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That James McArthur was not sent off, tells us a lot about refereeing in the PL

By Tony Attwood

The assault on Bukayo Saka last night has quite rightly caused some protests, even from the normally referee friendly media.

Aubameyang has already said he couldn’t believe that James McArthur wasn’t sent off for his challenge on Saka.  And indeed even the normally Arsenal-negative Daily Mirror commented on the situation by saying “Crystal Palace midfielder McArthur kicked through the back of Saka in the closing stages of the first half, with the Gunners youngster failing to return for the second period as he was forced off injured.”

They continued by noting that “Responding to a video of the challenge on Twitter after the match, Aubameyang wrote: “How is that not a red? I had not seen it like that from the field.”

This at least is one tiny step forward, although now, under the rules imposed on the Premier League by PGMO, Auba can be charged under rule E3(1) which states that players “shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute …”

Now we might remember that Steve Bruce was displeased with the decision taken by Michael Oliver, in relation to a penalty awarded for handball, and said, “It was a joke decision. I have to ask the question, would we have got it? In my opinion, he (Oliver) couldn’t wait to give it.”

He was then charged under the E3 (1) rule.

So ‘bringing the game into disrepute’ is the only issue one can be done for when questioning a referee’s decision.

Here however the referee made a game-changing decision by not sending the player off.  And saying that does not question the integrity of the referee, and nor does it necessarily imply the referee is motivated by bias.

As others have pointed out before, this rule has been used in cases of indecency, racism and homophobia – and all quite reasonably.   But expressing an honest opinion that the referee is wrong is not something that should be invoked as a reason for disciplinary procedures.

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In effect, as others have pointed out before me, “Rule E3(1) appears to conflict with an individual’s Article 10 right to freedom of expression” and it is on this point that the FA has regularly and openly attempted to use Rule E3(1) to ensure that it protects the members of the PGMO.

But because of the pressure of PGMO to control every aspect of the game, and to protect themselves from all criticism, we now live in a world in which the freedom of managers and others to express their points of view has been restricted – with the compliance of an ever compliant (when it comes to refereeing) media.

Of course that does not mean that managers and others should be free to say anything they like, and most certainly does not mean that managers etc should be free to express racist or homophobic notions.

But because of the ludicrous way in which they whole of Premier League football kowtows to the whim of the PGMO, and because the UK media will not say a thing against PGMO, most people connected with the game are prohibited from pointing out how terrible that foul was, how badly misjudged the referee’s decision way, and how Palace were encouraged by that yellow card.

Mikel Arteta said that he could not understand why VAR didn’t look at the incident, and again we might well ask the same question.

Still there are always some who will excuse the referees.  But even former referee Mark Halsey said that McArthur was “extremely lucky” not be be sent off, adding “The Crystal Palace midfielder was late on the challenge, had no chance of winning the ball and booted Saka in his right calf at the end of the first half.”

The question then arises what will happen as a result of this?

The answer of course is nothing.  And that tells us all what the real problem is.  Because the message is that a tackle of this nature can be got away with, in certain circumstances.

17 comments to That James McArthur was not sent off, tells us a lot about refereeing in the PL

  • Chris

    I wonder what would happen if Saka where to go to the courts and sue McArthur for assault while playing football ?!?!?
    I think this has happened before maybe in Ice Hockey in Switzerland. Not sure and can’t remember the issue.
    But if fans can be sued for unruly behaviour while in the staands, is the field off-side as far as the law is concerned ?
    Could a player draw a gun, shoot and because the ref does not find a FIFA rule applying to this get away with it ?
    Where is the limit ? Some day, some player will get hurt and bring the PL and the aggressor to court, for millions in lost revenue, career broken, etc.

  • Kc

    Dean is an extremely bisaed ref. He didn’t give yellow for two blocks by Crystal palace but the moment Saka blocked the opponent he immediately flashed yellow. He is crooked , that’s why he not picked for internationals and european games.

  • zedsaunt

    No person should go to work and get injured. End of story.

    Saka was attacked at his place of work. Arsenal should prosecute McArthur, Palace, Dean, PGMO. They won’t, they’ll bury their heads in the sand and let Arsenal players get their lives disfigured by PGMO and the EPL giving the green light to any wandering thug.

    As a managing board with a duty of care Arsenal can down in history as the club that did nothing even when Eduardo had his whole future ruined.

    The best Christmas present to be sent to the Board of Directors of Arsenal Football Club would be a video of all the injuries inflicted on Arsenal players over the last two decades, culminating in the 9 minutes it took for Eduardo to be lifted onto a stretcher and off the pitch.

    That Board, in their failure to protect their workers and correctly discharge their duty, are corrupt beyond description.

  • porter

    When Adrian Durham and Jamie Carragher state that it was a red on an Arsenal player then you know it was pretty bad . Neville of course remembering his treatment of Reyes just grinned and declined to comment.
    It was of course Saka who is being treated as a national treasure to everyone but Dean.

  • PG GUNNER

    We could see what way the game was going when Mc Arthur hauled back ESR after he skipped past him no card ,as soon as Saka made a challenge Dean couldnt get the yellow out quick enough had he done the right thing and booked McArthur in the first place the foul on Saka might not have taken place or the yellow would have been followed by a red .Because Dean was being Dean as we know all to well he did what he wanted ,in a perverse kind of way he will be enjoying all the media coverage today and move on to the next game and in his own mad mind think the PL is lucky to have such a talented referee ,as for McArthur he knew because he got away with the tug on ESR he still could cause harm to a quicker more talented player than himself and neither him or his team would suffer to much.The one thing all Arsenal fans are asking already knowing the answer if that were Xhaka …….

  • porter

    Darren Bent and Laura Woods, speaking on talkSPORT, talked of Saka being “cleaned out,” and the question has to be asked as to how the correct decisions aren’t being arrived at when it’s so blindingly obvious to everyone else.

    Are we really in a situation whereby, after this long, supposed experienced officials are still getting the simple decisions incorrect?

    Perhaps a change at the top of PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) needs to be effected.

    WoW It’s happening.

  • Charles

    Where I live two Premier league games were shown live on Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t watch any of them.

    Last night’s game was shown live.

    I have Arsenal in my blood which is why I watched the game and plan to always watch Arsenal.

    I do not have corruptioon in my blood which is why I do not watch other Premier League games.

  • Nick The Gooner

    Additional notes on the clear bias last night
    I couldnt watch the game – i followed the score/ live commentary on a famous channel
    Sure I got frustrated and did my usual moaning -I’m a passionate Gooner and care deeply about our club
    We got the draw – All I read is how lucky we were though in the end had more possession more shots hit the bar and should of being playing 10 men
    Then to cap it -how we are not top four material
    (Dont think I can paste into here) Take a look at premiership and All teams last 5 games (BBC Tables will do)
    Only chelsea and Wolves beat our form – We tie with 2nd 3rd 4th – liverpool, City and Brighton
    Def still heading in right direction – despite clear and obvious bias.

  • Nitram

    Part of the reason Dean didn’t give a red, and VAR didn’t review it, is because that is exactly what they thought their masters at SKY and Talksport etc would of wanted.

    It’s only Arsenal, who cares what happens to their players ? I bet they cant believe this backlash. I know I cant.

    The thing is what they didn’t bargain for is that amazingly, despite playing for Arsenal, Saka has become a bit of a National treasure, on not only his decent England performances, but the way he handled himself after missing that crucial penalty and the abuse he received, and rightly so. I’m proud to call him a gooner.

    But as I suggested, much to my astonishment it’s backfired.

    I wonder if this could signal a change in how we are treated by referees?

    I shan’t be holding my breath.

  • zedsaunt

    Don’t hold your breath mate. Those nine minutes with Eduardo, I thought, would change things. That didn’t happen.

    The EPL forces you to rewrite all the concepts underwriting the game.

  • omgarsenal

    This is a saga which has been ongoing since I began watching AFC back in the early 90’s. Back then it was Riley and his minions who “adjusted” the rules according to their personally dictated directives from the Red-nosed one, the EPL and FA. This all came about because he had the nerve to makes fools of the UK press, win the league and trophies, all the while being French! He had to be shown a lesson and Riley happily obliged when he aided United to end AFC’s 48 game winning streak, when Dean sent Wenger into the stands to be harassed,insulted and mocked by the troglodytes at United, once again and has contin ued to this day with non-calls like Dean made yesterday!
    I have seen, what most honest officials, like myself, would consider to be a total abuse of the referee’s authority and almost always against the Arsenal. How many players have we had who’s careers were ended by vicious thugs and the EPL, the PIGMOB, the FA and other APL clubs ignored? I’ve lost count.

  • Yommex

    The moment Mike Dean was announced as the referee for the match, I inew Arsenal would be lucky to get a draw. And man, lucky seemed to be an understatement . I’d felt with the introduction of VAR things will change with Dean at the centre but obviously not for now.

    I’ll suggest a modification to the VAR intervention in matches to include each manager having the right to call for THREE reviews in the course of a match just as we have in Lawn Tennis. That at least will help reduce some of the biases of the officials.

  • porter

    I have never been a fan of the the touchline protest being written into law because it will very soon become part of the manager’s tactics.
    Already they use substitutions to break patterns of play , we all know that at times in every game one team will get the upper hand and when the other looks to be about to wilt under the pressure somebody will go down ,call on the physio , take a minute or two to let the coaches advise their players and reorganise .
    Nine times out of ten a further interruption will be for the subsequent substitution which completely breaks up the momentum.
    Giving managers a further opportunity to break the game will just make for the game to become even more sterile than it is already becoming.

  • mick shelley

    Yommex
    Even if Arteta had the right to call for a VAR review the same corrupt officials still would have had the final say and would have come to the same conclusion, ie No dangerous foul play to see there, original decision is correct so the yellow card stays, sorry you’ve lost your review.
    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

  • The fact that VAR didn’t amend Dean’s yellow to red tells us all we need to know about bias/corruption, or at best incompetence. As noted by others, if the dreadful spitting coin throwing Carragher thought it was red, then you know it was! Let us not forget the likes of Xhaka getting sent off for far less on numerous occasions.

    If you did that to someone randomly in the street, you could be arrested and charged accordingly. The set up is clearly not fit for purpose along with the whole PGMO. Quite how they get away with poor decision after poor decision without challenge is a joke.

  • Menace

    Until the PGMOL is cast into the trash can of obscurity, our league will be a farce ruined by wealth and lost from sport.

    Nothing will change when the whole of society is based on corrupt process set up by governments Iron Lady – sell the ownership to the highest donor (note not bidder).

  • Mick Pestle

    Daniel Siebert, last night, in Madrid, exposed the breathtaking incompetence of our alleged “elite” referees. He was not influenced by the intimidation of the Athletico Madrid players, management or crowd. He was brave enough to dismiss Griezmann immediately and reverse a penalty decision for ATthletico presumably on the advise of the VAR operative. We hope Mr Tierney, Mr Dean and Mr Bankes were watching and learning. I suspect, however, that they will be too arrogant to take anything on board.

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