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June 2021

How do we know if match fixing is taking place or not?

By Tony Attwood

The little piece yesterday afternoon giving the reasons why it is logical to expect there to be corruption in Premier League football, brought a larger than normal amount of vitriol and a larger than normal number of commentaries that had little if anything to do with the post, or contained no evidence and so were, in keeping with our general policy, not published.

I did in passing answer one in the hope that it might reveal once more then need for evidence in such commentaries, but it didn’t stop the bombardment.

So I thought I’d try and go a step further and take another such commentary and answer it.  I know it won’t stop people writing in but it makes me feel as if I have done my best.

For what it is worth, in the game this past weekend I thought there were quite a few positives to be gained, just as I have seen in other matches this season.  But I don’t think Arsenal can win the league, primarily because I don’t think the league is there to be won by a club like Arsenal.   Manchester City spent £212m last summer according to Transfer Market on top of £169m the previous season, £152m the season before, and so on back in history under its current owners.

Even though I retain my view that many transfers do not work in their first season, the argument has always been that in the end about 75% of big money transfers do bring a benefit to the club, and so when a club can keep buying at this level, it is in the end bound to buy success.  And there is no way Arsenal are going to be able to spend that, at least not with the owner we have got.

Of course Leicester did win the league, and such unusual events of a club not normally associated with the trophy then winning it, has happened before.  Wigan beat Man City in the FA Cup, Manchester City won the league for the first time as total outsiders (and got relegated the following season), and so on.  Wimbledon beat Liverpool in the FA Cup final. It happens, but you can’t build a process around such events because they are so unpredictable.

But if Arsenal were to be like Man City, financed by a state, and behaving in ways that lead to being banned from signing youngsters to the Academy, being hauled up in front of the Court of Arbitration in Sport, have its squad reduced by Uefa because of flagrant breaches of the FFP rules (when we had them),  then my lifetime’s support of Arsenal would be very sorely challenged.

But if I may, let me offer my thoughts on just one commentary that came in which I didn’t publish.  I’ll take just a few lines…

When will they be an article which highlights the actual problems in Arsenal Football Club?

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There have been a few.  I think the problem is with the owner and I’ve said so.  The history of Arsenal is the history of the club owned by many – a proud tradition that goes way back to the 19th century.  When the club went bust, Henry Norris stepped in and rescued it as George Leavey had done before, but both encouraged supporters to buy shares in the club so their ownership was diluted.  The move away from that model after Sir Henry was forced to resign because of the legal case between Arsenal and Fulham, was I think a negative move, which has led us to where we are today.  Man U did it brilliantly by exploiting world wide marketing from the 1960s onwards, but elsewhere it has been the owners’ money or money gained through corrupt practices that has financed clubs.

Blaming the Refs for every single defeat suffered by Arsenal is shameful.

I am not sure it would be shameful, but it would be a bit silly, and I don’t think we’ve ever done that.

[A defeat] has to be put on the feet of the coach and the players. Clubs get bad calls and still manage to win matches. We should too.

That is true some of the time, and indeed we do.  Arsenal do win more matches than they lose – last season we won 23 and lost nine.  But occasionally a defeat is not just through poor play, in my view, and our referee analyses shows why.

We’ve benefited from incorrect Decisions this season, most recently Westbrom at nil nil when they should have been giving a pen. I seriously doubt we would have won the match if we had gone behind. This corruption talk is baseless at most.

And this really sums it up.  There is no analysis, no evidence just a personal view.  And of course I give personal views too, but sometimes I back it up with facts and figures, like the reviews of the first 160 matches in the Premier League last season.

Which really is the essence of it all.  It is a bit like saying “the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, I see it every day and to suggest that the earth goes round the sun when it is utterly obvious the sun goes round the earth is baseless.”

Referees make mistakes.  Our analysis suggests some refs make very many mistakes.  Sometimes they balance out between the teams, but our analysis suggests often that is not the case.

We’ve won 3 Fa cups in 4 years, yet the refs hate us, considering the fact that the last one we won was very controversial with some dodgy decisions.

The essence of the whole approach is in a set of figures above – last season we won 23 and lost nine.  Somehow this, and the winning of the FA cup is transmuted into saying that because we won the FA Cup three times match fixing does not exist.

If Type III match fixing exists, as I feel the evidence shows, then it only happens in some matches.  I doubt very much that even if Man City or Chelsea were involved in it, they would have bothered to fix their cup finals with Arsenal, because their interest was in the league, and the fact that no one gave Arsenal a chance in those games.  That’s a guess of course, but it seems a reasonable one to me.

Type III match fixing is something that has happened in other countries and been investigated and exposed, and part of its perfidious nature in Italy was that it was not continuous.   To retain their credibility the referees caught up in the system in Italy did not fix every match, but helped just enough to allow certain clubs to win certain matches.  It was also the case that several teams were involved in the match fixing which made it even more difficult to spot.  Likewise if a team went 3-0 up in 20 minutes the ref would do nothing to help the other side, because the game was over.

Of course I am not convincing many people with the evidence, because people who believe that opinion is the equal to evidence don’t get convinced.  That’s how the notion of witchcraft flourished.  And why match fixing survived in Italy for so long.  The more people say, match fixing is not possible and ignore the evidence, the more it is encouraged.

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29 comments to How do we know if match fixing is taking place or not?

  • bandoha

    I totally agree . This is the only arsenal website that provides sensible balanced articles.

  • bandoha

    It’s obvious there’s an institutional bias against Arsenal, one only needs to watch the infamous match against Man utd to end the unbeaten to realise that. the media won’t dare expose it because it would undermine the credibility of “the best league in the world” and ultimately harm income generation which is all they are really interested in.

  • Josif


    A small correction:

    Wigan won the FA Cup on Sunday and were relegated next week thanks to Santi Cazorla inspired Arsenal (4:1). We leap-frogged Spuds for the 4th place and Wigan were mathematically relegated.

  • Tony who wrote that piece of crap that we benefited from Westbrom!! Did he really watch that match or he was dreaming about it? How many penalties could we have won? Imagine they called Sanchez a cheat, wonder if we had got such a penalty what the whorelists would be saying right now. Give us a break. No wonder no one is talking to much about us losing otherwise it would be a crisis their lovely word.

  • Stephan


    I gave all those statements which was addressed in this article, and stand by them.
    Do you think if Westbrook had gone ahead we would still have played well enough to create the chances we did? The penalty claims we had?
    A football match is very dynamic, one call changes everything.
    So we benefited that day, whether you are blind to it or not.
    Let’s focus on how to make our team better, I refuse to accept we are the most hated team in Sngkand. No way. We aren’t good enough and we should accept it.

  • Jammy

    The main counter-argument that these people always use is “oh, you just blame the ref for every defeat!” but this is complete nonsense, of course, and if they’d actually been reading this site properly, they’d know that that wasn’t the case. When Arsenal play poorly and deserve to lose, the regulars on here will always admit to this. Even if we win, but the referee tried his best to stop that, even then his poor performance is pointed out. It’s got nothing to do with being a sore-loser.

    The Watford game was slightly different, as we didn’t play great either, but the fact is, literally the only two goals that Watford managed to score were illegal. There is no disputing this. If you took away their two illegal goals, then we would have won; it’s as simple as that.

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    We aren’t good enough to win the league, that much is probably true. The one certain thing is that when we are not at our best we certainly are robbed of points by various referees. Swarbrick has overseen four wrong goals against us in two games – there aren’t many teams that can cope with a two goal handicap.

    It is my belief based on the way referees approach cup and league games that they are far more ‘honest’ in the cup rather than the league which goes a long way to explaining our better results.

    We need to be able to outspend our competitor clubs by something like £100m each year for five years in order to get the players to significantly make the difference. That isn’t going to happen with the present club owners (both Kranke and Usamov) neither of whom are prepared to spend their own money. They have both reputedly offered to buy the shares of the other at a price that values the club in the order of £2bn but neither is willing to sell at that price. Until someone else comes in with a bid north of £3bn I can’t see any change happening. On top of that initial investment there will need to be a further £1.5bn or so of new players in order to prise the best from our competitors, none of whom need the money. Again I can’t see it happening.

    Realistically the battle forfourth place in the league (with Spurs, Liverpool and others)and good cup runs is where we are at the moment. As soon as we threaten to go higher than that the paymasters of the PGMO will step in as they did this weekend and ensure we return to our place. The media will then cover it up with the normal bullshit about us lacking fight, leadership etc.

    It’s all as predictable as American Wrestling, as soon as the ‘good wrestler starts to be on top the referee looks the other way whilst a theatrical low blow flattens him. Happens every week

  • josh

    lol. nice piece anyway.

  • Stephan


    I feel it’s a little bit convenient for you to say the cup competitions we’ve won are because the Refs in which you’ve lambasted here countlessly all of a sudden became Honest. We both know it doesn’t make any sense.
    This same refs helped us in the semis and finals for the same incompetency they show in the league, but fans here said ‘finally we have a call go out way’.
    We should accept the fact that clubs get bad calls, all clubs.
    This weekend alone we saw Everton get bad calls, does it mean the refs wanna get rid of Koeman quickly?
    Common guys, our team is deficient in a lot of places, our best player wants our. We should say it has it is and provide solutions
    Not slander and external source all the time.

  • Nitram

    Didn’t something similar to this happen to Belarin before, at Southampton I think it was.

    If I recall we lost an advantage for a small push by Giroud I think it was in the first half then Belarin was flattened even more blatantly prior to them scoring and the ref gave nothing.

    Talking of Belarin perhaps he should be asked what he thinks about the 2 Yellows Carol received because I thought challenges such as those that saw Carol receive 2 yellow cards were perfectly legal ?

    I mean Belerin was rendered unconscious by a much worse example and it didn’t even warrant a free kick if I recall.

    Out muscled I believe they said.

    Just a couple more examples of one rule for one….

  • Steve Vallins

    How can we ever have consistency when we have Mr Hackett , Mr Poll , Walter and various other officials who thought the penalty Watford were given on Saturday evening was a dive and should never been given yet the FA’s simulation panel thought it was perfectly acceptable
    Arsenal are fighting a battle they can’t and won’t be allowed to win when it comes to certain aspects of the game of football . The FA and PIGMOL can’t be undermined

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    There was absolutely zero chance of the simulation panel EVER giving a decision for a player against Arsenal. Come on you know the rules – sub clause 8b. “Unless an Arsenal player is involved”.

    As I said it is like American Wrestling, the only difference is that in that arena the whole of the audience is in on the subterfuge. In the PL there are still a few that believe it is entirely honest and above Board.

  • Stephen clearly you take a different view from us. Ours is based on the evidence (for example the 160 games analyses and so many more reviews, plus the reviews by non-Arsenal fans on the Referees Decisions sites) yours is based on your opinion and a vision of the world that I often find hard to follow.

    In the “same refs” notion, for example, what we see is exactly what our model predicts. That a referee who is engaged in Type III match fixing will, in order to appear to be less biased than he is, only fix games against specific teams some of the time. That some of the time includes not doing anything when one team storms into a lead, and no doing anything in specific matches. To do otherwise makes it so obvious that match fixing is going on, even in England where there is a widespread belief that match fixing can happen in funny foreign places but not here. So the refs. to keep their jobs and keep their bribes, only fix certain games. Certainly not every Arsenal game. That is how it went in Italy, and how I suspect it is going here.

    I have not argued that in the FA Cup the referees have suddenly become honest – I can’t really see how you could think I had said that.
    What you are trying to do, in my opinion, is reduce a very complex situation to simplicity.

    While my colleagues and I are suggesting the need to look over a huge range of games (the 160 is one example) you are saying, that Everton got some bad calls over the weekend – ie over one game – and that you can make a judgement on that.

    I suspect (but am not a mind reader so can’t be sure) you know perfectly well that we are always talking about long term trends, and simply adding evidence to the long term trend, and you are just throwing in comments such as that about Everton, to wind everyone up.
    Whether I am right in that or not, we’ve let you have your say, you choose not to use reasonable statistics at any stage, and your logic seems to me to be inverted.

    Fortunately for you there are thousands of blogs that support your point of view, although perhaps not many get the size of audience Untold gets, so you may wish to spend time there. But please, no more here. We’ve seen your view, we have published 74 comments from you, you’ve brought no new evidence to the table in all that time, so I think that is enough.

  • Goonermikey

    The idea that refs are “more honest” in the FA Cup perhaps deserves a little more thought as it is obviously open to criticism.

    What it might suggest is that there is no pressure on refs to anything other than even handed in the FA Cup. This could then mean that refs may take different approaches for different competitions. The question of course, would be, why? Are they under pressure to ref “differently” in the Prem perhaps? Who knows for certain? The supplmentary question then becomes, why don’t the PIGMOB do anything to defend the criticism that can be leveled at them if they have nothing to hide?

  • Percy

    I remember that a while ago there was an article on penalties in the PL, for and against, that brought up some considerable differences. I took a look here to check out the up-to-date numbers for the top six clubs given the week end issues, these articles and looked at the last seven years to get a good sample. Now, they’re not going to be the same of course, but would you expect a similarity over a seven season period – it all evens out, doesn’t it? Taking into account footballing styles would you expect The Arsenal to have the fewest awarded to and the most awarded against? Would you expect City to have got 61.0% more and conceded 51.0% less? Would you expect just one club to have a deficit?

    For Against
    Man. City 55 19
    Chelsea 45 20
    Liverpool 47 31
    Man. Utd 39 24
    Tottenham 37 26
    Arsenal 33 39

  • Percy

    The web site has been removed and the formatting not right but I think you will get the gist.

  • The_Ledge

    It’s not JUST us though. Southampton got a “non-penalty” against Toon on Sunday, and that one wasn’t looked at for diving either.

    I don’t mind if they’re wrong sometimes (assuming PGMOL officials are actually human and liable to make mistakes), but I DO expect them to be consistent.

    So, if the Watford “fall” is a penalty, so is the Welbeck one!

  • Menace

    The diplomats keep using mistake. I keep using corrupt. I am not diplomatic as I think most diplomats get showered in the smelly stuff sometime in their lives (while I am used to it for telling it as it is).

    The PGMOL & FA are corrupt and unanswerable to anyone. They are God judging the living and the dead in this life. They are blatant in their corruption because of this. The rules around the game besides the Laws within which the Game is played are totally abused by them. I challenge them to sue me in court & I will defend myself with evidence that the court would be asked to provide (despite all & sundry evading disclosure).

    I am a passionate Arsenal supporter & will give up my freedom to prove that Arsenal have been cheated of years of success by corrupt FA governance. A bunch of indecent greedy old men ruling a sport that is robbing generations of excellence by false accounting.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Menace – 17/10/2017 at 6:00 am – I have to agree with you, except them morons are no diplomats ! They are on here to pile it up , claiming that its good for us .

    Why would anyone come on here to sing the praises of the crooked English journos , stupid ex-players/ex-prats , PIGMOB , the Premier League hierarchy and the boys at the sweet FA ? And all the tome bending over backwards to defend their alleged honour and integrity to the hilt ?

    Sometimes I do wonder weather the repeat their performance at their workplace, and if they disengage their faces when when their bosses go to the toilet ?

    Am sure we’d all agree on that answer !

  • josh

    so anyone who has a different opinion is a moron as some say, is that what this blog is all about Mr Attwood?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    As a medical doctor of over 33years in practice(still not quite yet perfect!), I believe that from my deductions and experience I’m able to spot a moron when I come across one. As well as spotting idiots , imbeciles and a whole lot others.

    And as it is a given here that I too am entitled to my OWN opinion . I am not looking for a herd to follow me. I too state as I see it .

    Call me what you like , to your hearts content.

    I am an Arsenal supported for life , and the club and the present manager have my undivided loyalty.
    WOO HOO, HOO !
    Up the Gunners !

  • tobi

    “Fortunately for you there are thousands of blogs that support your point of view, although perhaps not many get the size of audience Untold gets”, not trying to come out rude but I think that’s not true, I think and know there are lots of bigger(in terms of comments and visits) arsenal blogs. What I do know is that UA is one of the best as it is unique and supports the manager and the team unconditionally. Nice article by the way.

  • josh

    I guess I won’t get a reply Mr Attwood. cheers anyway

  • Menace

    josh – you’re like a little school kid going ‘please sir Menace & Brickfields are calling me names!’ We are not calling you anything – just telling you that Untold supports open views from true Arsenal loving supporters.

  • Josh, in reply to this and your previous comment “so anyone who has a different opinion is a moron as some say, is that what this blog is all about Mr Attwood?” I regret that you don’t really seem to understand what this blog, or indeed any blog which reaches a big audience, is about.

    I run Untold, but also have a job, and so am not monitoring the comments all the day, just for when someone happens to ask me a question. I do try and answer questions, but sometimes a little patience is required by the sender. To expect a reply from me within 45 minutes of you choosing to pose your question, really is unrealistic. Talk to anyone who runs a blog with over 5 million page views a year, and see what they say.

    But in relation to your question “so anyone who has a different opinion is a moron as some say, is that what this blog is all about Mr Attwood?” the answer is self-evidently no. Self-evidently because I consistently argue for the use of logic, reason and evidence, and against the use of common sense arguments. And to give my reason for this for what feels like the ten thousandth time, common sense tells us the sun moves around the earth. To understand what really goes on we need logic, reason and evidence. Anyone who provides that will always get a hearing, although of course if they persistently suggest that one incident or one match is suitable evidence, I, and others will point out that scientific evidence normally requires more than one example.

    That’s the prime difference between this site and many others. Logic, reason and evidence. I know people who follow such guidelines are in the minority, but we carry on with the message in the face of contrary commentaries.

  • josh

    Thanks for your reply Mr Attwood and I must say I really do enjoy reading your site.

    @menace. nothing like that, I just feel “moron” is a little bit rude to be used freely on a website. On me being like a little kid, hey, you are talking to a proud granddad of two lovely sweet peas who would give you hell for that statement. lol

  • omgarsenal

    I must admit that I have a different opinion about Swarbrick’s performance last weekend. He quite rightly ignored Welbeck’s tumble in the Watford penalty area and I am sure he honestly felt Bellerin brought Richarlison down. I feel it was a very harsh call but not one intended to be anything but honest.
    Watching the game analysis, it became clear that Arsenal completely abandoned their tight marking and hard work of the first half for a rather passive and laissez-faire approach in the second half. They had multiple chances to put the game away, particularly Ozil and Iwobi but they didn’t have their shooting boots on and Gomes was very alert.
    I for one do not solely blame the referee, Arsenal sucked in the second half and we paid the price!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A husband and wife love to golf together, but neither of them are playing like they want to, so they decide to take private lessons.

    The husband has his lesson first. After the pro sees his swing, he says, “No, no, no, you’re gripping the club way too hard!”

    “Well, what should I do?”, asks the man.

    “Hold the club gently,” the pro replied, “just like you’d hold your wife’s breasts.”

    Taking the advice, he takes a swing, and POW! He hits the ball 250 yards straight up the fairway.

    The ecstatic man goes back to his wife with the good news, and the wife can’t wait for her lesson.

    The next day the wife goes for her lesson. The pro watches her swing and says, “No, no, no, you’re gripping the club way too hard.”

    “What can I do?” asks the wife.

    “Hold the club gently, just like you’d hold your husband’s ‘thing’.”

    The wife listens carefully to the pro’s advice, takes a swing, and THUMP — the ball skips down the fairway about 15 feet.

    “You know, that was a lot better than I expected,” the pro says. “Now, take the club out of your mouth and hold it in your hands….”