We’ve said for a long time that PGMOL isn’t fit for purpose and referees in our country, for a variety of reasons, are not up to the standard.
Some basics have had my alarm bells ringing for a long time.
- They are predominantly from the North of England (37%) with 0% from London
- They are all English – I flag this because football teams have a diverse range of nationalities – why? Because they are picking from the best.
- Up until last week, they were all white
- The only severe accountability for poor performance has been one firing. For perspective, 17 Premier League managers were sacked last year.
If you were to build out an approach to creating a system of accountable refereeing that put a priority on performance and fairness – they way we have it right now would not cut muster.
Certain teams seem to be on the end of worse decisions, consistently
Certain referees have very disturbing patterns against certain teams
There is no consideration of regional bias when mapping referees to games
Certain managers have the ability to move refs off their games
The only consistency is the inconsistent application of the rules
So when Mike Dean goes on a podcast 3 months after giving up football and brazenly talks about not giving a decision…
“because he is a mate”
“I think I didn’t want to send him up because I didn’t want any more grief than he already had”
… questions will be asked.
There is a segment of people in media who think fans are absolutely mad for creating theories around how refs officiate – now they can all stand down, because one of the most notorious refs of the past decade just gave up the goods and told the world what we already knew – decisions aren’t based on the facts of the game, they’re wrapped in emotion.
If you can fudge a decision because you empathise with a mate, you are not a serious official. You are not above bias, you are not above partisanship, you are not above revenge, you are not mature enough to look beyond your own personal feelings of disdain towards characters you simply don’t like. That is a problem when your decisions impact lives.
One of the most famous referees in PGMOL history just admitted he took one for the team to protect a mate from grief. This gives an incredible amount of weight to the ‘not fit for purpose’ crowd. I’ve seen headlines that say ‘this will feed conspiracies’ which is amusing, because it’s not feeding anything bar the truth we all knew about.
The framing of this headline is so disappointing – it’s like the writer thinks this is a gaff that shouldn’t have happened. I disagree, I’m glad he said it, because now we have something to fix. This sort of honesty around the problem is much needed – especially as so many of the football intelligentsia have been telling normal fans they are stupid for believing that the only thing going on with refs is a touch of ‘whoopsie.’
The moment merits an external investigation. It needs a reaction. There has to be a longterm plan for how this sort of behavior is fixed. This isn’t a one-off – it’s part of a rotten culture. It is a corruption of the game, it is a sledgehammer through the window of fairness, and it’s a look inside the mindset of a group that has almost no accountability. If a Judge made decisions like this in court, they’d be removed. If an auditor made decisions based on likeability, they’d be sued. People lose their livelihoods based on these decisions and we’ve just found out they are tainted.
This cannot go unaddressed. The first action should be to hire an independent consultancy. There needs to be a root cause analysis of what the problem is and why it is getting worse.
- Understand the data
- Interview the refs
- Interview managers
- Look at the training
- Look at the processes around improvement
- Look at how discipline is dished out
- Spend time with refs in realtime
- Come back with recommendations that haven’t been influenced
Mike Dean’s comment has rocked the belief that there is fairness in the game, the severity means the investigations findings should be made public so we can see how PGMOL plan to fix them.
Will anything like that happen? No. Because Howard Webb is one of the boys. His job is to protect referees at all costs – not the integrity of the game. Until we put someone in charge who knows how to be a change agent in a rotten organization, we’ll keep seeing the decline of standards, and we’ll occasionally get snippets like this that confirm our worst fears.
Right, get on the latest podcast.