From bookies to journalists, everyone wants to treat football fans just like Trump treats his electorate

by Tony Attwood

We live in a world where there is a great drive to simplify anything and everything.   It happens everywhere from the President of the United States, who said today, “No politician in history has been treated more unfairly,” through to Untold Arsenal where, if we make a point about referee errors, we get comments from people telling us that this is all fantasy – without actually bothering to look at the evidence that we have provided.

Everything it seems must be simple.  Knowledge, logic, the gathering of proper evidence – that’s all nonsense because everyone can see it all and understand it all just by looking.  No one needs data, no one needs theory.

It’s all a very odd world, and the only good thing that comes out of it is that people who get suckered into this no-evidence, no-theory world tend to get screwed by it – something that annoys me and amuses me in equal measure.

Let me give an example.

A TV company runs the story that a particular player is being offered by club A to club B.  The piece doesn’t say that club B is actually interested although the implication of the story is that Club B certainly is interested.   The piece also doesn’t say that the transfer is really going to happen – it is all “according to reports”.

Then a gambling company offers quite good odds on Club B signing the player; you can bet on other clubs signing the player, but Club B is the favourite.  The story spins around Twitter and various bloggettas.   More and more people are talking about the possibility.

The odds shorten and eventually the bookmaker stops taking any more bets.   The player never goes to Club B.  In fact there was never any chance of him going to Club B.   The book maker makes money, the punters are screwed.

Of course there are regulations covering such things, and if the bookmaker set out to do this that would be (in the UK at least) illegal.  But I am told it might not be illegal in Gibraltar however, where a lot of famous gambling companies are based.  (I honestly don’t know if it is illegal in the colony or not – but I do know their regs are different and much from and much more relaxed than those within the UK.)

My point is that the whole process is based on reducing complex situations to simplicity, and in doing so it treats football fans with contempt.   “If Wenger goes Arsenal will do better” might be true.  But it might not.  Certainly before Mr Wenger came along the club was more used to long spells mid-table with occasional flirtations with relegation, rather than long spells in the top four, with occasional rises to the top and picking up the FA Cup.  But that broader picture is ignored.  Then as justification we are told that “Arsenal is the most expensive club for tickets,” which is completely untrue – unless you happen to want a box and a seven course meal.

In this world of simplicity “We want Wenger out” is raised from being a mindless chant to a philosophical treatise on the future of the club.

Let me try another example.  I saw this headline in one media outlet today:

Where would Arsenal be without Alexis Sanchez? Mid-table most likely, and certainly nowhere near securing a place in next season’s Champions League.

It is one of those questions followed by an answer that seems completely logical and reasonable if you take it in quickly.  But if you pause and look at it, then it makes no sense at all.  If Arsenal didn’t have Alexis we would have someone else as the prime tormentor and goalscorer.   We would play a different style, and a different formation.  Ozil would be deployed in a different manner.  We would have used the manner in a different way.

Let me try out another one on you.

Arsenal fans’ lazy attempt at an anti Tottenham chant last night shows the power shift…

This seems to suggest that just by listening to one chant from one group of supporters on one occasion we can make a judgement about the relative merits of Tottenham and Arsenal, particularly in relation to next season.  Spelled out it is utterly bonkers.   One chant by one group of supporters does not predict where a club will be after the next transfer window and with Tottenham playing at Wembley.  And I can say all that without trying to analyse what the “power shift” is that the writer mentions but never explains.

On the other hand I have made the prediction that Tottenham will struggle next season because of their ground move.  I’ve tried to explain this by looking at the evidence from the other clubs who in the last 20 years or so have moved, while trying also to find logical explanations as to why clubs that move invariably seem to go into decline.

So to me there is a difference between the notion of Tottenham’s and Arsenal’s performance next year based on one chant, and an analysis of the performances of a range of clubs who have done something akin to what Tottenham are doing this coming season.

Much of this illogicality and gross simplicity can be seen every day with transfer rumours.   The current round includes Arsenal offering Hector Bellerin to Barcelona in exchange for Arda Turan and Marc Cucurella.   Where this is mentioned it is considered exclusively on its own, and without any other issues such as whether we already have a replacement for Bellerin within the new 3-4-2-1 approach, and whether anyone else would be purchased at the same time – or why indeed the club would sell Bellerin anyway and whether Bellerin has changed his mind and now wants to bugger off at full speed as Fabregas did.  Everything is just kept in simple isolation from everything else.   And I can say that before pointing out that only three out of 110 transfer rumours last summer turned out to be true.

Here’s another.

“Arsenal’s actual attendance against Sunderland was around 45,000, making it one of the lowest Premier League turnouts since the club moved to the Emirates, and leading to renewed calls for habitual non-attenders to have their season tickets rescinded.”

Two questions here: how did the Telegraph know it was 45,000, and who made the “renewed calls”.   Was it two guys on their mobiles?   We never find out although the “report” (I use the word lightly)  does actually acknowledge that the figure of attendees is released sometimes to police for safety reasons – but since we don’t have any police within the stadium precincts that doesn’t happen very much.  So it looks like a guess – as witness the fact that they say much later, “The Telegraph understands that the match on Tuesday against Sunderland only attracted just above 45,000, with the timing and already-relegated opposition part of the explanation, although also the general apathy about the season and a boycott over the prospect of Arsene Wenger staying on.”

Now I thought the match was on Sky Sports 2 as well and surely that might make a difference.   I do roughly 200 miles round trip to go to a home game, and so occasionally I don’t make it for a midweek match – and I know that is true for many other people.  Work and family commitments mean on occasion it is just too hard to get there.  And when live TV comes in, that can affect my decision too.   In other words everything is simplified, relevant facts are removed, and we get a sort of Kids-Lite version of reality with all the difficult concepts taken away.

Here’s another…

“The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil could all be on their way out of the Emirates come September.   And Wenger will need to bring in some fresh midfielders to make up the numbers.”Yes they could, and if they did, then the manager would, but that is so bloody obvious what is the point?   I might as well say, “I might sneeze in a moment and then I will need to get a handkerchief out of my pocket.”  True.  And so what?

I really do object to being treated like a moron.

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30 Replies to “From bookies to journalists, everyone wants to treat football fans just like Trump treats his electorate”

  1. You keep going on and on about how nobody looks at the evidence you provide about referee errors, insisting that if they only did, they’d see the corruption that’s so obvious (first paragraph, again). The problem is, everyone just keeps reading them and telling you how awful the reviewers interpretation of the laws of the game are, which you laugh at and before making the same incorrect point again.

    Through the 28 match reviews you guys have done this season, you’ve claimed that Arsenal opponents got away with 42 red card offenses, or 1.5 per match. In the 369 Premier League matches played so far this season, referees have actually awarded just 40 total red cards, or one red card in every 9.23 matches. Using the actual red card numbers, each team should expect to see their opponent see a red once every 18.5 matches or so, so roughly 2 per season. At this rate, you’re on pace to claim that Arsenal opponents got away with 57 total sending off offenses this season (assuming the same per match rate), which will likely be about 39% more sending off offenses than are actually awarded in the entire Premier League.

    Can you honestly look at those numbers and tell me you believe that your ref reviews are using a semi-reasonable interpretation of the laws of the game? Yes, refs miss reds from time to time. I think the issue here is that Walter and Co. don’t know what a red card offense actually is, though. The numbers (evidence you always harp about), back it up.

  2. Scuba
    Put your money where your mouth is, have a look at some of the red cards that the reviews highlighted but were not actually given and tell Walter why his assessment is wrong in your opinion. To state an obvious one was the Alonso goal against us when Bellerin was taken out by a leading elbow misinterpreted by Walter?
    Conte has remarked a couple of times that the laws are interpreted a lot less severely in the UK than they are abroad and the Alonso goal wouldn’t have stood in Italy.

  3. I have, Mick, and I (along with lots of others) have commented in those posts individually.

    Yes, refs miss reds, as I noted above. There’s a clear Arsenal supporter bias in the ref reviews, though, which you’ll get from any Arsenal supporter doing them.

    And for the record, yes, I do believe Walter’s interpretation on the Alonso elbow was wrong. No goal, maybe a yellow, definitely not a red. And to point out an instance of pro-Arsenal bias in that very same match, when Gabriel elbowed Hazard in the head later on, Walter (or whomever did that one) only asked for a yellow, not a red. For my money, the Gabriel incident looked a lot closer to an intentional elbow than the Alonso one did, and no less dangerous. Neither were reds for me though, and probably not in 99% of the fixtures played this season, as backed up by the numbers I referenced.

  4. And point 2 from your comment, Mick, would be that how the laws are interpreted in other leagues have no bearing on this discussion, outside of an interesting side note. If refs are more lenient here than they are in other leagues, it’s only fair to expect that looser interpretation to apply to Arsenal matches. It’s ridiculous to apply the strictest possible interpretation in these reviews, when it’s clear (and again, the numbers back this up), that this sort of interpretation isn’t being used in any other Premier League matches.

  5. Where would Arsenal be without Alexis is a silly question. Where would football be with a rubber ball is just as silly. Every player requires a team to make him special.

    The key to everything is where will football be if it were officiated by non biased randomly selected officials. The answer to that is in a much better place than it is now.

  6. Lying is part of the society we live in, sadly even people who do not lie have started to do so because of survival.

    It is in the case of “diving” which is seen as a part of the game, “he invited the foul” except when it’s Arsenal of course.

    The others who at least try not to lie are few indeed.

    People think i’m strange when i say that it was at about 14 yrs old when it really hit me that people lie deliberately. My eyes were opened to grown ups and their practices, even though trying to teach us not to follow them.

    Now i’m one of them grown ups. 🙂

  7. From Brickfields Gunners Blog –


    Full story at 8 PM. Stay tuned .

  8. Some more fascinating strange but true observations –

    Did you know that , the human starts working the moment you are born and never stops until your wife asks you where you were last night !

    I’m sure the regulars will probably correct me by saying that most of **** who post on here may also not have a fully functioning brain too ! I cannot disagree too much actually!

    ( ***** – pronounced as ‘ass tricks ‘-
    a symbol (*) used to mark printed or written text, typically as a reference to an annotation or to stand for omitted { grey ?} matter. )

  9. So where is the “Arsenal bias” in the other 144 matches we reviewed Scuba?
    Maybe it is in the same place as when we had non-Arsenal supporting referees to do the reviews and the numbers then showed the bias was even bigger than when Arsenal supporting referees did the Arsenal matches?

  10. Let me also remind you that when I started to review referees a long time ago I also was one of the first people to demand the introduction of VAR.
    And I know that in the first PL match it will be used Arsenal will probably suffer from it. But I will take that as I know for sure that in the long run we will benefit a lot.

  11. Scuba
    If you think the Alonso/Bellerin elbow incident was not a red card then you will surely agree that both Xhaka red cards were wrong and should only have been yellow.

  12. Scuba, if an Italian coach, said that the way is lenient, then, surely, by the book count of, for example, red card offences will be higher than the actuals from PL referees. Over time, players would have learned this fact and become more careless about avoiding red card offences and the deviation from the norm would widen farther for teams suffering from referee bias.

    However, this is not saying that the cumulative data gathered by Untold is 100% error free. In my view, rather throw the entire data away in favour of embracing the notion that there is zero bias in PL refereeing, the challenge, really is to take a comprehensive and independent second look at the data. Something that those deny Untold’s conclusions are unwilling to do.

  13. Hanks

    Against my better judgement may I also point you in the direction of the Sun newspaper (in the loosest possible sense) this morning.

    Our beloved legend Tony Adams having yet another pop at Wenger.

    The bitter and twisted old drink driving alcoholic just cant help himself.

    But more to the point, the Sun are serialising his new book, so we can fully expect an Arsenal insult on the back page from now until the cup final.

    Honestly Hanks, was that a serious question?

  14. Hanks

    Sorry but I just had to add these because I cant actually believe you arsked that question.

    All the following is from another Arsenal ‘Legend’ that has the audacity to pretend he is an Arsenal ‘supporter’. He also has the f***ing liberty to sit and talk to Wenger as if he’s an old friend then stabs him in the back.

    Just google ‘Wright criticises Arsenal’ and pages of the s**t comes up.

    These are just a few headlines but there’s more, so much more:

    Arsenal legend Ian Wright criticises Arsene Wenger over defensive preparation

    Mark Brus for Wednesday 15 Feb 2017 8:02 am

    Olivier Giroud criticism led by Ian Wright after Arsenal lose in Champions League

    Telegraph 13 May 2017

    Ian Wright criticises Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after Arsenal star’s England display

    By Charlie Phillippe Sun, Mar 26, 2017

    Ian Wright claims Arsenal ‘dressing room is lost’ as pressure grows on Arsene Wenger with Crystal Palace loss

    Tom Doyle Evening Standard Monday 10 April 2017

    And so it goes on.


    Personally I wouldn’t piss on there statues.

  15. Exactly Mick if that is not a Red, no way foul by Xhaka is red.

    Guess Scuba is not responding to that as it defeats his agenda.

  16. Ian Wright claims Arsenal ‘dressing room is lost’ as pressure grows on Arsene Wenger with Crystal Palace loss

    Tom Doyle Evening Standard Monday 10 April 2017

    And since that from wonderfully enlightened Ian Wright:

    Middlesbrough A Won 2-1

    Man City N Won 2-1

    Leicester City H Won 1-0

    Spurs A Lost 0-2

    Man Utd H Won 2-0

    Southampton A Won 2-0

    Stoke City A Won 4-1

    Sunderland H Won 2-0

    Only 3 of those games at Home

    15 for, 5 against.

    8 Wins

    1 Lose

    And this today on

    on Alexis and Mesut’s recent form underlining their commitment to the club…

    Yes, of course. Maybe one day I will be able to speak about that, but I don’t question, at the moment, their focus and their determination because every game they turn up and give strong performances.

    on if it could prove tough to keep them if we don’t make the top four…

    No, because they are part of the results as well. Like I am. Overall, I think first of all they are under contract and secondly they behave like they want to be in the Champions League and like they want to be at the club. They don’t behave like players who are disinterested in the future of the club.

    Yep, the dressing rooms really lost there Ian.

    I doubt we’ll hear a dickey bird from him by way of a retraction, nor heaven forbid an apology.

    Nope, he’ll just wait for the next defeat to stick the knife in again.

  17. That’s great, Walter, but the sheer volume of card offenses you see in these reviews make it crystal clear that they’re not worth taking seriously as ‘evidence’. Your interpretations of the laws of the game aren’t anywhere near the interpretation actually being applied by the referees here, and not just in Arsenal matches, but in every Premier League match.

    The VAR is a great idea, but it’s not something that’s going to take the total number of red cards issued from in the low 40s to 750+ (which is about the number that your reviews would lead us to estimate). And frankly, if it did, it would be scrapped almost immediately because it would make the league unwatchable.

  18. Fluctuations.

    I will never hear or see this word again without thinking of this joke…

    I was at my bank today ( in New York ); and there was a short line. There was just one lady in front of me, an Asian lady who was trying to exchange yen for dollars.

    It was obvious she was a little irritated. She asked the teller, “Why it change? Yesterday, I get two hunat dolla fo yen. Today I only get hunat eighty? Why it change?”

    The teller shrugged his shoulders and said, “Fluctuations.”

    The Asian lady says, “Fluc you white people too”..

  19. Scuba..

    Your argument (about Walter & Team) having different interpretation of the laws to the referees, might hold some water if the referees decisions were CONSISTENT.

    Not only do some referees show inconsistency over a number of games, they also show it within a single game. More bizarrely, referees do not show consistency with each other.

    So if anybody is misinterpreting the rules, it’s the referees.

  20. Norman, the PL referees have issued 40 red cards against all PL players in 369 matches this season. Walter believes that through 28 Arsenal matches, they’ve missed 42 to Arsenal opponents, plus whatever they’ve missed for Arsenal and correctly awarded. Depending on what the reviews look like for the final 10 fixtures, that’s probably going to result in Walter and the review team seeing in the neighborhood of 80 supposed red card offenses in just 38 matches. That means that Walter and co. are seeing 1950% more red card offenses than we’re seeing awarded.

    Are PL officials missing red cards? Almost certainly so. But there’s clearly something wrong with these reviews, as well, because there’s no way that there have been in the neighborhood of 800 red card offenses in the PL this season.

  21. Scuba
    ‘there’s clearly something wrong with these reviews, as well, because there’s no way that there have been in the neighborhood of 800 red card offenses in the PL this season.’
    I can understand you saying that given you don’t even recognize the Alonso assault a red card!
    You’re standards are obviously a lot lower than Walters and your interpretation of the laws seriously flawed.

  22. Scuba – time to go underwater. Your losing your marbles breathing fresh air. The Laws of the Game are on the net for everyone to read & to understand (includes notes to referees). The PGMOL are the worst scum I have ever seen when it comes to bias & cheating. I only go to Arsenal games & the occasional International. Their organisation was formed after the Premier League & I believe they are corrupt & secretive. There is no place for this kind of shit in officiating sport.

    Arsenal probably play some of the best football in the world but get reduced to playing under cheating officials that destroy any rhythm. It is so easy to do & only takes a whistle every now & then to mess up play. If you cannot see this, then your observation of the game is naive.

  23. It’s always somebody else’s fault, Menace. Always. And FWIW, how messed up would play be with 800 red cards in a season?

  24. If the rules of the game were actually applied correctly, then players wouldn’t be committing so many red card worthy challenges. As it stands at the moment, they know they can get away with it.

  25. I am sure you can copy and paste the red card offenses from the Laws BUT I am absolutely certain that you haven’t the foggiest idea of how to apply said rules on the field of play, unlike Walter and myself and other active or former officials.

    IF you actually are a certified referee, then explain to us on UA how to apply LAW 12 in an actual game situation based on your profound knowledge and expertise as a referee.

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