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June 2021

Our one hope: the media is suddenly realising there is something wrong with refereeing

By Tony Attwood

We first knew something was up when Alan Green, the BBC commentator, suddenly started laying off referees.  He’d never suggested there was anything wrong in terms of bias, but constantly reported that they were making mistakes.  Lots of mistakes.  Lots and lots of mistakes.  Lots and lots and… well you get the idea.  And he did it without the aid of replays, just through his live radio commentaries sitting in the stands, using 20th century technology.

And then one day he stopped.   Not stopped as in stopped commentating, but rather he stopped pointing out the vast number of referee errors that littered each match.

Fast forwards to 2010 when Untold, then just two years old, started commenting on referee errors.  We were of course attacked like mad, and told that we were making up excuses, but we began to gather enough data to raise a few eyebrows.

Skip forwards again to August 2014 when out of the blue the highly secretive PGMO which controls refereeing in the Premier League started issuing press releases of all things, which the Daily Telegraph began to publish.  No questioning of anything, no admission that anything might be wrong, but the endless insistence that the accuracy rate was over 98%.

By January 2015 PGMO were, as happens to most secret societies, getting carried away with their own propaganda, to the extent that we ran the headline “Telegraph publish another PGMO press release – and this one is even funnier than the last.

What made it so funny was that none of the mainstream media questioned any of the PGMO claims about accuracy.   There we were, using referees to analyse games, and finding accuracy levels so low that on occasion one would be better off using a robot that gave decisions out randomly rather than the ref on the pitch, and they were claiming 98% accuracy or more.  And the papers lapped it up.  English referees?  Best in the world!

Since then there has been a slight change.  Those press releases were so screamingly funny that after our prompting a few papers began to analyse referee errors, and castigated a few refs for the poverty of their display.  Later in 2015 the Independent was running Who are the best and worst Premier League referees for Arsenal … and by the end of last year the Telegraph, once the sworn friend and ally of PGMO was running headlines like “Every Premier League referee ranked & rated by Keith Hackett”   Soon after this the bloggettas were finding their own experts to shine a light on refereeing.

It spread quickly.  No leap into a suggestion that referees might have been bought, but rather a very important recognition that they ought to be part of the discussion.

PGMO tried to emerge from hiding, claiming it was at the centre of the move toward video refs (a laughable notion given that video refereeing has spread across Europe but is not to be seen in the PL – one wonders why), but as with all secret societies that suddenly come out into the spotlight, they had no idea how to handle the affair.

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The killer punch came last season with the 160 games analysed reports with video evidence all round and so, as we always hoped the media kept up their long slow plod along the road of liberation slowly throwing off the shackles of the PGMO agreement, which had for so long shut up Alan Green.

So now we have statements such as “Arsene Wenger was understandably frustrated when he addressed the media after seeing Arsenal lose 3-1, and the wider point he made about declining standards of refereeing was right,” in the Telegraph.  And…

“As things stand, we will not have a single referee at the World Cup next year and that is symptomatic of an ageing group of referees and a drop in the overall level.

“They have been getting too many important decisions wrong. There was the obvious mistake for the third goal at the Etihad that should have been ruled out for offside, but Wenger will also have been annoyed by a free-kick that Michael Oliver awarded prior to the penalty for the second goal.

“He gave a foul to Manchester City in front of the technical area when no offence had been committed. On the penalty that followed, Wenger described Raheem Sterling as a player who “dives well” and, while he does go down easily, I think he had been fouled….”

And so on.

So from being the pet poodles of the PGMO the Telegraph has gone on the assault.  What did PGMO do to annoy them?  Or did the Telegraph editorial department see the way we have been blowing the wind for ten years?

Later the article adds, “It is not that there is a shortage of referees but a road block. I would like to see more people who are doing well at the Select Group 2 level – like Andy Madley – being given a chance.”

Now this last point is important because one of our prime arguments relates to the number of referees and derives from the findings of the enquiries into the notorious Calciopoli Italian match fixing scandal of 2006, and the subsequent secondary scandals of 2012 and 2016.   One of the changes that crept across Europe was the notion of having enough referees so that no club got a referee more than twice in a season.  Thus is a ref was bent, his influence against or in favour of any particular club would be limited.

That has caught on, but absolutely not in England, where the same ref can be in charge of the same club over and over and over again.

It has taken a long time, but maybe the media is at last catching up.  If so the PL will be horrified to see the conditions of its licences which preclude finger pointing at refs being broken so readily. And now they are all looking over their shoulders at Europe, where something else is afoot.

But more on that later.

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29 comments to Our one hope: the media is suddenly realising there is something wrong with refereeing

  • The_Ledge

    I predicted yesterday that poor refereeing would be a factor in Slaven Bilic losing his job!

    I don’t know the statistics for points lost since he arrived at West Hame just over two years ago, but I have watched their games this season where “wrong” decisions have cost them points.

    Perhaps if his legal team can prove that, we might yet see our own Calciopoli!

    Dare we presume that like the Westminster scandals, once one complaint is made, others will follow with growing rapidity?

  • Wolfgang

    Yes Arsenal were outclassed and MC deserved to win.Before the game ,I say watch out for the ref.I was wrong. It was the blundering linesman who failed to raise the offside flag.
    If the goal was disallowed,anything could have happened.
    What action will the ref chief take with blundering linesman?

  • Menace

    It is not a sudden realisation, Tony. It is a gradual submission to honesty because of technology & high definition slow motion that shows the cheating. TV has covered so much and has faked news but in today’s live broadcasts they have to succumb to reality or lose advertising revenue.

    The highlight shows can edit truth & show lies as fact but even that gets outed with youtube. The likes of pontificating Shearer asking Wenger to apollogise for calling Sterling’s dive when it was so damned clear.

  • Menace

    Wolfgang – I watched the match and you acknowledging your opinion does not make it right. Arsenal were not outclassed at all. There were instances of quality on both sides but when the official with the whistle & cards is bent, what do you expect to happen. The card count should show you what a damned cheat Oliver is. Alexis was kicked almost twice every minute in the first half & I’m sure you saw many yellow cards shown. You kick the ball away, you get booked. You kick a player you get nothing!! What the hell is the official protecting the ball or the players? The game is corrupt in the extreme & pundits who have made a living kicking opponents & winning nothing on the International stage wonder why!

    Please don’t look at the assistant as a linesman. He is aiding the referee with cheating in the game. 3 years in succession is not a ‘blundering linesman’. It is a damnation of the PGMOL.

  • The_Ledge

    There needs to be an official investigation into PGMOL, and I don’t mean by the equally complicit FA!

  • Jax

    Somebody should point out to Shearer that Sterling has received yellow cards for diving which officially makes him a diver.
    ‘Arsene knows’

  • climatic

    Don’t think the media know who you are.

  • MickHazel

    I repeat….
    Thanks for that remarkably intelligent post which has contributed much needed wisdom into the debate.
    Which is the greater number, your age or your IQ?

  • MickHazel

    I am sorry Tony but the handful of articles from the hundreds written each year hardly constitutes a sea change in media coverage and attitude. Maybe a minute step in the right, but still no hint of sensible discussion on the question of bias or corruption within the refereeing fraternity, any such suggestion is still dismissed out of hand. You should have heard Jim White and Danny Murphy on Talk sport this morning if you want confirmation that the prevailing opinion toward referees vis a vis being corrupt or biased is about to change any time soon.

  • Josif

    @The Ledge

    You know that Slaven Bilić is actually a graduated lawyer? One of rare players who got his degree during playing career.

    I wouldn’t bet on that though. He’ll be happy to collect his severence money and that’s it.

    Omerta is a logorrheic behaviour comparing to the code of silence in English football.

  • Flares

    Worrying that the media are pushing an Invincibles angle so early in the season, even probing AW on the subject. Arsene in interview has stated he didn’t really start talking about going unbeaten until they’d won the title, with just four games remaining.

    We haven’t even passed one third of the season yet. Is this a Freudian slip from the media? If City go on and achieve this after journalists have been talking about it since matchday eleven,I’ll know for certain something’s up. that might be it for me in football terms.

    We’ll see.

  • Percy

    06/11/2017 at 1:30 pm
    Absolutely correct. Not as viscious at all, but similar to the tactic used to stop Reyes in Game 50 and Neville was commenting.

  • Percy

    Posted this in the previous thread but let me put it here as well. It winds me up that much.

    You would think, wouldn’t you, that on the subject of penalties there would be, broadly speaking, some similarity in the stats for teams with a similar approach to the game, playing in the same league with the same officials? Especially as everything evens itself out over a season, right? These are the numbers for the last seven years, to the beginning of this season, for us and City.
    Man. City For:55 Against:19
    Arsenal For:33 Against:39
    They’ve been given 66.0% more than us and we’ve suffered 105.0% more against.

    Not one of the other top four has a deficit as does The Arsenal. Their numbers are:
    Chelsea 45 20
    Liverpool 47 31
    Man. Utd 39 24
    Tottenham 37 26

    How come? Statistically what are the odds?

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    If for their been over aged and possibly for their show of incompetency in referring in the Premier League and also for being suspected of match referring frauds bothering on match fixing and corruption, none of the current PGMO match officials will appear at the next year’s Mundial in Russia, and also for a seasoned Premier League manager like Slaven Bilic made to lose his job because of the cumulative effects of wrong decision making taken against his team in referring by referees overtime this season in West Ham’s Premier League games, then something very serious is the matter with the PGMO that needs urgent attention and action for correction if the cheating being perpetrated by the PGMO referees and linesmen as been witnessed week in week out in the Premier League will abate. More so, the never seems to end of cheating Arsenal in their games in the Premier League for the past 13 consecutive seasons ever since Mike Riley has vowed never in his lifetime will he allow Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal team to win the Premier League Title again. But I think he is a liar because Arsenal are going to win the Premier League Title this season whether Mr Riley and his bunch of cheaters at the PGMO like it or not, it will not matter at the end. .

  • para

    06/11/2017 at 1:30 pm

    Agree, we were not that outclassed at all, and were just getting into the game again when Oliver struck, then his linesman struck and that was that.

  • Chinedu Nwosu

    I am of the view and shall strongly advocate that Arsenal Fans and as a matter of urgent necessity other Clubs who have suffered this severe corrupt compromise in the hands of these rotten brigands called Referees and the rapacious PGMOL be made to carry protest banners on Match Days with same seal and zest of the WENGER OUT BRIGADE in show of disenchantment against bias, favouritism and aggrandisement by football officials officials on Match Days. By this clear message will be sent to the Authorities.

  • climatic

    Stop repeating yourself Mr Hazel. Pop along to Boots where they will be able to help you.

  • Tony Attwood

    Up next, a review of the referee scandal that has hit the German League, and which is (strangely) not being covered by the English media.

  • climatic

    Fascinating ….

  • The_Ledge

    Sky’s own PGMOL “plant” today suggested that the Assistant Referee had a “momentary lapse of concentration”.

    I wonder if that would work for players after a lunging foul?

    No, thought not!

  • Keith Hackett agrees with Mr W with a few reservations : Telegraph

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sound familiar?

    In the middle of a fight, husband said, “Let’s not quarrel, let’s discuss the things sensibly.”

    “No,” said angry wife, “Every time we discuss sensibly, I lose!”

  • climatic

    Sounds sexist which is a change from racist. What do I know about being caught in a 70s time warp.

  • With what we saw on Sunday there is no way AFC will win the EPL this season or any other one for that matter if these same gang of officials are still presiding over their matches. You don’t need a crystal ball to discern that.

    Tony, your article does not convince me that there is a changing tide in how football officiating is being commented on by the English media. The Telegraph is just making those cooing noises to lull justifiably angry Arsenal supporters into accepting the rape on Sunday as being due to human errors. If not why stop short of calling for transparency in the Pig MOB’s style of,operations. Why did the paper not call for the introduction of VAR and then do this in a consistent manner?

    No sir a Leopard will not change its spots unless it is skinned of it.

  • Ajay

    The words of the commentator was ominous right at the start of the match,”Arsenal have never won with Michael Oliver officiating”. And throughout the match it became more clear why? And i speak not of the penalty but the final insult to injury whoch was the offside goal. And I beg to differ on the man city outclassed arsenal bit. We had our moments and they had theirs, only difference being that they had the officials behind them all the way to the final whistle.

  • jjgsol

    What I think extraordinary is, firstly that AW made his comment about Sterling in front of the cameras, but then they broadcast it and then it is repeated in all of the papers.

    That the legal boys did not stop it is an indication that the media not only agree with the sentiment, but also on the facts.

    The trouble is that whilst referees, as well as managers feel it is always acceptable to manufacture a penalty, it will continue.

    It is one thing to dance through the penalty area in the hope that a defender will trip you up and another to run in front of a defender and, as Clattenberg puts it “cleverly” slow down.

    As I have also mentioned before, it is clear that it is a dive when the attacker is already on his way down before contact, which we have seen so many times already.

    Would Aw take action against one of his payers who does that?

  • Wenger warrior

    It was a clear penalty! Spec savers have really good deals at the moment!

  • Wenger warrior

    Hazel is an idiot! Don’t take his comments seriously! No one else does

  • omgarsenal

    Wenger warrior….why should we take your comments seriously?