10 years of Untold: trying to deal with the fake news of football

By Tony Attwood

Although when I started Untold I don’t think the phrase “Fake News” existed – fake news was certainly out there big time.  In fact I think there is an argument to say that football reporting in the media has been focused primarily on fake news all the time.

Transfer reporting is of course primarily fake news, but we’ve had much more than that.  Such as the”fact” that England doesn’t win full international competitions because we have too many foreigners in the English league.  That one was run and run in the media and copied in the bloggettas on the simple basis that if one can say it enough it becomes true (or at least everyone believes it).

Eventually the research revealed that the one factor linked to success or otherwise was the number of top qualified coaches per thousand registered players.  Up near the top of the list was Iceland (a few years before their arrival on the international stage) and of course the Netherlands.  That article was eventually reprinted (without acknowledgement and with a few twists and turns) in the Daily Telegraph and the story has been run in various formats ever since.  Maybe the message is getting through – we’ll see if the League uses Brexit to ban foreign players from the League.  Then we will have just British players, which according to the fake news writers, will make us the strongest team in the world.

Just as we were in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, before all the foreigners arrived.

But elsewhere the rise of fake news has taken us backwards.  Indeed football reporting is the one place you can read stuff more bonkers than the President of the United States saying “I think I am actually humble. I think I’m much more humble than you would understand.”  An incessant drip drip of false little stories, all of which add together to turn football upside down.

I thought of this when a correspondent wrote in and talked about Arsenal having the most expensive seats in the League (or maybe in the world, I forget which) and I pointed out that was not true, and he came back and talked about season ticket holders having special deals for league cup games.

It was an incredibly trivial point, but it was just made up as it went along, Or the person who wrote about Arsenal spending more money than Liverpool – again no evidence.  I suspect most readers know that Arsenal spent a lot less than Liverpool last summer but when you hear this sort of thing over and over it can be believed.

It goes on all the time – Arsenal have wasted more youth talent than anyone, Arsenal have fewer youth players come through than anyone else in the Premier League, this is Arsenal’s worst season, this is Arsenal’s worst run…

Speaking of which, do have a look at the PL2 league table, and indeed go onto Arsenal.com to have a look at the video of Arsenal 4 Man U 0.  Some lovely goals and great to see Le Jeff back in flowing form.

But back to fake news.  A lot of it is trivial but it builds up and builds up so that the trivial falsifications become the accepted truth.  Just think back to the success two men and Talk Sprout had with the “Arsenal have the most injuries” tale – people really did not only believe that to be true, they also believed this untruth was down to the training methods of the manager.

What is interesting is that during the period that this propaganda was put out we had to do our own research (thanks to one Untold supporter’s tireless work) and publish it week by week.  Those propagating the myth still came back with new figures to prove they were right – you might remember the set of data that included not only Arsenal players injured on loan as injured on Arsenal’s list, but also managed to have one player out for something like 70 weeks in a year.  It would have been hilarious if a) people were not believing it and b) we didn’t have to spend hours unravelling their story to set it right.

The fact is that these allegations have no evidence, or partial evidence.  It only takes five minutes to check what the worst start to an Arsenal season was, but no, the accusers are not going to do that… when they want to do the “this is Arsenal’s worst start” they just say it.

Of course it has been going on for a long time as Arsenal’s history reveals: a Tottenham fan who had written a number of Tottenham histories wrote an Arsenal history which set up the story about Arsenal bribing their way into the 1st Division in 1919.  Read all the information from the era (we’ve published it all on the Arsenal History Site including copies of contemporary articles in leading journals, which have previously never been re-published) and you’ll see it was all total invention.  There was no conspiracy, there was no bribery.

Then there was Leslie Knighton, a manager Sir Henry Norris appointed, who turned out to be no good, and who 20 odd years after he was sacked, and after Sir Henry had passed on, was paid to write a series of articles in a Sunday paper about Sir Henry, and invented a load of garbage which portrayed him as a monster.  Knighton won nothing and nearly got Arsenal relegated back to the second division but set himself up as the man who could have won the league if only Norris hadn’t stopped him spending money.  At the same time George Allison (who won the league twice and the FA Cup once with Arsenal) published his autobiography, which spoke very positively about Sir Henry, who he knew from 1910 to Sir Henry’s passing.   His work was ignored – the Knighton inventions are still reported as fact today, even though we’ve proven that tale after tale was untrue.

Let me give just one example.  Knighton wrote that he was so restricted in terms of transfers he was reduced to playing the brother in law of the club’s doctor.   It turns out that the brother in law of the doctor had in fact represented the League and won the Scottish League with Rangers.  He was so good Chapman got him back from retirement and persuaded him to continue playing for Arsenal.

So it goes, and from Untold’s point of view so it has gone.  I’ve had enough of a whole approach based on fake news, so from now on “facts” which look wrong to me or which I am certain are wrong, which are presented without evidence mean the post doesn’t appear.  I’ve had 10 years of patiently pointing out that the “fact” is not right, and all that has done is encourage some people to put forward more such facts that they have just made up.

Anyway, enough of that rant.  Don’t forget to watch the under 23s take Man U apart.

38 Replies to “10 years of Untold: trying to deal with the fake news of football”

  1. Just reading what Arsene said to Dean in the dressing room.
    “your a disgrace” “your not honest” “you have done this to us many times before”
    Worth a touchline ban to get that off his chest.

  2. @Knobby
    Dean done nothing wrong according to PIGMOB even though he admitted his mistake and I agree with you he must have enjoyed his rant knowing what was going to happen
    Dean’s reward was I think was the only game being played and being shown all around the world was the Spuds v WH

  3. Our reward could be he won’t take any of our games for a while.
    He must be coming up for retirement soon.
    VAR could speed it up.

  4. The FULL transcript is most enlightening. It shows that PGMOB believe themselves to be Police Officers, speaking in that way that only coppers do. It also whiffs just slightly of the officials getting their stries straight. Their collective use of the term “leaned aggressively” is quite suspicious. It would be most interesting to know how long after this, Dean wrote his report; if he had input from the other officials; if he discussed the incident with other officials. It all smacks of disgracefulness and dishonesty. As as Steve Vallins says, Dean later admitted that he was wrong (to award a penalty against Callum Chambers). So yes, he was a disgrace. Where else in the world do you get fined £40 grand for being honest?

    Here’s the FULL FA published transcript:

    In written reasons published by the Football Association, Dean’s match report states: “As we’ve entered the dressing room after the game Mr Wenger stood behind us in the doorway and told the West Brom steward to ‘let him in’.

    “He was very aggressive leaning towards me, pointing aggressively at me saying ‘you’re not honest’ on numerous occasions. I replied ‘so you’re calling me a cheat’.

    “He replied ‘I maintain what I say, you’re not honest’.

    “He then said ‘you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace’. He was then ushered out of the room by the West Brom safety officer.”

    Dean’s version of events was supported by the other match officials.

    Assistant referee Ian Hussin wrote: “Upon entering the referee’s dressing room, Mr Wenger followed ourselves and was standing in the doorway and said to the West Bromwich Albion stewards to ‘let me in’.

    “Mr Wenger was aggressively leaning towards Mr Dean pointing at him and saying ‘you’re not honest’ several times. Mr Dean replied saying ‘so you’re calling me a cheat?’

    “Mr Wenger replied ‘I maintain what I say, you’re not honest’. Mr Wenger further commented saying ‘you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace’.

    “Mr Wenger was then escorted away from the dressing room by the West Bromwich Albion Safety Officer”.

    Assistant referee Simon Long wrote: “At the conclusion of the match, we entered our dressing room, immediately followed by Mr Wenger, the manager of Arsenal. He stood in the dressing room doorway, preventing the West Bromwich Albion stewards from closing the door, whilst demanding ‘let me in’.

    “Mr Wenger took a step inside the dressing room and aggressively confronted the referee, Mr Dean, leaning towards him and continuously jabbing his finger towards his chest whilst repeatedly saying ‘you’re not honest’ in a raised voice.

    Mr Dean responded by stating ‘so you’re calling me a cheat?’, to which Mr Wenger responded ‘I maintain what I say’. Mr Wenger continued his aggressive tone and went on to say ‘you’ve done this to us many times before. You’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace’.

    Mr Wenger was then ushered out of the dressing room by the Safety Officer of West Bromwich Albion, who closed the door behind Mr Wenger”.

    Christopher Kavanagh, the fourth official, said: “As we entered the dressing room after the final whistle Mr Wenger appeared in the doorway telling the stewards to let him in. As he entered his body language was very aggressive.

    “He started pointing at the Referee and shouting ‘you are not honest’ continuously. Mr Dean replied ‘so you’re calling me a cheat?’ Mr Wenger replied ‘I maintain what I say, you are not honest’.

    “He continued ‘you are supposed to be a professional referee, you are a disgrace’. Mr Dean then asked Mr Wenger to leave the dressing room and was ushered out the door”.

    The FA is a JOKE!

  5. As a fan of conspiracy theories, a la The X-Files, this article has me thinking there’s a concerted effort to undermine or drum up so much negativity about Arsenal. I know every club has it fair share of ”fake news”, but Arsenal seems to have a bullseye etched in the club grounds. Transfers, Training Methods, Finances, you name it; Le Bloggerati have it in for us. Thanks to Untold, the truth is out there

  6. Anyone with half a brain will read that and see that the testimonies are conspiritory.

    The chances of every witness seeing, hearing, interpreting and recalling everything in an almost identical fashion is neigh on impossible.

    It’s unlikely that 3 people writing notes, whilst actually watching the events unfold in front of them, would recall events as similarly as those have, let alone recalling them at a later date.

    Simply laughable.

  7. The most unbelievable point is the communal suggestion that AW was ‘aggressive’.

    I think the only time the world has seen him being ‘aggressive; was when he could not pull the zip of his jacket up.

    I doubt if a jury would have believed it all.

    It is as though they all sat down together and decided what they should each write, but they did not have enough intelligence to make sure they did not same the same thing, word for word.


    “…..but they did not have enough intelligence to make sure they did not say the same thing, word for word.”


    You’d have to be a complete f***ing idiot to believe they came up with those interpretations of events independently?

    Could be why the media have swallowed it hook line and sinker.

  9. It really is quite good to see that Wenger knows full well what is going on. I remember reading some comments from him in 2007 where he stated quite firmly that he didn’t believe there was any corruption in the PL, so it’s clear that what he has seen in the past 10 years has completely changed that.

    How anyone can look at how the PIGMOB operates and think that there’s no room for underhanded practices is truly beyond me. Practically everything that they do just screams of corruption. I hope that no-one believes things will get any better once Riley finally fucks off, as it’s almost a certainty that he will be replaced by either Dean or Atkinson.

    Unfortunately, I can’t see any of the comments that Wenger makes changing anyone’s minds. We all know how the media love to brand him as a “winger” or somebody that always reflects the blame on to anything but himself, so comments like these will most probably just confirm that in the minds of the ignorant masses.

  10. thought it was published that he used abusive language. Dodgy dean even tried to goad him into calling him a cheat. only doing this because DEAN APPARENTLY owned up. think it demonstrated remarkable restraint on Mr Wengers part Ferguson would have called him a fucking cheat and nutted him and got away with it and Dean would ref Utd mo more.

  11. To be honest, most news is false for me anyway, this is why i don’t even watch/read/listen them except in rare circumstances.

    It looks like we all seem to need news, even if it is untrue most of the time.

    Hate the phrase “fake news”, another one of those phrases/mantras like “conspiracy theories” or “love will conquer all” etc etc.

  12. Some fake news does bring a simile to your face !

    The Pope and Trump are on stage in front of a huge crowd.

    The Pope leaned towards Mr. Trump and said, “Do you know that with one little wave of my hand I can make every person in this crowd go wild with joy? This joy will not be a momentary display, like that of your followers, but go deep into their hearts and for the rest of their lives whenever they speak of this day, they will rejoice!”

    Trump replied, “I seriously doubt that. With one little wave of your hand? Show me!”

    So the Pope slapped him.

  13. Finsbury

    Thanks for the link. It confirms what one of our regulars put up here a week or so ago.

    If I recall they did a similar correlation for goals scored versus pens awarded and goals conceded versus pens conceded.

    The correlation between each was pretty consistent across the board except for ? Yep, Arsenal.

    Back in 2015 Chelsea had a 2 month spell when they didn’t get the penalties they expected and Mourinho was all over the press whinging about it. Did he get the ridicule Wenger gets? Did he f***. In fact the media backed him up.

    Martin Samuels actually did his job and checked the stats, and sure enough for 2 months the stats confirmed that Chelsea where indeed being hard done by.

    So it took just a 2 month anomaly to get Samuels of his fat arse to support his pet manager.

    11 years of this s*** and we’re yet to hear a word from him, or anyone else.

    As a footnote what I will say is that this clearly shows that these dullards do look at these stats, and they do know what we are up against, but they just don’t give a toss because it’s Wenger/Arsenal.

  14. There is something more important here to consider.

    Wenger has taken on PGMOL and there is only one winner there. When he fell out with Anthony Taylor, where he pushed him, I said to my mate there is no way he’s ever going to give us the benefit of a doubt during a game. The same is true of Mike Dean. We all know as fans that whenever he referees us, any 50/50 wll go the way of the other team. Remeber, Dean was the match official when Wilshers had his ankle broken by a late Paddy McNair tackle, a tackle Dean didn’t even award a foul against.

    I dont know if its corruption but there is no doubt Arsenal do not get benefit of the doubt in contentious decisions. Look at the 4 pens at Stoke, FOUR and of course that Lacazette disallowed goal, a goal even VAR would have had difficulty giving offside.

    VAR may do what the FA are unwilling to do and address the way our match officials ‘are’ influencing match results. With VAR we may finally get a fairer rub of the green with referees who simply don’t like us or Wenger.

    With the media, well you just have to shake your head. There is an entire evening Talkshow dedicated to ridiculing Arsenal and Wenger, run by a bloke called Durham, where along with the aggressive anti-Arsenal bile is untruth after untruth. The other evening it was about how we have the money to compete against Man City, citing Leicester as proof of that. As for the history between 2005 to 2013, apparently only getting 2nd, 3rd or 4th was a disgrace and the stadium was an excuse. You just have to give up.

  15. “Wilshers had his ankle broken by a late Paddy McNair tackle, a tackle Dean didn’t even award a foul against.” – I agree with what you’re saying, but please don’t lie in order to push forward your points (as we already have plenty of actual evidence to do that). It was indeed a foul and McNair was given a yellow card.

  16. Ferg – Not too sure what you’re trying to get at, but when someone says a blatant lie in order to push forward an argument (regardless of whether I agree with it or not), I’m going to point it out.

  17. AFC Nemesis/Jammy
    You are both wrong.
    Wilshere suffered ankle ligament damage, not a broken ankle, and was out for over three months and McNair was not even yellow carded for the mistimed tackle that caused the injury.

  18. Jammy.

    You are wrong. Dean did not give a foul, so not sure how he could have given him a yellow card.

    Please apologise for calling me a liar, I do not lie mate.

  19. As I said in answer to the previous post, the statements of Dean and his co-officials look like blatant acts of collusion.

    Must beware of anyone who “leans aggressively” towards you!

  20. Thanks Mick, yes it was ligaments and not a broken ankle (although probably worse).

  21. AFC Nemesis

    “Dean did not give a foul, so not sure how he could have given him a yellow card.”

    That’s what I thought.

    Even if you had made an honest mistake, quite why Jammy felt the need to jump so enthusiastically to Deans defence I don’t know.

    Lets be honest, is it actually possible to exaggerate quite how big a cheat Dean really is?

  22. MickHazel and Jammy

    I’ve just been scouring the web to find it and that’s the only clip I could find as well.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t confirm if Dean blew for a foul or not. I’m sure he didn’t. One thing is for sure, he didn’t book McNair. The stats, including cards, are all on Arsenal.com

    As it seems Jammy is the ‘blatant liar’, I’m sure he will offer AFC Nemesis the apology he deserves.

  23. The only apology that should be coming is from the FA for not having reviewed the incident & kicked Dean in the gonads.

    Dean is a cheat a liar & corrupt like his mates in PGMOL.

  24. Para are you still here, is that para as in mood?!

    Don’t answer that!

    On collision and statements, 50% of most statements contain 50% fabrication as it isn’t only rare individuals who can or will recall a circumstance entirely factually.

    So although it doesn’t directly demonstrate the ‘fact’ they colluded it suggests it heavily.

    Which lends itself to further investigation of previous incidents and also the unrestrained consideration of circumstantial evidence and mitigating factors.

    I didn’t know it was Dean officiating when Jack was hatched-boyed! Or probably I knew but couldn’t recall this. Sense would have suggested a yellow to stop any subsequent action being taken. Oliver has unfortunately become incredibly efficient at using this tactic. Moss is another, Riley and Swarbrick, along with Atkinson and Rogers.

    Juju on all of them.

    Para! You still here?! Love conquers all! And a significant number of conspiracy theories are indeed fact.

    Returning to the issue of statements, true story, regarding my time as a prisoners of war, eventually wxhonotsted by my own, hampered efforts from confinement. A situation totally identifiable as an abuse of process.

    However what was telling was the dispatch record of attending officers, including firearms, John Charles Demenesez, apologies if I misspell your name, don’t curse me. But anyways, the transcribed dispatch record showed that several of the officers should not have been anywhere near the alleged incodent, or in fact the instance of criminal action being taken against myself and pripogatws by the Metropolitan Police Force (incidentally investigating Brexit), who are suoressing and ignoring evidence which catigorically outlines at least one case where a vote was discounted illegally during the last two elections and in the referendum.

    Anyways, the evidence provided to reduce the case against the now active exponent of political and social reform, acting patriotically and in support of a cohesive constitution for Europe which works, was actually taken from the case evidence unused by the prosecution.

    Albeit that the magistrates who were indeed corruptable suggested avoiding a trial process so as to conclude the decisioon internally (I opted to trust that I never lose) and didn’t take an appointed (corrupt) representative, except where I was forced to, and for good reason as they did an incredibly poor job.

    Sorry tangents, still within the wider context but… the difinitie defence rested on the fact that the officers produced what was almost verbatim copies of one another’s statements, yet couldn’t support those facts with testimony in court, having to read from the script so frequently as for it to be disquieting and had the consequences not been so weighty I wouldn’t have laughed. I did whoop when I was given the unused evidence less than a working day before trial, illegal.

    They actually contradicted each other, so as to suggest Wenger entered the room forcibly, but then again was admitted on request, by an opposition steward. Does anyone remember me suggesting that G4S and Serco, yes the arms manufacturers and prison staff providers as well as ground security staff providers, yes Cologne v Arsenal. The statement of opinions is protected as such, and representing ones own substative opinion of ‘fact’ being always allowable remains unpunishable.

    Now in hindsight, when you retrospectively look at this incident with the officials, you weight this against them in corroboration to substantiated, corroborated and proven facts. At which point you are not only able to confirm that they are xorrupt, but acting in collusion and are guilty of as much.

    So tonthe debate:

    Mr Nemesis does lie, because he says categorically that he doesn’t lie. If that is true, sorry mate young need to be bringing about the end, about now, and can you ensure she who rides the horned beast with three heads is clad liberally.

    2. He quantifies the suggestion of people fabricating things they cannot recall or do recall but sensationalise.

    3. It is precisely for this reason, those who are not prepared or aren’t ill equipped to make accurate statements should cease stating facts that are susceptible to ridicule and reduction. In this #MeTioo generation.

    Jammy it appears, although I am not privy to the footage, that you are also wrong and should have done likewise, being pendantic about ankle breakage or ligament damage doesnt exonerate you either.

    The key facts are, less than appropriate action being taken. Dean officiating, and the rules not being applied correctly and the mandate of all offiicials not being followed at the expense of Arsenal, Arsene and the player in question.

    What you have both achieved auccessfully is put the issue to the court.

    For that I am grateful.

    If evidence has been suppressed and no action was taken at any incident, those affexted have the right to effective remedy at any point.

    In regards to the case I used to illustrate some factors here. It was proven later that, not only could so have not been present, much like the man who was alleged to have pushed a woman before a bus on Putney Bridge. But the HMCTS, Meteopolitan Pokice and apppinted representatives along with the CPS, suppressed evidence, didn’t affect a prompt and proper investigation Andrew denied the opportunity for further evidence to be gathered, whilst breaching a number of ECHR articles.

    Again in this instance any action which is a directly s damaging consequence of this incident or others determined can, should and must be addressed.

    Sometimes losing a battle wins you a war, something Napolean and a number of other great tacticians forgot.

  25. In all my excitement I forgot to make a key point.

    In the example incident it later was presented that not only did the lead officer in case have means, motive and opportunity. He also perjured himself, colluded with colleagues, attempted to hand pick a prosecutor, supressed evidence, made maloscious falsifications, attempted to witness tamper and intimidate, doctored statements, twice, with the assistance of the transcriber, intwntionally hampered the investigation and made efforts to pervert the course of justice, and conspired to torture and prevent the free movement of an EU/UK citizen.

    Jammy when I go in on someone, Th Spittlefielsa emblem perfectly discerned my character.

    Brickfields you absolutely are legend.

    In other news Theo is of fear the books, we have got shot of two high earners, Per makes three. Debouchy will hopefully hen 4 and only Danny would potentially be better sold prior to the WC. Giroud only goes if Aubamayang comes and I have said time and time again. He is the natural successor to Henry.

    Para are you still here?!

  26. MarkyB loved it! Fergie has probably got that infamous boot framed, stole from evidence room!

    I actually miss our Nemesis, nobody else is worthy!

  27. AFC Nemisis & Jambug – I know for a fact that he got a yellow card for that tackle, as I watching the game and numerous people on here were (justifiably) angry that he didn’t get a red card for it. And I’m not jumping to Deans defence; he is a cheat and the PL is clearly corrupt.

    I just don’t think that with all the evidence we have of corruption that we should be lying in order to further our points, as it completely discredits everything else. If you two think that it’s perfectly fine to lie, as long as it furthers a point that you agree with, then that’s your prerogative, but please don’t make out that I’m some sort of PIGMOB sympathiser simply because I don’t agree with that.

    ” I’m sure he will offer AFC Nemesis the apology he deserves.” Sorry, I must have missed the part where you pointed out that he wasn’t booked for it.

  28. Following the debacle between Chavski and Norwich last night, it appears that PGMOB is way ahead of this VAR rubbish.

    Just have their officials ignore questionable issues, and the whole theory that Mike’s Secret Army is 100% bent, goes away.

  29. Jammy

    “Sorry, I must have missed the part where you pointed out that he wasn’t booked for it”.

    Perhaps you should read the posts again, we both said, as far as we remembered, he wasn’t booked.

    AFC Nemesis said the following at 2.29

    “You are wrong. Dean did not give a foul, so not sure how he could have given him a yellow card”.

    I said the following in response at 3.12:

    “That’s what I thought”.

    and this at 3.54:

    “Unfortunately it (a video clip of the incident) doesn’t confirm if Dean blew for a foul or not. I’m sure he didn’t. One thing is for sure, he didn’t book McNair. The stats, including cards, are all on Arsenal.com”

    So not only did we both say we believed Nair wasn’t booked, (or possibly even a foul called), I provided evidence to support what we believed.

    I suggest if you are so sure he WAS booked you find some supporting evidence of your own.

    I look forward to seeing YOUR evidence and if I do I shall duly apologise.

  30. Jammy

    By the way, you are still calling us liars for some reason.

    We are only saying it as we remember it. Even if we are wrong that does not make us liars does it? It would just be a genuine mistake.

    I believe you are being truthful in so much as you are just saying what you remember. I think you are wrong, but I am not calling you a liar.

    Why on earth would we need to lie? Dean is a cheat, plain and simple, and there is plenty of evidence out there without having to make stuff up.

    Anyway, find that proof or admit you are mistaken.

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