Manchester City miss equalling Arsenal, and the things money can’t buy.

Keith Hackett has written an article in the Telegraph, in which he says “If you want proof of why no English referee will be represented at this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia, look no further than Martin Atkinson’s performance at the Etihad on Saturday.”

It is a fairly bizarre and convoluted sentence in that having one referee perform badly doesn’t actually prove anything at all.  Apart from that we don’t need proof of the fact that no PGMO employees will be going to Russia, because it is self evident from the Fifa list that they are not going.

What he actually meant (and his lack of any form of logical and consistent argument in this article really is worrying for a man who is now a professional journalist, and was previously a professional referee) is that the quality of refereeing in that match helps us understand why Fifa really don’t want anything to do with PGMO employees at the moment.  I just wish he had said that directly.

His argument is,

“Ashley Young should already have conceded a penalty in the first half for a handball, but his challenge on Sergio Aguero in the second half was not only a nailed-on penalty, but also a definite red card for the United player. It was a shocker – reckless, out of control and a foul that endangered the opposing player.

“You could not get a clearer case for a sending-off and I simply do not understand how Martin did not see it as such. He also seemed to be cutting his assistant, Stephen Child, out of the decision-making process; given the positioning of Child, he should have made a point of consulting him.”

So having considered what he meant to say, we now have to offer the explanation for the bits that Hackett openly admits he doesn’t understand.  Let’s help him out…

The referee failed to give the right decisions there because of one of these three possibilities

a) He was having a bad day, possibly suffering a migraine or other debilitating illness, and instead of reporting himself as unfit to referee, carried on.  This is clearly quite a serious offence for referees, as it is for people handling potentially dangerous machinery.  They do have a duty to hand themselves in if they feel anything is wrong.  If that was the case, the referee is utterly to blame and should be suspended.

b) The referee is generally incompetent.   Without VAR referees are reported by PGMO to get 98% of decisions right, and I suspect in this case, that failed to happen. Again, he is utterly to blame and should be suspended for failing to maintain the high standards of PGMO – to wit, 98% accuracy.

c) The referee had been bought either by one of the clubs, or by a third party who wanted to influence the game (for example another club engaged in Type III match fixing, or a gambling organisation).  In which case once more he is to blame and should be suspended.

But the PGMO do nothing.

Which raises the question of why they do nothing.  If we had an independent arbiter of refereeing beyond the company that employs referees judging itself and supported by the fawning national media) they would be able to investigate this affair, (and they could also have a look at the refereeing in the Arsenal match too).  But the fact that unlike most other countries there is no body overseeing the company that employs the referees means PGMO are (literally) a law unto themselves.  It is a perfect recipe for corruption to flourish.

That of course does not mean that PGMO is corrupt.  Not at all.  It just opens the door for corruption and encourages people to be suspicious when things go wrong.

Of course it was a bad day for Manchester City, who have now failed to reach either of the achievements that Arsenal have reached in the past.   First they failed in their attempt to equal Arsene Wenger’s record of an unbeaten season in the League.  Now they have failed to equal George Graham’s record of just losing one match all season in the league.  Not the best of times.

And of course they have to play Liverpool again this week, which means taking special action against any passing Liverpool fans who might want to throw things at coaches – something that a few of them seemingly like to do on occasion.  It is a pesky business this one of not having a secure environment for bringing in players to a ground.  But I am sure they will get it sorted – maybe PGMO could set up a security company on the side.

Anyway, since not too many people are mentioning I thought I would also throw in the issues of wins in a row:

Date Match Res Score Competition
08 Mar 2018 AC Milan v Arsenal W 0-2 Europa League
11 Mar 2018 Arsenal v Watford W 3-0 Premier League
15 Mar 2018 Arsenal v AC Milan W 3-1 Europa League
01 Apr 2018 Arsenal v Stoke City W 3-0 Premier League
05 Apr 2018 Arsenal v CSKA Moscow W 4-1 Europa League
08 Apr 2018 Arsenal v Southampton W 3-2 Premier League

18 goals scored four goals conceded, not bad.

By way of comparison Manchester City have won three and lost three, scoring nine, conceding eight.  Of course they are going to win the league by a mile this season, and quite probably (given their money) next season and the season after that to equal the three in a row records of Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool and Man U.  But it is interesting to note where they don’t quite get everything that money might possibly just be able to buy.  Such as the referee.

At least not this past week.

Recent Posts from Untold and the Arsenal History Society – guess which is which

Man U take over from Arsenal at the bottom of the League

Gross refereeing incompetence and vengeful corruption? Why Elneny was sent off.

Arsenal – Southampton : 3-2

First Arsenal man to play 300 games, 1st to play for England, 1st to play 8 consecutive seasons


25 Replies to “Manchester City miss equalling Arsenal, and the things money can’t buy.”

  1. Possibility 4: The PL and their PGMO cohorts wanted to prevent City winning the title too early as it could mean a loss of interest for the PL. I came to this conclusion after watching some 10 minutes of this match. I even wrote a comment about it on this site. I think this was the real reason for Atkinson not giving an early penalty against Young, then a few minutes later ignoring Young completely taking out a City player that went past him in a dangerous position. I didn’t see the Young on Aguero tackle live as I had stopped watching this charade after that. This was a third incident that made me sure that this match was fixed. Or Atkinson rubbish. Or both. Or was Atkinson trying to help his former manager?

  2. Tony

    You forgot:

    D) He’s only human. We all make mistakes, but generally our referees are the best in the World.

    As anybody who reads my ramblings will know, by and large I gave up reading the papers, or listening to talk radio, or soccer Saturday, etc. etc. years ago, but before I did I must of heard that old chestnut rolled out time and time again, following any such gaff by our wonderful men in black.

    I have no doubt if I could be assed to search or waited a couple of days the same bollocks will be repeated again, and again, and again.

    Following any controversy like this it’s usually less than a week before SKY start extolling the virtues of the wonderful referees in the Premier League.

    You wait.

  3. Tony

    I wouldn’t be harsh on Hackett as he was at least making a correct conclusion even if he failed to give all premises that led to it. Baby steps.

    I’d agree with Walter. Premier League is a product that earns a lot of money to everyone included in it: clubs, players, managers, referees, media, player-turn-pundits, player-wanna-be-managers etc. It’s an industry that has sold excitement years ago. That industry earns massively from reputation of English football as hard-tackling end-to-end stuff that you can’t see anywhere else in Europe. That’s why that industry is so reluctant to introduce VAR in Premier League – get VAR and you’ll “slow the game down”.

    It doesn’t matter that with VAR the decisions will be correct, that big decisions that are theoretically worth of millions to clubs included (i.e. how much money have Arsenal Football Club lost by missing Champions League for a mere point due to pathetic refereeing last season?) will now be resolved during games and not after the game (i.e. remember the infamous Diego Costa-Gabriel incident directed by Mike Dean?).

    The main problem is, Mark Clattenburg’s admission that he used two different interpretation of Laws of the game – one for Europe, one for England – should have been a trigger for a massive investigation in English football. FA should have been already all over PGMO asking for an explanation.

    Sadly, it won’t happen as long as the product (Premier League) is doing so well on the market.

  4. Walter

    “I didn’t see the Young on Aguero tackle live as I had stopped watching this charade after that. This was a third incident that made me sure that this match was fixed. Or Atkinson rubbish. Or both.”

    Spot on.

    This is what I said straight after the match:


    07/04/2018 at 7:32 pm

    “I think pigmob have got their percentages the wrong way round because I’m sure I’ve just seen Atkinson get 98% of his decisions wrong.


    Ok 98% is a bit of an exaggeration…….I think ?, but I have no doubt whatsoever in my own mind that what we saw from Atkinson was a deliberate attempt to influence the result of a football match.

    Whether it was of his own volition or he was under instruction I have no idea.

    Either way, for him to go unpunished by his bosses, shows utter incompetence, and worse, complete and utter contempt, for all of us who pay fortunes to put up with this shit.

    As well as that, for that performance to not be subject to some form of investigation, or at least in depth scrutiny, from our media, displays a shameful willingness on there part, to be complicit in what is now becoming a national embarrassment, regarding the quality of our referees.

  5. 6 wins in a row. That’s good. But 5 of them at home! Until I see more away wins would I begin to nurse some hope about this our team

  6. Moving away from one sub standard ref in Atkinson to the dreadfull Marriner who we had yesterday. He missed two red card challenges by Tadic. The first on Reis Nelson after two minutes was a deliberate ‘welcome to the premier league laddie’ challenge designed to intimidate and possibly injure a young player making his debut. The second was a studs first lunge into Iwobi’s shin. In Marriners previous match, Chelsea v Spurs, he failed to punish two possible leg breakers by Verthongen and Lamela, both on Fabregas I think. The man is a disgrace and shouldn’t be anywhere near a football pitch, someone will get seriously injured under his watch one day, and yet he gets away with these terrible performances week after week.

  7. The Daily Cannon concludes with:

    If only we had some sort of technology to help out referees….

    The technology exists. It is called a “clue bat”. You beat the referee with it after they make mistakes; until they either quit making mistakes, or they just quit.

    Rednecks in my part of the world think a “clue bat” is a piece of wood. But I think the best form of the clue bat, is the extruded polyethylene foam cylinder that is maybe 6 inches in diameter (4 inch?) and 4 or 5 feet long. Often brightly coloured. But that clue bat needs to be applied in public, and the episode needs to be caught on camera and published.

    Marca mentioned that Michael Oliver has been chosen to referee Real Madrid versus Juventus. So, two more European teams will find out just how poor an English referee is.

    That kind of action by UEFA, is not the clue bat we were looking for.

  8. MickHazel

    It’s not only Atkinson and Marriner, it’s been going on all season.

    Take the 4 – 1 Manchester City victory over Spurs back in December refereed by Craig Pawson.

    From Keith Hackett:

    “Harry Kane and Dele Alli should both have been sent off at Man City – this was a terrible weekend for our referees”

    So as Josif suggests, perhaps Mr Hackett should be cut a little slack because at least he seems to see the referees for the shambles they are.

    Were as Graham Poll, though critical at times, always seems to err on the side of the referee.

    The following was his take on those same 2 assaults refereed to by Hackett.

    “Tottenham, purveyors of a beautiful brand of football, also have a real edge and it’s their English players who provide this steel.

    In their attempt to stop the irresistible force that is champions-elect Manchester City, they put in two challenges which, taken in isolation, were both worthy of red cards.

    Watching the game in its entirety — with access to every angle inside seconds — there was never a feeling that Spurs were trying to stop City with brute force. The poor challenges were isolated and the referee was in control.

    NB: He did also say in his article that Kane did not warrant a red card.

    So despite missing 1, possibly 2 red cards, the ref was ‘in control’.

    In his piece in the Express today he fails to even mention either assault on Nelson or Iwobi.

    The handbags seems much more important.

  9. Gord

    “Marca mentioned that Michael Oliver has been chosen to referee Real Madrid versus Juventus. So, two more European teams will find out just how poor an English referee is.”

    The thing with that is Gord, as I have said on here many times, I think that by and large our referees perform ok on the World stage. Not perfectly obviously, as losing count of the cards you have issued would attest to, but on the whole far better that they do in the premier league, which may have something to do with: ‘The main problem is, Mark Clattenburg’s admission that he used two different interpretation of Laws of the game – one for Europe, one for England’ to which again Josif alluded to earlier today.

    I think in Europe they adhere, to a much greater extent at least, to the ‘laws of the game’. Where as in the premier league they referee to an agenda as set out by the media, and in it’s wake the subservient PGMOL, who are only really interested in how they are portrayed on Talkshite, BT or SKY.

    It matters not a jot to the pigmob how good the referee was in actual fact, only in how there performance is portrayed by those outlets.

  10. Some people notice/mention “FIFA accredited”. I think that term is misused, and I think there also needs to be a UEFA accredited.

    First off, all referees that officiate in England, need to be FA accredited. What FIFA accredited should mean, is that when FIFA is looking for officials for its “games” (which mostly revolve around World Cup), it sees in officials working games under whatever jurisdiction, performance, action and honour of the type that it wants for its games. And similarly for UEFA (and others).

    This would get around this nonsense that a referee perform differently in England than he/she does in Europe (or at a World Cup).

    The (sweet) FA can still “nominate” officials to FIFA or UEFA, and either or both of those organizations should be allowed to ignore any nomination and accredit whoever they choose to. And if The (sweet) FA gets annoyed that its nominees are not getting consideration, they can change the environment in England such that officials can behave in a manner which can lead to them being recognized by UEFA and FIFA.

  11. The easiest way to look at the PGMOL is that they get 98% of their decisions correct. In which way are these correct one might ask? They satisfy the agenda. The agenda is to make every bang make a buck for the group. The decisions are not based on the Laws of the Game but on the agenda to satisfy lead lined pockets.

    It makes no difference how many legs are broken or how many lives are impacted by their corrupt actions. They are in a more powerful position than the South American drug barons. No ‘body’ can investigate or question their actions. Wenger tried to his cost as did some others but Rudolf (the red nosed one) found a way. He joined them & allowed them to create this brand ‘English Premier League’ that has robust tackling & sloping pitches that satisfied the gambling while ignoring the game itself.

    Wenger is lost in this jungle of media bias & traded corruption with leech like agents sucking the blood out of the paying public.

    I sit watching a game that stops (2 wasted minutes) for an idiot to draw a line following a corrupt decision or to watch him run (2 more wasted minutes) half way up the pitch (note the slope) to book a goal keeper for time wasting.

    Walter your 10 minute conclusion is so correct but it is also so sad for this game we love.

  12. Gord

    Regarding that article in the Daily Canon. (thanks for the link)

    I’ve only just been and read it and I see the author has a similar take on the medias influence over major footballing bodies. He says:

    “But it’s not just the papers who are ignoring both red-card fouls (there was no mention of either tackle in the Mail’s match report, nor the Mirror, The Times, the S*n, Guardian, Daily Star, Daily Telegraph or any other major outlet that I checked this morning). Match of the Day Two didn’t show either incident either which is just staggering given how bad the tackles were.

    What all this means is that Tadic is unlikely to see any sort of retroactive punishment for two tackles that could, on a different day, have resulted in a serious injury.

    The FA seem inclined to act only when they are forced into it by the media.

    There is no uproar here, so there will be no retroactive punishment.”

    Absolutely spot on and says it all. It sums up perfectly just why referees know they can let that sort of tackle go against us. They know there is absolutely nobody who will take them to task.

    The FA ? You have to be joking.

    PGMOL ? Don’t make me laugh.

    There is absolutely no doubt that both those bodies, or at least individuals within them, saw or know about those assaults, yet simply because the media aren’t telling them to, they will totally ignore them.

    The media run the FA as well as the referees. If anyone doubts that they must be blind.

  13. How much money do the media ( TV and newspapers ) pay to the FA/Premier League which funds the PGMO to earn money , enough never to question how these inept organisations are allowed to operate

  14. @ Nitram
    Posted my comment as you were posting yours we are of a very similar opinion

  15. Steve Vallins

    I find it immensely frustrating when people fail to make the link between the Media and the way the game is run and refereed.

    It is, and has been to me, for a very long time, so blindingly obvious.

    The reason the referees can stitch us up so wantonly is because the media actively encourage them to.

    a) by systematically ignoring (often even praising) bad decisions made against us.

    b) by going in to meltdown at the merest suspicion a referee has awarded us something they feel they shouldn’t have.

    Most Arsenal fans have to concede that overall we have been well and truly stitched up on penalties this year, both for and against.

    But the 2 decisions that made the biggest headlines were the Ramsey one at Burnley and the Ozil one against Stoke, both of which were at worst 50/50’s, although how anybody can deny Ramsey was fouled I do not know.

    I know Mike Dean got some stick over the 1 at WBA but given the amount we should of had that hardly balances it out.

  16. Of all the Pgmob referres, which one of them can be said to be a good referee and deserves to officiate in the 2018 World Cup? if judging his officiating performances in the Premier League this season holds water – Bobby Madley?

  17. Nitram
    Another example of the media was the non reaction to the Chelsea v Spuds game which Clattenberg refereed where umpteen players were booked and at least 4 should have been sent off . The game was a disgrace the FA fined both teams , our game with Man Utd a few years earlier was nowhere near as bad but we had points deducted .
    Clattenberg admitted he refereed the game above mentioned game how he wanted and not to the laws/rules of the game , again this didn’t raise an eyebrow with the media or the FA .

  18. Surely, Marriner and Atkinson have learnt the art of turning a blind eye to the obvious bad foul, from the great expert, their boss Riley.

    His infamous performance at OT should be shown to all referees every week before they go out to see how not to do it.

  19. I thought Keith Hackett’s article was very helpful, Tony. Don’t let your hatred of the Telegraph blind you to a decent article. I try not to do the same about the Guardian, although I do agree it’s hard!

  20. 1 “decent” Keith Hackett article doesn’t excuse his historical selective bias. Check out youaretheref website, of which he is part of. On their “The Ref Show – 9th April” they look into the “key incidences” of the week. Of the Arsenal game, the Elneny Red card was mentioned and also, Jack getting away with just a Yellow. No other “key incidences” in our game, nothing, nada, zilch.
    Taken from their website:
    “Our role is to supplement the standard programmes offered by national federations and provide UNRIVALLED ANALYSIS, education and insight to colleagues seeking to achieve the standards they set for themselves.”

  21. The only difference between the WWE and the EPL is that the commentators in the WWE are more vocal in pointing out the referees’ mistakes and that he was unsighted , while in the EPL they are more subtle and selective .

    And for me those WWE commentators seem more competent, direct and truthful , although both sports are definitely fixed ! And many of the ‘stars’ suffer from selective blindness.

    And strangely you never ,ever get offended by the antics in the WWE . Or their inane comments , such as ..

    -” I have never seen anything like this !”
    Although you see the very same every day!

    -” Can you believe this ?” or “I cannot believe what I am seeing !”

    -” Who would have thought/guessed it would end this way?”
    Only everyone !

  22. Gunz

    Thanks for that.

    No it doesn’t, and it just shows that despite him seeming to be more willing than most to condemn referees it doesn’t appear to stretch as far as condemning them when it comes to us.

    Honestly, the failure of any media platform to even acknowledge the 2 incidents even occurred, whilst at the same time trying to hype up the notion that Wilshere ‘got away with one’, is a joke.

    But this is what we’ve come to expect.

    Arsenal are never hard done by. They only ever ‘get away with it’.

  23. Wilshere didn’t get away with it. He got a yellow card. And that is the punishment for shirt pulling. Nothing more, nothing less

  24. Walter

    I know he didn’t.

    It seems the consensus in the media is different though.

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