By Dr Billy “the Dog” McGraw
But as even the normally instantly pro-PGMO Daily Express reported in its website, “Confusion surrounded the midfielder’s dismissal by referee Andre Marriner on Sunday.” They don’t however actually explain what that confusion was all about – and in the end I ended up confused more about the Express’ reporting than anything else. Here’s what they said…
“After Jack Stephens and Jack Wilshere clashed, which resulted in the Saints star being sent off, Elneny appeared to raise his hands to Cedric in the aftermath of the incident.” So why the confusion? If he raised his hands against an opponent with intent to strike him then he should have been sent off for violent behaviour.
Unfortunately this is all considered a bit too complex for Express readers – and quite possibly for the Express reporter Aaron Stokes, a man who normally covers Liverpool and Man U for the paper. For he next tells us “Arsenal fans were left perplexed by the decision at the time.”
Well not really. It is the sort of decision-making we have become used to.
But now let us consider what happened. There was clearly no attempt by Mo to assault a Southampton player – he was being pushed and shoved from all sides and was obviously doing some pushing back while attempting to get the players out of the way. He wasn’t looking for trouble, but was being hassled.
However what also happened was that a Southampton player ran over to the referee, pointed at Mo and seemed to indicate that Mo had been guilty of violent conduct. The referee then walked to Mo and sent him off without attempting to consult his support officials.
Clearly the Southampton player was guilty of trying to influence the referee unduly, and the referee was guilty of accepting the word of the player and seizing upon the opportunity to knock Arsenal. Something that smacks very much either of gross incompetence by the referee, a ref feeling he had to balance things up, or of a complex Type III match fixing – not necessarily trying to fix this game (which was in its dying seconds) but reduce the Arsenal squad by one for the next three league games.
But the actions of the referee could also be explained by crude type I match fixing in which the referee is persuaded to support one team on the pitch against the other, for the benefit of the first team.
Of course I don’t know whether the referee is just unfit for purpose, or was encouraged by an outside agency to behave in a bizarre and eccentric manner, but most certainly, what should happen is that the Southampton player’s actions should be investigated in attempting to influence the referee, as should the behaviour of the referee.
However all these problems could be set aside if only the PGMO were an open organisation rather than a company that makes hyper-secrecy its prime objective. If they told us exactly what happened to make the referee make a mistake, and how the events in this game fitted into their claim of 98% accuracy, we could be a little mollified.
As it is we are eternally in the dark – rather (it seems) like the VAR cameras are going to be next season in England. As the rest of Europe refines and improves their operation, (which of course was never going to be perfect from the off) and the referees improve their ability to deal with them rapidly, so it appears that once again the ultra secret society that is PGMO will do its own thing.
So we could well end up with England being not only the one country without a referee in the World Cup, but also the one major league that doesn’t use VAR. And as usual the shout will be that everyone else is wrong but the PGMO is right.
“An eternity of darkness,” is a phrase that comes to mind.
When it comes to refereeing in the Premier League I find it hard to think of a better representation.
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