By Tony Attwood
A major part of the argument that suggests that referees are not following the laws of the game but are following a different set of rules has come from Mark Clattenburg in relation to the notorious Chelsea v Tottenham game near the end of the 2015/16 season.
In an interview he has admitted that he could and indeed should have sent off a number of players but allowed them to stay on the pitch so that they would (in his own words) “self-destruct”.
However my understanding of the laws of the game is that referees have no such leniency – there are regulations about what sort of behaviour is punishable, and what sort of punishment should be meted out.
If the referees did have this level of discretion within the laws of the game then the referee could at any time decide (for example) not to punish deliberate hand ball in the penalty area with a penalty, for some “greater good” which he or she has in mind.
In fact referees do this sort of thing quite a lot – particularly with time wasting by goalkeepers – and it is something that is quite annoying since it clearly gives a benefit on the pitch to the offending team. And indeed this is the problem always with the argument of bending the rules.
Let us imagine that Clattenburg had allowed Tottenham to get away with their crude and violent play, as he did, but they then went on to win by enough goals to have given them the title and deprive Leicester. What would Clattenburg have done then? Started sending Tottenham players off retrospectively? I doubt it.
Clattenburg did in fact book nine Tottenham players in the match and it was notable that the PL did nothing in terms of a deduction of points – the sort of punishment that Arsenal suffered during the Graham era after a game with far fewer such incidents. Arsenal lost two points as a result.
Subsequently in the Chelsea Tottenham punch-up Mousa Dembélé received a six-match ban from the FA for gouging one of the eyes of Diego Costa. The referee did nothing about it on the night.
The problem with the referee adjusting the laws of the game to suit his own desires is that we are no longer watching football, but a game in which the teams are playing to different rules, adjusted by referees as they go along.
Untold has long argued that referees are changing the rules as they work, in order to influence matches, and it is good to hear one of them admit it. His claim that he did it to avoid getting any blame is not particularly believable since referees get blame for match fixing quite regularly in the Premier League, and it never seems to harm their careers under PGMO. Indeed we have shown referees getting under 50% of major decisions right, and still no one in the media or in PGMO blinks.
So I guess we can be glad that at last a referee has admitted that he didn’t referee the game according to the laws but according to a set of rules he had introduced himself. And it is interesting to note that one of the explanations as to what is going on in PL games is now confirmed.
We’ve often said that PL games could be refereed as they are, with the multiplicity of errors that our evidence, carefully gathered with video examples, (see for example 160 games analysed) reveals for any one of several reasons
a) The referees are incompetent
b) There is large scale match fixing going on
c) The referees are working to their own personal agendas
In this case we have an example of Type C referee action.
Of course it doesn’t mean that what was actually happening was Type III match fixing, which is a different kettle of fish all together.
But still, good of him to admit that something was going on. As far as I can tell, it is going on all the time.
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