Sanitisation of English football means the excitement is often elsewhere.

By Tony Attwood

Football, as presented on TV, on the radio, on the internet and in print, feeds on one thing, and one thing only: controversy.   But that controversy has to be contained.  Only certain controversies are allowable.

Through the game, at half time and after the game pundits ooze pleasantries about how good the winning team were and how much of a “message that will send to the rest of the league” as they regularly say, but gradually the willingness of fans to accept the pundits pontifications are, I think, declining.

What is happening I think is that fans of many clubs are becoming more and more disenfranchised from football, simply because the pundits eulogise about certain teams, and tell us all the problems of the other teams.   Likewise some fans remove themselves from any association with what we might call normal behaviour, because of the singular distance between the authorities and the fans.  The disconnect is so great, one can almost feel it.

The fact is that from 2005 on to 2021 Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United have each won the league multiple times.  Two clubs have wheedled their way in and won the league once each – Leicester and Liverpool.

This is fairly fine if you are a supporter of one of those three clubs that wins, and sort of a bit ok if you support Leicester or Liverpool.  But otherwise, it is rather less than exciting.

Of course this is nowhere as bad as Germany where Bayern Munich has won the league nine times running and in fact in Germany only four other teams have won the league since the start of the century.

Naturally those who defend the league say that they can’t help it if some teams are well run and have lots of money – but of course they could.   Proper FFP rules and (in England’s case at least) authorities who were willing to take serious action against clubs that break the rules, would help.  Spending caps on transfers would help too.

But money (however gained) wins the day and supporter powerlessness grows.   Not the powerlessness of the supporter who supports his local non-league side that plays in front of a few hundred spectators.  But supporters of teams who feel (reasonably or not) that their team ought to be competing on something like equal terms with others in the league.

It is this sense of disenfranchisement and lack of opportunity that gives rise to scenes as in Germany where Dortmund supporters and the club’s manager showered the Bayern players and management with beer after one recent game.  Speaking of the referee the Dortmund manager who had been sent to the stands for protesting against refereeing decisions from the sidelines said that, “Mr. Zwayer is welcome to come back and blow the whistle on the next top match as well.  He can put as many obstacles in our way as well.  We’ll just keep going.”

But the anger of the crowd was overwhelming as season ticket holders in the stands climbed onto the roof of the Munich bench.

Now if any of that had happened in England, the FA would come marching in and start deducting points (if Arsenal had been involved) or giving the club a severe lecture and a meaningless fine (if any other club’s supporters had been part of the uprising).

But in Germany it is different.  First, he went to Mats Hummels – the central figure in the disputed penalty decision that caused the problems – and spent five minutes explaining to him personally how he arrived at the controversial verdict.   He then undertook a TV interview (which would be illegal in England) and explained his decision making.

The media reported all this but then dropped into what can only be described as “English mode” by saying that Dortmund lack the necessary mentality to compete with FC Bayern explained the Bayern win (which is the ultimate get-out for a journalist who has no idea what to write).   “They don’t have a winning mindset” is as meaningless a generalisation in German as in English.

But there was a really extraordinary end to this affair because of the match, Jude Bellingham who moved from Birmingham to Dortmund in 2020, did an interview in which he recalled referee Zwayer’s involvement in the Robert Hoyzer bribery scandal in 2004.  Hoyzer claimed at that time to have received about £45,000  from three Berlin-based Croatian brothers who won large sums by betting on the rigged matches. Police then raided a bar and found the betting receipts.

Ah, the PGMO might say, you see, these foreigners are corrupt but we are not.  But how on earth do we know?  Refereeing in the Premier League is so wrapped up in protective cotton wool no one can get near it.  In Germany at least corruption is revealed and spoken about.  In England it is all kept under wraps.

So we don’t normally have scenes as have been seen recently in Germany.  But ultimately there is a chance that a bubble will burst, and one day one newspaper might find the nerve to look at English refereeing in the way that they can do it in Germany.

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

9 Replies to “Sanitisation of English football means the excitement is often elsewhere.”

  1. “….one day one newspaper might find the nerve to look at English refereeing in the way that they can do it in Germany.”

    I assume you don’t advise anyone to hold their breath on this one Tony?!!

  2. Tony

    Well this is a surprise.

    “The fact is that from 2005 on to 2021 Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United have each won the league multiple times. Two clubs have wheedled their way in and won the league once each – Leicester and Liverpool.”

    You have been reading my posts.

    Then you add.

    “But money (however gained) wins the day and supporter powerlessness grows”

    Which is what I’ve been saying for years.

    But this is odd coming from you Tony as on many occasions you have written articles purely aimed at discrediting this notion.

    On many many occasions you have cited high spending as having very little to do with success. Mostly you have done this using short term periods, by that I mean perhaps 1, maybe 2 seasons, when a club has spent a relatively large amount of money and has seen very little, if any improvement. In fact sometimes they even regressed.

    Taken in isolation that can be, in fact often is, the case.

    But as I have said, these short term periods of binge spending are not the answer, for many reasons.

    The main one being that big spending usually goes hand in hand with a new manager, who is often starting from scratch, getting rid of the players from the previous splurge and replacing them with his.

    The answer is 2 fold, and not cheap.

    1) Get a manager and stick with him.

    2) Give him copious amounts of money to spend.

    3) Give him more money.

    4) Give him more money.

    (Okay, 4 fold)

    And if you do this year after year after year, as did Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City you have a chance. In fact they still do.

    Okay, United have been struggling, even with mega spending, but they will get back. And take it from me they wont get back by not spending. They will get back by continuing to spend, but this time with the right manager, buying the right players. One thing is absolutely certain, it doesn’t matter how good this new manager of theirs is, he wont win the PL without matching the spending of Chelsea and Man City.

    Of course every new member of this ‘Bottomless pit of money’ club finds it more difficult because there’s already the 3 founding members to deal with, who are now completely established and trading Rolls Royces as mere baubles.

    You may even do things pretty well. Get a good manager. Give him the money. Stick with the manger, and still only scrape into 4th. Given how Liverpool have risen like Phoenix from the flames under the expert guidance of Klopp you may even fail to achieve top 4.

    What this says to me is that we are already near saturation point when it comes to mega spenders in the Premier League.

    I know that there is a bigger picture than simply Premiership performance when it comes to these investors. It’s all about the elite Global sporting portfolios they are assembling and the kudos that brings, but there’s very little Kudos in spending Billions and effectively failing. So success is ultimately an essential element. The problem is the more members of the club you have means an ever decreasing chance of a return on your investment.

    Even the mega mega rich are going to think twice before joining a very expensive club that offers very little in reward simply because the existing members have got it all stitched up.

    Will Newcastle be the last?

  3. I went down the pub tonight to watch football and spoke to numerous people. None were Gooners. Several were Liverpool fans, three Chelsea fans, a couple of Man U fans, random others and the landlord who isn’t in to football. Every single one of them saw the assault on Tomy’s face by an Everton boot as a 100% red card….funny that, I’m still waiting to hear from the PGMO on their extraordinary failure to implement their own rules correctly or explain and apologise for why they didn’t. Morally bankrupt………..and yes “bankrupt” is North London rhyming slang for that bunch of crooks!

  4. Don’t know that one Mikey ,
    Born and bred in Kentish Town but moved out a long time ago and all slang definitions move on . Bankrupt to me refers to Carey Street but they moved the courts from there in the 70’s I believe.

  5. @ Porter

    I moved out of London many years ago too. I made that one up…I just thought “morally bankrupt” and “corrupt” went perfectly together!!

  6. Referee appointment aside it was a blatant penalty. Nothing controversial about the actual decision. As for the Everton match and the Godfrey incident , yes it looked a sending off but those two disallowed goals were equally as bad but not much mention on here?

  7. Rob25

    Firstly I don’t think hardly a single person has contested the penalty.

    Secondly, how were 2 offsides equally as bad? Or have you changed the rules to the effect that being ‘just’ offside isn’t actually offside.

    Please explain.

  8. Seriously, they were so marginal they should have stood. So to not mention them but just the Godfrey incident whilst complaining about alleged referee bias is pretty selective to say the least?

Comments are closed.