How the Premier League set up a system that allows match fixing to flourish

By Tony Attwood

Modern day match fixing 

This story that match fixing is arranged by gambling syndicates in the Far East is the everyday tale that the newspapers tell (when they bother with it at all), and is in fact an endless retelling of the tale that was put about by the footballing authorities in the early 20th century.   Basically that story says, players might be susceptible to being bribed for match fixing purposes, but not the gentlemen who own the clubs.

And yes, in the early 20th century, with players earnings restricted by maximum wage rules in the league, the temptation of extra cash for helping to throw a match was obviously there.  (It is a story I have covered in depth on the Arsenal History Society website).

But these days of course players earn far too much for it to be worth their while to risk a career by fixing a game, so the notion arose of devilish foreign gamblers (not English of course) fixing games in obscure leagues in foreign parts.

And very cleverly the UK media has maintained this stance: that there is no match fixing in England because

a) We’re British and we don’t do that

b) the players are paid too much to be interested in throwing a game

c) if there was anything wrong we’d notice, and

d) people who believe there is match fixing also believe the earth is flat, wear tin hats, and are just looking for a way to explain the failure of their club to win a match.

Now this has been a phenomenally successful campaign and this notion that the English leagues are completely clean has been maintained by the total absence of any discussion of anything to do with match fixing in the Premier League or elsewhere in English football.

Thus even when Uefa recently admitted that it could no longer control match fixing and started advertising for help in attempting to combat it, the issue was utterly ignored by the UK media.

Of course the argument that “there is no evidence so there is no match fixing” is compelling, for it is rather like saying “there is no evidence that the rogue planet Nibiru will shortly hit the earth and destroy all civilisation”.   There is no evidence that Nibiru exists, and so the conspiracy theorists then suggest there is such a planet but you don’t read about it in the papers as there is a gigantic cover up.

But of course astronomers and astro physicists search the skies constantly for any new objects entering the solar system, and indeed have found one – Oumuamua – which passed by in 2017.

So to return to football my point is this: in most areas of life we rely on the freedom of the press, and the work of scientists and journalists to bring us information about anything odd happening.   And by and large that works.   Except in football in England, where it seems there is a widespread agreement not to discuss the notion that match fixing might ever exist.

And this lack of discussion of anything being wrong with football is increasingly common.

For example, we used to get wholesale criticism of refereeing on radio commentaries, while newspapers would criticise the way TV showed football, editing matches and hyping up commentary to make games look and feel more entertaining than they were.  But then suddenly that type of comment was also stopped.

Worse, the organisation that runs refereeing for the Premier League (PGMO) has a policy of ultra-secrecy such that it doesn’t even have a web site, forbids referees from giving interviews, and pays huge inducements to referees not to give interviews after retirement.  This is not common across Europe, and so I think it is a valid question to ask, “why does it happen in England?”

Indeed it is not the people who ask questions about whether matches are fixed who are behaving like the tin hat wearing conspiracy theorists.  Rather it is ultra secretive PGMO.

Of course just because something like match fixing might exist does not mean it does exist in the 21st century game.  And that was pretty much the position we were in until 2006 when details of the Italian match fixing scandal emerged.

And this was not because of the view that “if it happened in Italy it could be happening here” but rather that England and the PL with the ultra secret PGMO at the heart of refereeing had set up a system that looks as if it were designed to make match fixing of the Italian type much easier to implement in English football.

This brings us on to Calciopoli – the Italian match fixing scandal, and I will deal with that in the next article.

19 Replies to “How the Premier League set up a system that allows match fixing to flourish”

  1. 1I/Oumuamua was the first.
    2I/Borisov is in the neighbourhood at the moment.
    Wikipedia seems to suggest these objects are not that rare.


    Arsenal women away to the spuds in about 3 hours.


  2. Arsenal women: Zinsberger, Evans, Williamson, Beattie, McCabe, Walti, Little, Nobbs, Van de Donk, Miedema, Mead.

    I don’t know who is on the beach.

    Apparently the game is sold out.


  3. The complete disinterest of the British public & press is reflected in the first two comments on this article. Nobody cares Tony. You’ve been banging this drum for weeks with very little positive response from you usual ”’noisy’ contributors.

  4. Arsenal beach: Peyraud-Magnin, Quinn, Schnaderbeck, Mitchell, Maier, Roord

    It seems like there are 10 different twit accounts, and most of them are either full of other stuff, or have almost no information about the game that is currently on.


  5. Man$ity was in the early game, which they won 5-0 (over State Aid). Chel$ea squeaked out the 1-0 win over ManU. Everton currently leading Liverpool!! 0-1. And at half time, currently no scores with the spuds.

    BBC had stats for the women. We are bossing possession at 66%. Shots are 6:8 to us, shots on target has the spuds leading 2:1. Statistically, the shot data is all equal. We’ve had 2 corners to 0 for the spuds. Fouls are 10:1 to the spuds. I think the cards are 1:0 to the spuds.


  6. Masterstroke, whether nobody cares or not is hardly the issue. In many cases where an issue goes largely unnoticed, but ultimately breaks into the public consciousness what subsequent analysis finds is that just a handful of people “bang on” (in your terms) about it, with little effect but then either the momentum grows, or another incident happens, and more people become aware of the analysis and start commenting upon it. Without the early advocates little is noted and very little changes.
    I since the history of racism, homophobia, local government corruption etc show this. But even if I did not have these examples I would still want to write about something I see that seems to me to be wrong.
    In essence there are many people who either don’t see corruption or approve of it,and the few who see it. If the few never take action to publicise it, nothing would change.
    In short it has nothing to do with disinterest, but a lot to do with what one believes in right.

  7. Hey, I’m supporting Arsenal.

    When Chel$ea scored to open their 1-0 lead (ended up being final score), the standings were updated to show that Chel$ea had climbed back into first. It has been 10 or so minutes since Arsenal scored (putting us in second place), and the standing still not updated.

    And in Guardian coverage, some idjut with a first name of Luke (not Skywalker, but take my comment in the spirit of Star Wars) has been hearing voices: “Bash the Arsenal, Luke. Bash the Arsenal”.


  8. At 81m, the fouls are now 16:2. So far in the second half, the puds have picked up 2 more yellow. We seem to be getting more shots,but shots on target is still more or less equal between the two teams.


  9. At 81m, the garudianog announce the attendance at 38,262 (a WSL record – I gather Arsenal sold all of their allocation).

    At 82m, that woman Miedema scores unassisted!


  10. Maybe I was harsh on LiveScore. They did update standings. We are behind by virtue of goal difference. Before the game we were tied with Man$ity on goal difference, so something else put us in second.


  11. A fair number of medja articles about the womens game. Perhaps a few too many were gushing all over the spuds.

  12. Masterstroke

    “Nobody cares Tony”.

    Maybe they don’t, but does that not make them complicit ?

    “You’ve been banging this drum for weeks with very little positive response from you usual ’noisy’ contributors.”

    As possibly one of the usual ‘noisy’ contributors you where alluding to, I’ve said the same as you. Sadly hardly anyone does seem to care. At work when I mention this sort of subject they hardly give a shit. All they care about is there next 5 aways or the mess room sweep

    But who’s wrong here? Tony or the apathetic?

    There’s a famous quote you’ve probably heard:

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke

    Surely the fact ‘nobody cares’ and nobody seems to be doing anything is reason enough for Tony to shout it from the rooftops. And then shout it again, and again, until somebody does care.

    If it wasn’t for your comment I probably wouldn’t of commented but that doesn’t mean I don’t agree with the article.

    It doesn’t mean I don’t care about the subject.

    What do you want an endless stream of ‘here here’ Tony’s. I for one am glad we at least have one person, one blog, who does keep ‘banging the drum’, as you so disparagingly put it.

    Can I ask you a couple of questions:

    1) Do you think Tony should just shut up because “nobody cares” ?

    2) Do you believe there is no corruption ?

    3) Do you not care if there is corruption ?

    From your posts you seem a reasonable guy which makes it all the more worrying as to why you seem so dismissive of the subject.

  13. Nitram, four of the five most powerful leaders in the world are corrupt and nothing can be done about it, do you think an article about football corruption on a supporters blog is going to make any difference?
    Whether I do or don’t believe there is corruption or whether I care about it isn’t the issue.
    My point was that the response to his excellent article was some bland comments about a women’s football match (no disrespect to our girls intended). Was that disheartening or what?
    It’s encouraging to see that at least someone does care.

  14. Don’t know about ‘fantalism’, but I tend to hope that it will all come right in the end, and if it doesn’t we’re well & truly fcucked.

  15. Masterstroke

    “My point was that the response to his excellent article was some bland comments about a women’s football match (no disrespect to our girls intended). Was that disheartening or what?”

    You make a very good point but again I ask, is saying nothing, doing nothing, the answer?

    I think that is perhaps where we differ.

    As much as it is frustrating to ‘keep banging the drum’ when it appears nobody is listening to it, let alone reacting to it, I feel banging it harder is the answer, not stopping banging it.

    On a personal note I’ve been ‘banging the drum’ about media bias against Arsenal for over 15 years years. I had many a row with mates who insisted it wasn’t there and that even if it was it was all just a bit of fun. I insisted that it would eventually have a detrimental effect on us as a club, as a team, and I believe time has proved me right.

    I know some still insist there is no bias and that’s up to them. But personally I think it is very hard to deny that the amount of negativity against our climb is utterly disproportionate in comparison to others that arguable deserve it way more than us.

    Still, my point is, if you think you see a miscarriage of justice, a miss use of power, privilege or position, a corrupt system etc. etc. it is your duty to stand up against it.

    If we start to believe that because we are just one voice it either should not or cannot be heard then as a society we are lost.

    Never believe your voice doesn’t matter. Insist it is heard.

  16. Well said Nitram. One voice singing in the darkness will be heard.

    The comments on the ladies game was OT but relevant to the moment. Our club is supported by some of us across all the teams.

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