There are howls of anguish and concern by a very small minority on Twitter. The protagonists tweet and retweet each other in the hope of gaining some traction. They are outraged that UniteForVar (UFV), and this blogger in particular, have committed a most grievous sin, which is to publish week-in, week out evidence of PGMOL incompetence and bias.
UFV’s great crime is exposing the truth. Unlike the good and the great in mainstream and social media, we make great effort to study and analyze publicly available Premier League data and then to publish evidence showing how the PGMOL apply the laws of football in a selective, biased manner.
The principal crime of UFV was to discover the following:
- The PGMOL inflicting a 125% increase in Penalties-Against Arsenal in the 10 –year period between 2007-17, the highest among the top-6 clubs, despite average league position of 3rd and having a lower Goals-Against than City (who were just coming into their own after a sustained massive transfer spend by Sheik Mansour) as well as Liverpool and Tottenham. By the way, up to 2017, the latter two were consistently outperformed in the Premier League by AFC.
- The Disappearing Red Card over the past three seasons as the PGMOL refuses to caution players with a second yellow for committing Reckless and Dangerous infringements of the laws of football.
But lo and behold UFV is not alone. There are similar co-conspirators in high places, fellow tin-foil hat wearers who make similar accusations of referee incompetence and bias who apparently must be exposed and subject to the mob outrage of Twitter, if the accusers get their way.
The Refs Are Unaccountable
Chief among them is Arsene Wenger, then Arsenal manager, who on December 31, 2017, after his team was deprived of three hard-earned points against West Bromich Albion due to a blatantly erroneous penalty call by Mike Dean, made the following observation:
“I’m angry because we have seen the same things again and again and I said down there that we have fought very hard for the referees to become professional many years ago with David Dein and we did a good job to allow them to become professional and I see no improvement. At the end of the day there are two countries in Europe where there are professional referees, in Italy and in England, but not one English referee will go to the World Cup, but everything is alright. We cannot say a word against because they are untouchable, it is the case and the truth as well, it is a reason for it. It’s not only me who judges them.” Source: Arsenal.com (Click the link for the video)
Joining the conspiracy was none other than Mark Halsey, former PGMOL senior referee, who in his newspaper column did what UFV does, which is to speak the truth about the referees:
“I would not disagree with Arsene Wenger’s scathing comments about the standard of Premier League referees.
“Having spoken to other top-flight managers, I know they feel like Arsene — the current crop are Bottom of Form
in fact, they are the poorest set of officials since Keith Hackett left as the head of referees in 2010.
“Premier League referees are making the same basic errors week in, week out. It is no surprise to me most managers are so angry due to the lack of quality and consistency of decision-making.
“I also agree with Arsene when he says referees are untouchable.
“The majority of referees have become complacent because there is no challenge to their positions.” Source: The Sun
Keith Hackett, former PGMOL head, while he is an outspoken advocate of English refereeing, is never afraid to speak his mind about the current group of referees.
Take the game on January 20th between Manchester City and Huddersfield, he observed:
Andre Marriner and his Assistant need a big kick up the rear. Sterling was clearly fouled in the penalty area. Easy PK to award. PGMOL change your tactics with Assistants. This should have been flagged not discussed over the Comms kit.
— KEITH HACKETT (@HACKETTREF) January 20, 2019
On January 24th, UFV asked Mr. Hackett a very direct question:
I hope @HACKETTREF will agree with me; no VAR, no transparency. PGMOL will continue its dodgy refereeing with no accountability.
— UniteforVAR (@unite4var) January 24, 2019
He graciously responded that same day:
I do and the accountability that I put in place which resulted in suspension, demotion and one ref fired focussed refs attention.
I also spoke to the media, visited clubs, talked to players etc. Because I was also accountable to all the stakeholders in the game
— KEITH HACKETT (@HACKETTREF) January 24, 2019
None of UFV’s co-conspirators went as far as to declare the PGMOL biased. But they sure emphasized lack of accountability and poor decision-making. Seems to us it is a case of; “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and squawks like a duck….”
Unlike the managers in the PL, whom Mark Halsey declares are afraid to speak their minds (the financial penalties are substantial as Arsene Wenger can attest after his December 31st news conference), we at UFV can speak freely about the PGMOL; they are biased and we have the evidence.
The onus is now on those prosecuting UFV as heretics and tin foil-hat wearers to proof otherwise. No doubt, the more we hit the target, those who once ignored our work have no choice but to return fire, feeble as it is.
Bombs away, baby!
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