’s that bothered.

  • Norman14

    Back in the real world.

    I gave up trying to get Damian Collins to give an answer to my enquiries, asking if the CMS committee were planning to investigate PGMOL. Instead, I sent some information to my own MP, whose office offered to write to Mr Collins on my behalf.

    Now, thanks to Theresa “I’m more important than anybody” May’s selfish decision to hold an election, Mr Collins has announced that there will be no further questions or investigation by his committee. Apparently, this is due to the imminent dissolution of parliament – so MP’s can go on their Used Car sales exercises.

    Once the new parliament covenes, I’ll be following up on my MP’s promise – assuming of course that she is re-elected.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Its not only in football that has very strange bedfellows .

    The Flight Report :

    The flight attendant sees a suspicious looking couple
    onboard, so she reports it to the Captain immediately.

    “Sir, I think we have a case of human trafficking! There is a very pretty, hot and attractive female passenger onboard, who looks quite frightened and the man she is with is a fat old slob who looks like a lecher, very sullen, mean and dangerous!”

    The Captain responds, “Patricia, I’ve told you before.. We have resigned from United Airlines and now This is Air Force One .

  • para

    Time for a selection of fans to carry score cards for the ref decisions and proudly hold them up after every ref decision eh?
    Speculation is a part of this life we have, get with it or without it, your choice.
    My last football game will probably be at the end of this season, at least where i make time to watch them

    Recently, i have been doing other things with the match on in a small corner of my 2nd monitor, not paying any sort of full interest, and at times even switching it off before game ends.

    Football is/has slowly come(ing) to an end as one of my pastimes/interests.

    I miss the skills players develop to stay on top, skills managers develop to lead their team on, lately there has been only the smell of manipulation and corruption, making football lose it’s real value.

  • Hunter13

    I get excited when arsenal are linked with a big name player?

    Don’t you?

    Ehhm no because 99% of times its just bollocks…i wait till i see transfers confirmed in soem press conference or the official site. Realised soem time ago that this guy is not gonna give the media shit. And rightly so. The clubs affairs are private matters and not for public consumption, or not ready to be shared until 100% confirmed. I dont see the purpose in spreading false rumours other than allowing these lazy journo-trolls to knick a living. Off course i understand why it happens but i dont have to follow the madness. Dont knowif youve noticed but none really knows and every troll copies another troll and links it to some other phantom article… its ridiculous…

  • Hunter13

    Football is/has slowly come(ing) to an end as one of my pastimes/interests.

    bingo !
    hey…dont you enjoy watching multibillion assembled teams playing catenacio for the result???

    its what the game was made for 😉