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Premier League Betting and Odds

Premier League refereeing is going to be reformed, but it still won’t help

By Tony Attwood

One day ago we ran the headline: How the Leeds situation proves that Halsey’s attack on Riley is right: PGMO has gone wrong.    

In this article, we complained about

1: Lack of oversight of PGMO by an independent body that is not part of the current cosy football world.

2: Unwillingness of the media in general to consider that there might be anything wrong.

3.  The lack of examination of the psychological bias issue that results in home team advantage when there is a crowd present.  The article Home advantage has vanished: referee competence blown wide open gives the details.Our “PGMO has gone wrong” piece was in response to an article in the Sun recently (yes I know) which had the headline “Premier League referees struggling because chief Mike Riley and those in charge NOT giving proper coaching or education.”

And now after no articles about refereeing in English football for about ten years in the national media, we have a second within a couple of days: English football flourished after fixing its broken youth system – the hope is for the same for referees.

Two articles about refereeing not being right in the Premier League in a matter of days after 10 years of abject silence suggests someone is agitating.  Which is good.  Unless of course that agitation is bourne out of self-interest, and the compliant media is simply following a limited agenda once again. 

So Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer at the Telegraph tells us “Premier League proposal aims to not just produce best officials in world but offer a more accessible and financially viable career option.”

Which actually has nothing to do with the problem that PGMO has created and maintains.

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
Anthony Taylor 21 4 81 3.86 4
Paul Tierney 21 2 88 4.19 1
Jonathan Moss 20 4 44 2.20 4
Michael Oliver 20 3 61 3.05 6
Craig Pawson 20 2 88 4.40 5
Martin Atkinson 19 2 44 2.32 4

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. 

4 comments to Premier League refereeing is going to be reformed, but it still won’t help

  • Nitram

    So Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer at the Telegraph tells us “Premier League proposal aims to not just produce best officials in world but offer a more accessible and financially viable career option.”

    To which you say:

    “Which actually has nothing to do with the problem that PGMO has created and maintains.”

    Exactly. Because as I said in the previous article, it’s just all smoke and mirrors.

    “The only possible reason for refusing to employ more referees is because there is something fishy going on”.

    Possibly even fishier than Baldricks Apple Crumble ?

    “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.”

    Again, smoke and mirrors.

    So okay, things may change. But that doesn’t mean they’ll get any better does it, at least not for us ?

    We’ve already had ‘change’ anyway. It was called VAR and it was supposed to revolutionise refereeing, be the savior.

    How did that workout, for us especially ?

    Some people had hope back then that it would help us by leveling up the ’tilt’ we face almost every week, yet if anything it tilted the pitch even further.

    It’s just a load of huffing and puffing. It will soon die down and settle back in to the normal routine of an Arsenal players getting kicked up in the air, the referee not doing enough about it and every man and his dog berating our player for being soft.

    Oh sorry, that never went away did it ?

    All smoke and mirrors. The media have the referees just where they want them, all they’re doing is adjusting their foot.

  • Chris

    Maybe it is as I’ve been writing it for a while : IAM : Incompetent Arrogant Morons

    Being a PL referee is a job, even if partial.
    So there is an organisation hiring and a person wanting to be hired

    Now, they don’t have enough referees. The ‘Incompetence’ can be the factor : would you want to join such an organisation, showing it’s incompetence game after game, with no prospects to rise up the ladder to do WC games ? Money can be as well : not being rightly paid, and be the focal point of so much ire for peanuts ? Would you want that ?

    Just try to think about you, the reader, applying for that job : would you ?

    No need to look any further : Incompetence all accross the organisation. And the piece in the Sun just confirmed it, told by someone who was there.

  • bushido

    i bet even after 5 or 10 years we still have the same number of referees officiating in the Premier League and here at untold Tony will writes the same kind of articles and asking the same exact questions about the PGMO credibility. maybe we can hope things will change once Mike Riley is no longer in charge but i pretty much doubt it

  • mike in atlanta

    Have you noticed mike Dean is about to retire? Begs the question, where will he rock up to cause more trouble? In charge of VAR perhaps? I can’t believe the government isn’t the least bit curious about corruption in a multi-billion pound industry. If the crooks on Wall Street operated like the pigmob someone would have been arrested already.

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