How referees are being bribed to accept VAR decisions

By Tony Attwood

Referee Paul Tierney and assistant referee's Adrian Holmes and Michael McDonoughCould it be that our constant campaign to embarrass the PGMO (and the mass media that supports it), by pointing out referee errors, their refusal to give any public statements or to bring themselves in line with the rest of Europe, is having an effect?

And could the media’s abject failure to consider refereeing as an issue of interest, actually starting to crumble – just a little?

I am not holding my breath (since I do fancy continuing to live for a while longer) but I was certainly taken aback by an article in the Mail which revealed that (at least according the Kieran Gill and Sami Mokbel) the PGMO are actually giving their referees marks for their performances – and basing their salaries on those marks.

Now given what I know about PGMO I would suspect that each and every one of these ne’er-do-wells is automatically given 10 out of 10 for every show, but the Mail claims that “a typical top flight official’s salary can be boosted by bonuses of around £50k.”   It seems the scores after each round of matches are put into a merit table, which determines the payout.

There is precious little detail in the article, which focuses on saying everything three times, but they do add that “A typical Premier League referee earns a basic salary of around £110,000 to £120,000 but bonuses can boost that figure to £160,000 or £170,000.”

The Mail adds, “If he’s made a mistake, which clearly his VAR thinks he has if he’s (told) to go review his original decision, then he’s going to be marked down for it afterwards.”

However, it is being suggested that the PGMO has decided to do things differently, by having every single decision including each throw-in marked by evaluators.

Now in a sense, this should not surprise us.  PGMO is an ultra-secret organisation that runs refereeing in a completely different way from the rest of Europe.   It is primarily protected from scrutiny by the compliant agreement of any major media in England outlet ever to discuss whether referees are making regular errors.

And this is continuing despite the clear evidence presented on this site from sources as varied as the London School of Economics (part of London University), analyses of refereeing in other parts of Europe, and the Tomkin Times which I have cited here before.  (If you haven’t read the articles linked there, and you are interested in referee accuracy I would urge you to take a read.)

One other note near the end of the Mail’s piece is also of interest…

“Sportsmail can also reveal how, during a recent half-term review with PGMOL bosses, referees raised concerns about feeling pressure to overturn their original decisions when told to visit the pitchside monitor by VAR.”

The argument being put forward is that with just the tiny amount of time available to look at the VAR monitor, referees are foced into changing their view too quickly, and that calmer reflection could have allowed them to ascertain that their original decision was right.

The Mail says of this, “‘They have a potentially match-defining decision to make and they’re getting guided by a video assistant referee who clearly thinks he should side with what he’s seen. It’s no wonder they feel under pressure to overturn their calls. All referees are feeling the same way right now’.”

Thus there is something rather insidious going on.  If the referee feels he was right, and he is told to look at the monitor, the implication is that HQ thinks the ref was wrong.  But the ref knows that if he changes his mind and admits he was wrong, this will influence his salary.  

In short, this is nothing to do with football anymore.  This is about how much the referee earns.

Gaslighting: how refereeing in the Premier League is manipulated, and why the media never speak about it.

5 Replies to “How referees are being bribed to accept VAR decisions”

  1. I would expect that the assessment of referee bonus points by PGMOL will place great emphasis on how effective they are in penalising Arsenal.

  2. The one thing that’s lacking here is exactly what they get marked on. Is the criteria for a good score making the right decision as per the laws of the game or, as John L suggests, making the the decision which Riley would wish to see irrespective of whether it is the correct decision?

    Here we have the perfect opportunity for the PGMOL to show some integrity and transparency. Why not publish the table, once a season at least, and then reveal why certain referees received the scores they did. The only possible reason for not doing so is if you have something to hide.

  3. Of course where VAR simply forces the referee to go to the monitor and then deliberately doesn’t show him the images which confirm he was clearly correct in awarding the penalty in the first place, as in the Overruled Saka penalty versus Leeds where the ref was shown images which confirmed nothing and could have been taken from a blimp somewhere over Highgate, then their attempt at presenting an image of fair play simply falls apart. And as the author says, when the TV, in this case BT Sport, shows the image confirming the correct initial decision of the referee as part of its review and then never shows nor mentions it again after the VAR farce, airbrushing it out of history, then all pretence of fair play is really given up.

  4. In an ideal system I would expect the ref assessment and penalty system to work this way
    The ref makes a decision, VAR looks at it, if he feels the ref was wrong he calls the refs attention, the ref goes to the pitch side monitor and reviews the incident, following which he either changes his initial decision or sticks with it. At the end, the assessors asses everything, both ref and VAR are assessed, with the following as possible outcomes
    1. Ref made a wrong decision (as decided by the assessors), VAR spotted it, ref looks at the monitor, reverses the wrong decision. Verdict- right decision eventually made, no deduction from either refs pay, or slight deduction from refs pay for initially getting it wrong.
    2. Same scenario as 1, but ref refuses to overturn the wrong decision after checking the monitor. Verdict- wrong decision made by ref despite advice by VAR. Significant deduction from ref’s pay.
    3. Wrong onfield decision, VAR doesn’t also spot. Verdict -both ref and VAR get deductions.
    4. Correct onfield decision, VAR wrongly flags, ref reviews on the monitor and goes with the VAR. Verdict -wrong decision made, both refs guilty and get deductions.
    5. Scenario in number 4, but ref after reviewing at the monitor, overrules the VAR and goes with his initial decision which the assessors judge as correct. Verdict -correct decision made after ref overrules VAR. Deduction from onl VARs pay.

    I believe if this format is used, the refs would be more interested in making the right calls than worrying about whether or not they have to overturn their decision.

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