So we are told that “The 20 Premier League clubs will likely discuss a firm proposal before this summer to fund what will be a new fast-track for referees and assistants – a crucial part of the game which offers an apprenticeship that is both uncertain and poorly-paid. This has been English football’s shame, the embattled, impecunious, abused officials, forced to juggle two jobs and wait the best part of ten years before they can make a living from the game.”
So that’s what’s wrong. It is just that we don’t pay them enough. And the reform, we are told, “will be overseen by the Premier League which is the only institution with the funds to implement major change.”
But hang on. What if the problem is that certain clubs benefit from the current approach – an approach which means that the same referee can oversee matches of certain clubs six or eight times in a season? That clearly won’t be looked at if the clubs are funding the reform – and certainly there is no mention of employing more referees – which is what is desperately needed.
Consider this data taken from the Premier League’s own site
|Referee||Matches||Red Cards||Yellow cards||Yellow card per match||Arsenal games|
Quite clearly over a range of around 20 games Craig Pawson gives out yellow cards at twice the rate of Jonathan Moss. Except it is even worse than that. With Oliver’s record of card giving getting very low it was suddenly rectified in the Wolverhampton v Arsenal game when he gave out seven cards in one game.
None of this proves that the referees and the whole system is biased, although that might be the conclusion we occasionally draw, after matches such as the Wolverhampton v Arsenal game. But it does show the incredible variability in the way they behave. Which is why there should be only two games per club per season handled by any individual referee.
Of course, it might be all very well that Pawson gives out twice as many cards per match as Moss, if that is equally spread around the league, but when we see just one yellow card given all game for Chelsea 2 Tottenham 0, while Arsenal 3 Aston Villa one has seven cards waved, one begins to wonder.
Maybe such variance can be avoided by better training of referees, but if that is the case then surely no club should get the same referee more than twice. There is plenty of money in the Premier League to be able to pay more referees, so why not?
The only possible reason for refusing to employ more referees is because there is something fishy going on. And so the fact that the big reform of refereeing in football will neither increase the number of referees in the league nor ensure that no team sees the same referee more than twice, really provides a big clue to the effect that there is no intention to control what is going on.
Indeed the fact that the media is being drip fed this story to ensure compliance with its approach and the non-mentioning of the variance of refereeing performance, shows that PGMO knows exactly what they are trying to hide.
Although even the Telegraph, in its “we won’t criticise PGMO nor even mention their name” article, did say that “the four referees newly-promoted this season to select group one have been assigned just 11 Premier League games between them, of which six have gone to Jarred Gillet, a former Fifa referee recruited from Australia.”
The problem is, they don’t ask why that is the case.
They do however have the decency to note that “At the last World Cup finals there was no English referee or assistant for the first time, a dire outcome for the FA and English officials.”
OK a good start but then they say, “That was the fault of the FA, and David Elleray, the referees’ department chairman and general overlord.” But once more they don’t say why or how.
But there is a final point the article makes which is telling. “The match fees for those who have given up careers, not to mention a lifetime of Sundays and bank holidays, are not commensurate with the responsibility assumed. As for the comparison with those with whom they share the pitch, most of the players would pay their chauffeurs more.”
Indeed. One way to ensure there is a temptation to take a bribe, is not to pay your staff enough.
Arsenal Day by Day in History: 25 March 1932: 3 games in 4 days, second in the league, into the FA Cup final
Day by Day: the videos – An Arsenal video for (almost) every day of the year in order.
Day by Day: the stories– a key moment in Arsenal and footballing history for each day of the year
Arsenal in March – all the anniversaries day by day
The Arsenal videos: club by club