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The mysterious body that secretly runs Football in England

by Tony Attwood

Yesterday we revealed how different the refereeing structure is within the Premier League from other major European Leagues.  Specifically, with the way that certain highly influential referees are given many many more games than their colleagues, in the Premier League.   This does not happen elsewhere, where all referees are kept on roughly the same number of games.

If you missed the two articles they are at

This, of course, is not the only odd aspect of refereeing in the Premier League that we have highlighted, nor indeed the only odd aspect of the administration and management of football as a whole in England.

And throughout we have tried being serious with statistical analyses, backing up our findings with the relevant stats.   We have also highlighted other odd issues that we have come across along the way.  Some have made the national media such as

  • The Liverpool youth scandal
  • The Manchester City youth scandal
  • The Chelsea youth scandal
  • The Manchester City Uefa Financial Fair Play scandal (under appeal)
  • The wholesale child abuse scandal over which many issues have still not been resolved
  • The scandal of the FA spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money to run another World Cup in England and as a result, getting only two votes (one of which was England), then not even realising that the bidding was fixed, and then saying they are now willing to waste millions more of taxpayers money in order to do it again.
  • The propaganda put out by the FA and generally accepted by the media that England’s failure on the international stage is due to there being too many foreigners in the Premier League, when in fact all the evidence points to the fact that the relationship in terms of success at this level is with the number of fully qualified coaches per thousand players, not how many players play in their home country.  In fact many countries succeed beyond expectations with virtually no players playing in their home country.  This story runs every year, and yet the newspapers and other media simply repeat it over and over again without ever checking for evidence.  Why is that?
  • The scandal when Sport England simply walked away from associating itself with the FA after failure of the FA to use the money it was given for the building of modern all-weather pitches.  Sport England then took over the project and ran it, itself.  Properly.  It hardly made the news.
  • The appointment of an England manager by the FA who within a couple of months falls for a newspaper scam when offered money and openly boasted that he could arrange all sorts of illicit things for cash.  The manager lasted one game, threatened to sue everyone, and then shut up.
  • The fact that referees are not allowed to communicate with the media after matches, as they are in many European countries.  Why is that?  Why does the media never ask why we have this?
  • The instructions given to broadcasters about what they can and can’t show in terms of matches that they comment upon.
  • The fact that the PL delayed the implementation of VAR for a year, so they could get it right from day one, and have in fact had an implementation that has been very highly criticised.
  • The appalling human rights abuses reported in relation to the preparation for the next World Cup which seem not to be considered as an issue even to be discussed in terms of our associating the FA with these events.

Behind all this are three key points:

a) The uniformity of reporting – which is to say the general agreement among the media as to what will be reported and what will not and how it will be reported.  There is little variety in terms of the topics covered; time and again certain topics are simply left off the agenda.

b) The use by the media of so-called “experts” who are clearly are not experts at all.  To take one simple example, when discussing handball, and the regulations about the ball hitting a players arm from close by, the experts had no idea how close “close” actually was, and so the discussion simply skirted around that topic and got it quite wrong

c) Some topics are never considered, such as the hyper-secrecy of PGMO, why it needs to be so secret, what it has to hide behind its secrecy, and why unlike other leagues it has the same refs refereeing the same teams, over and over and over and over again.

As a result of all this, certain topics become established as fact.  For example, the rule about the number of homegrown players there must be in each 25 man squad in the Premier League.  There is no debate as to why this rule is there, which is a traditional and very effective way of pushing an illogical law through on an unsuspecting public.  It is accepted as valid; no one checks to see if it is.

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In fact there is no evidence at all that forcing clubs to have a set number of England-qualified players in PL squads improves the national squad, but it is always reported as a fact in the same way that “putting your hand in a fire will cause burns” is a fact.  We know the latter is true because it happens every time.  But there is no evidence concerning the validity of  the benefit of the Home Grown player rule.  As noted above, countries without such a rule generally do far better than England in internationals, even when they are much smaller countries with fewer players to choose from.

Perhaps the most misleading campaign has been that by PGMO which claims phenomenal levels of accuracy for refereeing, without ever once letting us see the figures so we can understand how their figures are so very different from ours.   Indeed this became farcical when PGMO claimed that the refs got 98.4% of their decisions right, and then a year later claimed that VAR would make referees 2% more accurate in their decision making.

Two issues become entangled at this point.   One is that the media, by being the paymaster of football, clearly cannot report it reasonably.  Reporting the sort of things we’ve noted above could seriously reduce the number of people watching football on TV etc, and so affect the media’s revenue stream, so no one has any motivation in the media, to change their tune.

This can be seen with all the hyperbole about transfers, which keeps the media going for much of the year.  As we have shown, clubs that spend a lot of money on transfers in the summer more often than not do badly the following season – but this is not going to be reported by a media that is dependent on the transfer rumours (97% of which are utterly untrue) which fill their pages.

The same is true with managers.  How often does the media point out that most managerial changes result in the club doing the same or worse?

So who is running all this?  Who is pulling all the media together so they follow such bogus stories?  Who persuaded the media not to make much of the child abuse scandal in football?  Who put the lid on the story about Sport England withdrawing funds from the FA?  Who makes sure that the papers never cover the story about the way refereeing is run in the PL – what with it being so different from the other major leagues?  Who organises the media so that irrelevant and untrue nonsense stories such as transfer rumours are treated as news, when in fact that there are major stories being covered in the media across Europe which simply don’t get covered here?

Is it just PGMO, or is there some other organisation, or an organisation within an organisation?

That is the next question to answer.

Untold Videos

Our videos explore some of these issues in depth – do take a look

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