Now we can see exactly what a club must do to win the Premier League

by Tony Attwood

Imagine a criminal justice system in which people who commit a crime get a wrap over the knuckles but get to keep the benefits of their crime.  We might think that is not much of a system, because in the end the crime is rewarded.  But it seems to be what is happening with football.

And not surprisingly given such a system those who spot the loophole in the rules have the chance to do what they like.

In order to make use of this loophole a club has to be willing to simply face down any criticism, and has to have the resources to take on the authorities.  If they can have the backing of a compliant mass media that will maybe run a story for a day or two and then ignore it, then so much the better

So to start with, consider a club that is very well to do, and which has a willingness to act in ways that suit the club’s own approach, no matter what the rules say.

Now of course bravado of that type is ok, but when rules are broken there will be punishments, so the club has to have the financial ability to take the punishment in order to push on for the greater reward, as well as brushing any criticism aside.

To see how this works, imagine a situation in which someone breaks into a house and steals £100,000 worth of property.  He knows he there is a fair chance he will get caught, (although there is a chance he won’t).  If he is not caught that’s a bonus; he expects to be caught and budgets for that because the rewards of the crime far exceed any punishment.

Now that might sound ludicrous, but just consider the situation with football.

A club might break FFP or domestic football rules because they have spent too much, or because they have broken the youth transfer rules.  The sort of thing of which Manchester City (financial), Chelsea (youth transfer) and Liverpool (schoolboy transfers) have been found guilty.

They are all punished, but if the punishment doesn’t really affect them, they might make a fuss, but they will know that they are doing fine, because the punishments are so small.   Of course they won’t say that is what they think (laughing at the judicial system is never a good idea, even Man C know that).  But really they have kept all the gains and had moderate losses.

In short, breaking the FFP and child transfer rules are factors that might get some publicity, but in terms of punishment hardly affect the club.

Let’s see how

Imagine a punishment in which the club doesn’t play in Europe for one year.  Sure, it loses money, but the fact is it is already channelling vast amounts of cash into the club through nefarious means, so that hardly matters.

Also it doesn’t compete in Europe for a year.  OK, but it is still competing in English competitions, and in one way it is better off because it is not distracted by the need for playing those extra games.  The players are less pushed through playing fewer games.   True some players might not like to be with a club outside of Europe for a season, but the winning of domestic trophies is a certain consolation.

So what’s happened?  Well hardly anything.  Domestic trophies are won, and after a year out of Europe they come back in.

Now think of clubs that break the youth rules, either with UK transfers or those involving a network of clubs across Europe.   They don’t have to return the young players from whence they came.  They keep those players and see them into the club’s system if they are good enough.  And if they are bringing in players wholesale, then what does a one year ban on youth signings mean?  Nothing.

As a result we might suspect that teams that break youth rules and FFP rules can become major forces in football.  The punishments they get are either irrelevant, or helpful (in that a year out of Europe helps them prepare for the future.

And since the media in the UK does not criticise the clubs that get caught by the rules – either never mentioning the case (as happened with Liverpool’s schoolboy exploits or just mentioning it at the time but then leaves it, then there is no long term damage.

Instead the team of players that clubs that break FFP rules build, becomes almost world beaters and those that break youth regulations very quickly build up their youth side.  Indeed breaking the youth regulations can mean that the club doesn’t have to break FFP, as it has so many youngsters coming through.

Now let’s consider three clubs that have of late been caught out either breaking FFP or youth rules.  We might think of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.

What is interesting is not just that they have done very well in the League of late but that they have been achieving record numbers of points.

Looking at the winners of the Premier League right the way back to when it started in 1992/3 when Manchester United won it with 84 points, and searching for the clubs that have won the league with the most points we find…

Team Season Points
Liverpool 2019/20 82 -107 points
Manchester City 2017/18 100 points
Chelsea 2004/05 95 points
Manchester City 2018/19 95 points
Chelsea 2016/17 93 points

Of the five seasons where the top teams have won the league with the most points three are the last three season, and one more could be this current season.  Only one of  the seasons with the highest number of points has come from an earlier period in the Premier League.  That shows the difference between the top club and the rest is widening.

And what of the clubs?  It may be that the fact that the three clubs that have broken the regulations recently are also the three clubs winning the league recently, is a mere coincidence.  We must each of us decide.

For either this is a coincidence or clubs are breaking the rules in order to win the League, and getting caught is just an occupational hazard.  In short…

If you want to win the League, break the rules.  It really doesn’t hurt much.


18 Replies to “Now we can see exactly what a club must do to win the Premier League”

  1. De Bruyne and Sterling didn’t start; Burnley didn’t lose two players to injury in the first twenty minutes, Burnley didn’t have a player sent off, Burnley conceded five goals, Burnley had less possession than us, Burnley managed fewer shots than us and Burnley didn’t have a shot on target. Let’s see if the media completely ridicule Sean Dyche and tear Burnley to shreds………….

  2. So from the article Mike Dean has been our unluckiest ref over the years, issuing us 74 yellow and 5red cards. Does he hate us? Let’s see his stats against our rivals
    _man utd -92y, 4r(their worst)
    _totts -76y, 2r(their worst)
    _man city -88y, 5r (worst)
    _liverpool -???
    _chelsea -82y, 6r(worst)
    _hes also Leicester’s and many other teams worst.
    Looks like man city, man utd and Chelsea have done worse with Mike Dean than we have. Tottenham has not fared much better either. So, is Mike Dean biased against us? Or has he just been around so long and treated everyone firmly? Everyone with his own deductions.

  3. For average cards issued by Mike Dean;
    _Arsenal 2.14/game
    _man utd 2.34/game
    _chelsea 2.2/game
    _totts 1.90/game
    _Man city -2.11/game

    So I ask again? Is Mike Dean biased against arsenal? Or are we being paranoid

  4. Martin Atkinson seems to be our 2nd worst, the stats are;
    _Ars -66y,5r(2nd worst) -1.97/game
    _Man U -57y,2r (2nd worst) – 1.79/g
    _totts -???
    _Man C -71y,3r (2nd worst) -2/game
    _Chelsea – 59y, 2r (2nd worst) -1.74/game
    _liver -66y,5r (worst ref) – 1.61/game
    NB: Leicester has the least win % with him in charge

    So, is Martin Atkinson also biased against us or does the same explanation as with Dean hold true?

  5. @Deb
    These stats you show are the results of games they refereed not spirit and tilted pitch they can provide , not getting a single fifty fifty letting this go letting that go and pulling Arsenal up for any minor problem he thinks he can .
    You don’t have to yellow or red card players ( it helps ) to show bias there’s plenty of other ways .

  6. When Saka hit the bar in the first half, the Arsenal player who had passed to him was scythe down after releasing the ball and was still on the ground. The incident was directly in front of Atkinson.

    It was a definite yellow and a possible red.

    Atkinson did nothing – not even a word of warning. No surprise there, then.

  7. Herein lies the dilemma – do I support The Arsenal for it’s tradition and values or am I a fan who believes that the reason I follow my club is for winning trophies?

    After more than 60 years, I can honestly say that that I am in the former category, having been through such times the Billy Wright era.

    Would I swap my clubs history since I started supporting them, for those that have sold their souls for silverware? Never in a million years!!

    Next season I will still be following my club, probably have no European football to watch and love every minute of being part of the club.

    So no way would I want us to be in the shoes of the clubs mentioned and just imagine what the media would do to us if we did flout the rules!

  8. @Deb
    You don’t seem to have read the stats that you linked to very well.
    According to those stats the worst (or as it’s phrased unluckiest!) refs for the top teams are as follows:-
    Arsenal – Mike Dean
    Chelsea – Andre Marriner
    Liverpool – Andre Marriner (Atkinson gives them the most cards)
    Man City – Martin Atkinson
    Man Utd – Martin Atkinson
    Tottenham – Martin Atkinson

  9. @ken1945 – Having supported the club from the 1971-72 season, I loved all the successes and highlights , but also that this club holds to very high ideals which is what keeps me going.

    Losing is terrible , but winning in style and panache is what gladdens me old heart.

    I truly wouldn’t mind not playing in Eupore next season to give the players more to gel.

    But then again I’d be overjoyed to celebrate St. Totteringham’s Day once again !

  10. @micko, I think it is you who should look at the stats again. Our worst ref for cards is Mike Dean. He is also the worst issuer of cards to Man utd, Chelsea, Leicester, Man city, Tottenham. If you are talking about unluckiest based on win percentage, ours would be Michael Oliver followed by Stuart attwell, with Dean in 3rd place.

  11. @Steve, you may be right, but remember, those parameters you mentioned are subjective (in other words mere opinions), untold emphasizes fact based arguments. These are the stats, the cold hard facts. Anybody can claim any ref tilts the pitch against any team, but to prove that you need the facts

  12. Deb……..your contention that referees officiate games against the Arsenal just like any other team has some flagrant oversights:

    1) Arsenal and a few other teams get the same officials on a regular basis, because someone in the PGMOL is arranging this to happen…..we all pretty well know who that is.

    2) As a former professional referee, I know that a well placed caution or ejection can alter a game irretrievably. When Luiz got ejected that was the nail in the coffin for AFC against MC. Would the game ended differently if he hadn’t been expelled….who knows but it might have with 11 v 11.

    3) Officials are making serious errors in every Arsenal game, like Atkinson ignoring serious foul play by Maupay right in front of him. The rules are clear about charging a keeper in the air and he ignored that rule totally.

    4) We will NEVER have proof positive that referees are bent unless one of them admits it and implicates others in the PGMOL hierarchy but there are websites dedicated to showing that officials are bent. I certainly think they are poor by all European and World standards and we see that when we are officiated by foreign officials.

    5) There is far too much $$$ involved in the Game, with gambling syndicates, less than fit owners, dubious transactions and, as Tony has clearly proven, major clubs breaking the rules regularly. We’ll never prove any one official is bent or
    is biased against AFC but we might be able to highlight the serious abuses the PGMOL and the FA seem to tolerate on a regular basis.

  13. The bias is clear, and it is undeniable.

    Because, despite the subjective nature of many decisions in football, the statists tell you it is clear, and it is undeniable, and anyone he attempts to deny this is simply fooling themselves.

    The last 10/11 years:

    PENALTY STATS for and against us, and for those who have generally been our closest rivals over that period:

    Team – For – Against – Differential

    Man C 80 – 34 Plus 44
    Man U 73 – 34 Plus 39
    Chels 69 – 31 Plus 38
    Lv’pl 63 – 42 Plus 21
    Spurs 49 – 50 Minus 1
    Arsen 49 – 65 MINUS 16

    Those differentials are absolutely ridiculous, especially with man Utd and Chelsea.

    RED AND YELLOW CARD STATS for the last 10 years followed by the last 5 years.

    Yellow = 1 pt
    Red = 2 pts
    % difference to Arsenal

    10 Years

    Arsenal = 680 pts
    Man Utd = 672 pts -1.5%
    Man City = 672 pts -1.5%
    Spurs = 639 pts -6%
    Chelsea = 635 pts -6%
    Liverpool = 554 pts -20%

    5 Years

    Man Utd = 350 pts +2%
    Arsenal = 343 pts
    Spurs = 319 pts -7%
    Man City = 304 pts -11%
    Chelsea = 291 pts -15%
    Liverpool = 237 pts -31%

    To summarise the last 10/11 years, Arsenal have.

    MOST penalties against.

    LEAST penalties for.

    WORST penalty differential.

    WORST cards against over the last 10 years.

    2nd WORST cards against last 5 years.

    Why would 1 club have the worst stats in all but 1 of those categories? These are not just small anomalies, these are consistent trends over 10/11 years, that involve a myriad of different players, coaches and now 3 managers.

    Despite the assertions of some apologists that we are some how culpable in this because of ‘The way we tackle’ ‘The way we attack’ ‘We’ve upset somebody’ blah blah blah, surely that is now totally without credibility, if it had any in the first place.

    These figures also take in a range of referees, BUT here’s the thing, referees with one thing in common, they all worked, or are working under the guidance of one man, a man we know Royally screwed us at Old Trafford in what was surely his ‘fit for purpose’ rehearsal.

    Finding minutiae of data here and there that seemingly discredits what these long term statistics tell us just doesn’t cut it.

    What these long term statistics show is that there is without doubt, and there is NO DOUBT, a refereeing bias against Arsenal. The statistics clearly show this.

  14. @OMG, I didn’t make any contentions sir. I only found some stats that I felt needed to be put out for discussion. In that vein let us analyze the points you have raised
    Point 1 -arsenal and some teams get some officials too regularly. Based on the stats in the article, and analysing just the top 6, it would seem that that is true for all teams in the top 6
    Mike Dean
    -arsenal -37games
    -tottenham -41games
    -man utd -41
    -man city -44
    -chelsea -40
    -liverpool -???
    -arsenal -36
    -tottenham -28
    -man utd -33
    -man city -37
    -Chelsea -35
    -liverpool -44
    Michael Oliver
    -arsenal 27
    -tottenham 32
    -man utd 28
    -man city -???
    -chelsea 23
    -liverpool ???
    Anthony Taylor
    -arsenal ???
    -tottenham 27
    -man utd ???
    -man city ???
    -chelsea 26
    -liverpool 35
    It would seem that for the these 4 refs selected (3 based on their worst card stats with arsenal) that it is true these 4 refs have done plenty of games, but it also seems there’s no statistical difference in number of games each of them has done for each of those teams, except the teams they may not be allowed to ref. Take Dean for instance, apart from Liverpool which he doesn’t ref I believe, he has reffed between 37games(arsenal) as the fewest to 44games(man city) the most. Same goes for the other refs.
    Your points 2-5 are all subjective, opinion based. I don’t have anything to say about them because they are your opinions.

  15. @Deb
    Points decide games not cards (If they did we would have been relegated, 10 years or so ago).

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