by .

The debate over referees went into overdrive yesterday with the pundit class leaning in to ‘tell the peasants they aren’t allowed to speak’ on the matter of refereeing ineptitude.

Gary Neville called Arsenal and Liverpool dangerous for their statements – and had the audacity to reference his time as a player, forgetting the hold Ferguson had on referees

Jamie Carragher told us the statement was nonsense and Arsenal were bandwagon-jumping

Even Michael Owen piped up into the conversation saying Arteta was damaging the game

There are levels to this nonsense.

Howard Webb has taken over PGMOL and his big solution swing hasn’t been to change the quality of the rotten system – it’s been to get more face time with the big dogs in media. The referee association is in cahoots with the top pundits and now those guys are jumping to the defence after getting a Whatsapp message to cool the temperature after the horrendous officiating at the weekend.

Last weekend, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were telling us 6ft3 Rodri was pulled down by an arm around the waste by Hojland and it was a clear penalty.

This week, they are telling us Joelinton with a two-handed shove to the back of Gabriel wasn’t a foul.

How can we take the opinions of these guys seriously if they suffer the same consistency issues as PGMOL?

The pundit class is totally out of step with the feelings amongst the fans of all clubs this season. No fan media is out here loving on what is going on. We’re all sick to death of the desecration of the game at the hands of a group of men that are not at the top of their game. What made the defence of PGMOL all the more ridiculous was the disgraceful officiating in the Spurs/Chelsea game. It was absolutely farcical what went on. One of the most ridiculous games I’ve seen and I’ve seen some crazy things. Romero getting away with kicking out, Udogie getting away with a studs-up challenge, the most painful of VARing on multiple decisions. It was a game that summed up the authority issue bad refs have on the pitch, and the lack of technical nous going on at VAR headquarters.

The pundit class keeps telling us to stop looking back, to keep our emotions in check, and to accept that referees make mistakes – I’m sorry, that is not acceptable, we cannot normalize bad officiating.

Premier League clubs will track the mayonnaise consumption of players that burn 6000 calories a day to get a marginal gain – but they won’t address the biggest gain available to most clubs: getting refereeing decisions right.

Arsenal dropped at least 9 points last season based on shocking decisions. That’s the Premier League title. The most cost-effective and least resource-intensive way to get 9 points better off is… competence.

9 points were sacrificed because of egregious decisions last season. Why are Premier League clubs letting this slide? Well, it seems they might not be. At some point, these clubs, that pay very smart execs to solve problems, will have to get together and fix it.

Gary Neville and co like the pantomime of it. They like the debate. They like to divide fans. What they should be doing is suggesting ways to fix the problems.

There aren’t enough fresh ideas on this topic – so we just rally around conversations of injustice. Great for Sky. Not great for the game.

So here are 4 ideas.


We have a real problem with familiarity in PGMOL. Mike Dean has gone on the record to suggest that he has made decisions based on the feelings of his mate on the pitch. When you love the guy on the pitch to the extent you make bad decisions to protect them, you have a deep, deep problem you need to fix. Why does a VAR official have to be a Premier League or former Premier League referee? Let’s mix it up and take the emotion out of the game.

Let’s also think about referee diversity. One black referee in 15 years tells its own story – but the bigger issue for me is that London is represented.

This map from Reddit might not be fully updated – but it tells a story.

Who is the little guy in the bottom corner? That’s Jarred Gillet. Australia has more representation than London.

Like any country, there is regional divide. If you were going to serve up a model for fair refereeing. Would you look at that map and feel like you’d squeeze that through a fairness committee? Majority white referees, majority Northern, no representation of London, the east, the south, or the south east?

But let’s not be so isolationist here. Why can’t we have referees from all over the world? England doesn’t have a stranglehold on the best players, so we go to other countries. We certainly don’t have a strangle on the best refs, so why not look the Europe?

Diversity brings fresh ideas, stops cliches, and puts fairness at the centre.


Referencing the above problem with Mike Dein. I don’t believe referees have a strong culture amongst them. If you are a soldier, you are incentivized to put your life on the line for your country and your fellow soldiers. If you work at Apple, you about design, design, design. If you work at Disney, you’re about putting smiles on faces. Referees do not seem to believe that making the best decision is what their role is. Mike Dean said the quiet part out loud. But we hear all sorts of justifications every single game for bad decisions.

‘Ref didn’t want to send off Romero/Udogie because it’d ruin the game’

‘He’d be brave to give a penalty at Old Trafford’

We also know there are hot buttons refs don’t want to touch.

Sending Harry Kane off because he’s an England player

Making tough decisions against managers like Mourinho or Ferguson

Referees need to work in a culture that rewards great decisions – currently, it’s clear they are not in that space. Emotion, pecking order, love for thy colleagues, disdain for certain managers/players. This isn’t me making it up, just look at past comments of refs who are on record saying these things.


Do you, the fan, know if referees have a special analyst who briefs on players before the game? I don’t. If they do, why do certain players get away with the same things game after game?

Sadio Mane with the crafty elbows

Harry Kane reversing into defenders that are challenging for high balls

Rodri with fouls high up the pitch / general shithousery

Do you, the fan, know if referees get live data counts on tactical fouls and misdemeanors? I don’t. But I doubt it. They should be getting running scores of fouls, the severity, and the likelihood that those fouls are part of a tactical plan.

Mikel Arteta will be telling his players that a keeper is hard of hearing in one ear and demanding Ben White scream in the other to disorient him at corners – and he has a team of coaches analyzing the game in real-time to tell him if a player is flagging or having a mental meltdown during the game. Why aren’t refs equipped in this arms race to know if someone is playing dirty tricks?

Even at a base level for tech – why is that world cup offside radar thing not in all Premier League stadiums? We’re still relying on some guy drawing lines on a screen.


I was absolutely disgusted to learn that Premier League referees are topping up their salaries by taking midweek trips to countries that own Premier League football clubs.

Given the context of what is going on with Barcelona right now – this type of carry-on shows you the lack of control in the system at PGMOL and it shows you the perils of having top officials on yearly salaries gazumped by two weeks worth of work of an average player.

Three issues with this:

  1. At the level of ‘this isn’t a big deal’ you could still point to the lack of focus. Referees flying off to do other jobs like freelance TV presenters shows a lack of focus when you have one of the most prestige positions in the world. Longhaul flights impact fatigue – especially in older men – fatigue impacts the ability to make good decisions
  2. At the level of ‘what the fuck, this is legal but…’ you have to say that this throws up incredibly challenging ethical questions.
    1. When someone is giving you big money – do you show deference to them?
    2. When someone is flying you out to a nothing league, you have to ask, ‘why would they do that’?
    3. When someone is taking that money, are they thinking about ‘what’s next in my career, this is a nice hotel’ and are they thinking about 1 and 2 when they are making decisions?
  3. I don’t even want to get into level 3. What I will say is you are opening yourself up to very awkward questions by allowing yourself to be paid for by countries that own football clubs.

This lack of focus on the main job says the rewards system in Premier League football isn’t enough – and at worse, it shows the weakness for more money and post-Premier League career opportunities. It is scandalous more people aren’t talking about it. We’re out here chastising fans for getting angry about bad decisions, but no one on TV has anything to say about referees opening themselves up to awkward questions because of their side hustle jobs DURING the season?


I do not care what you earn. I do not care what you think is a lot of money. I am going to say this objectively: Premier League referees do not earn enough money for what they do. If they did, they wouldn’t be flying to the Middle East midweek to collect bonus cash.

You can’t retire at 45 on a Premier League refs salary. You need to find the next job. So what is your incentive as a ref? To get noticed. To be a face. To get that column with The Daily Mail or that nice job next to Merse and the boys. Who gets those jobs? The worst of the worst. Because no one remembers the guy that gets it right most of the time.

Refs that are great should earn more money and they should be subject to stricter standards. Why?

  • They are household names for all the wrong reasons – getting abused on the street is HORRIBLE
  • They are responsible for decisions that cost front office staff their jobs, clubs up to £100m if they are relegated, and player bonuses that could mean they can’t buy an extra house in the south of France
  • The Premier League is the BIGGEST sporting export England has – our officials should be the best and if they are the best, they should be paid like the best
  • You do not want to incentivise refs to be the star of the show because they can’t afford to retire in their mid-forties

Currently, referees are paid based on tenure and literally showing up. We should rework the structure so they are rewarded based on making good decisions.

The inverse of that is if you do NOT hit the standard, you drop out of the league.

If you make the reward package of Premier League referees good enough to retire wealthy, guess what? You’ll get more people entering the talent pool. You’ll get the best people at the top of the game.

If you build your culture around great decisions and reward the best people – it means you can justify binning people that cannot hit the standard.

I don’t want to keep seeing the same cast of characters making the same shocking decisions every season. I don’t want to see bad referees put in the VAR booth to ruin my life from Stockly Park. I want to see a high-performance culture with referees. We need more Collina’s in the world, not more Mike Dean’s.

Infamy shouldn’t pay. It does at the moment. That has to change.


The solve for poor officiating isn’t hoping Gary Neville and co give permission for a better PGMOL. The solve is hoping Premier League clubs come together to demand action as a collective. We cannot allow this mediocrity to flourish and we cannot accept Howard Webb’s big idea being ‘closer ties with the big opinion masters’ at Sky Sports.

I don’t think my ideas are the best out there – but I know they would progress the game better than ‘people make mistakes’ or ‘clubs are dangerous for suggesting PGMOL does better.’

Fans deserve better, so do the players/managers: So when are the clubs going to get serious about addressing the biggest problem in the best league in the world?

Who knows…

Give me your best ideas below!

957 Responses to “4 IDEAS TO REBOOT PGMOL (LONG READ)”

Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Leftside

    Good post, the difference in Neville, Carra’s post match reporting on Spurs behaviour and what happened to us is astounding. They have zero credibility or integrity and are not to be taken seriously anymore.

    Where is the consistency?

  2. Emiratesstroller

    It beggars belief that the VAR system is so poorly managed and with such controversy. You would have thought that they would have improved the system by now!!!

    I would recommend strongly that they look at Rugby. The people who operate their system are far
    more proactive and in general get the decisions correct.

    Rugby Officials manage games in an entirely different way.

    1. The referee and officials are for a start in direct communication with each other throughout
    games. Their dialogue and explanations are discussed publically. This includes foul play, offsides
    and the scoring of tries. What is discussed is listened to by spectators and tv audience.

    2. The final arbiter is the referee for all decisions in consultation with linesman.

    3. The officials have time to reflect if they pick up a situation when they have missed an incident
    and play continues.

    4. The 80 minute clock is running throughout game and is stopped on instruction of the referee.
    when play is delayed. Unlike in football there is never controvesy about how much time is
    allowed for extra time.

  3. Markymark

    Pedro – All good points. It seems with Neville and that imbecile Owen that so much is based around rivalry in their day. They are literally fixed into that period and cannot move on. Personally I’d move them on as neither would be missed.
    Spurs , West Ham , Brighton could go batshit crazy and virtually none of the punditry class would raise a concern due to lack of aforementioned rivalry and the Arsenal Toff image that seems to grate on very very wealthy Northern pundits

  4. TeeCee

    The premise of VAR just doesn’t work! They’ve taken the definitive decision made by the man in the middle and have given it to a man in an office. It’s still one man’s decision, one man’s interpretation and it’s a massive problem that these guys are NOT impartial. By that I mean we know for a fact that friendship and loyalty to eachother is affecting decisions when on VAR duty, let alone their undoubted love/hate of certain teams/players, as we all have. When they become refs all they have to do is answer a questionnaire that includes a ‘ who do you support’ question. Do you think that always gets an honest answer? I certainly don’t!!!

  5. GoonerGrant84

    Good read that Pedro, I see a reff strike happing soon a clever way to stop all the fans and certain managers ex players pundits etc from complaining. Think about it they could basically bring the game to a standstill.

  6. Olatunde

    Officials should be made to face the media like Managers after every game to explain decisions they took during games. Refs, assistants and VAR. Video should be shown to them and they should explain why they took certain decisions.

  7. Redbearer

    Good stuff Pedro. Unfortunately I cannot see it changing because no one is challenging them to change it! We need to start a petition to introduce (as you say) a performance related system to measure good refereeing and not reward bad ones who seem to be protected for their shiteness!
    Furthermore, we should also lobby to get rid of these dickhead commentators like Neville and Carragher! The problem seems to be that they do not rate London referees and maybe it’s an elitist thing to exclude the area… something clearly isn’t right and maybe you need to look at the FA and how they are governing the game. Let’s face it they are weak in challenging clubs like Chelsea, Citeh and Newcastle with overspend and adversity, so they will be weak in other areas too. It all towers down from the top. Those in charge should be held accountable.

  8. Emiratesstroller

    There are currently TWENTY approved Premiership Referees. Most are in the age range 30s to mid
    40s. Only one is aged 50+ and that is Graham Pawaon.

    Significantly FOURTEEN come from the North of England and a further three come from Midlands.
    One is from Australia. So only TWO are coming from the South of England.

    When you consider that half of the clubs in the Premiership are today in the South it beggars belief
    that the Refereeing fraternity is not more balanced than it is.

  9. TeeCee

    There will come a time in the near future where a club sues PGMOL for loss of earnings. If a club gets relegated on the back of two or three major errors that PGMOL admit to (as they do), then I wonder if there’s a case to answer in court?
    It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the apologies from Howard Webb stop completely, because it’s an admission of guilt.

  10. David Smith

    great read.
    Does anyone know if Howard Webb appeared for his slot with Michael Owen? Would be interested to know what he said, if anything

  11. Guns of Hackney

    Still no accountability for Arsenal being utterly dreadful this season. Let’s blame the refs and VAR again.

    Ultimately, if you believe that you (the club) will be unfairly treated by a homer referee, outscore the opposition and it becomes moot. Newcastle scored more than us so beat us.

    It’s like boxing, if you think the other guy might get a favourable decision on points, knock him out and take out the question.

    Arsenal with or without bad decisions have been terrible. Slow, predictable, boring, disjointed etc etc.

    Grow up and accept it.

  12. Terraloon

    One of the reasons I gave up going to every game was VAR. Anyone with even half a brain could see it wouldn’t eliminate all controversial incidents.Allot was going to do is create more controversy

    Sports like Tennis , like Cricket and to a lesser degree Rubgy have their versions of VAR but it works in the main because the vast bulk of the calls aren’t subjective they are based on matters that are up for dispute .

    Was the ball in or out, was the ball hitting the wicket did the ball go forward and so on. Add to that the three sports I mention have natural breaks between each point, each delivery each phase of play meaning we almost ignore the time other sports take to review an issue

    For me the biggest culprit interms of facilitating controversy is TV coverage. Todays coverage replays, slows down changes angles and during that time pundits like Neville are required to fill the gap giving a view and whilst I really an not a fan of his at least he has kept up to date with the various tweaks that IFAB have introduced whereas the vast bulk and in particular ex players whose version of the laws was from yester year. To be fair that’s very much the case with supporters who inevitably think there is a bias .

    Going back to my point watch rugby and say for instance where the ref awards a penalty play continues rarely do we see a replay of the decision.

    I do feel however ES point re having a timekeeper independent of on on field official would solve many of the time issues but be prepared for a half of football to exceed the 45 minutes by some. I watched a game the other day where the first half started at 3.00pm but the 40 minute first half didn’t end until 4.05pm

    I detest Spurs with a passion and watching that game last night I don’t think the on field or come to that off field officials got anything wrong save the player that got sent off for two yellows ( can’t remember his name ) was totally out of control when he went in on Sterling

    But probably against opinion on here I think Arteta has mis read the room are VAR as have Arsenal in making that statement. The story I heard was that Atreta insisted he was supported by the club and for me the club’s statement is both half hearted and in its attempts not to offend PGMOL they have opened themselves open to ridicule

    Arteta as now is being pointed out only a few weeks ago said words suggesting you have to accept you win some you loose some. His rant , because that’s what the suggestion is on most other clubs fans sites is was about subjective decisions and whilst we all probably have a very different view to what transpired. This isn’t close to the same as the Liverpool disallowed goal

    I don’t know if any listened to both the two managers post last nights games. I thought the Spurs manager was very impressive ( and that hurts having to say that ) then Poch called out those that now have a problem with VAR and how many of those were in the vanguard calling for its introduction

    The problem with VAR is it’s run very much in accord with dictates from FIFA/UEFA . The fundamental point is the on field official has to make the decision but VAR tells them what they see wheras in Rugby it seems the TMR is asked by the on field official to have a look at what went on.

  13. Belfast Gooner

    “Let’s also think about referee diversity. One black referee in 15 years tells its own story”

    What story is that? Is there a large pool of talented black referees, sitting in the lower reaches of the game, regularly performing well, yet being overlooked or denied roles for some nefarious reason? Spell it out.

  14. Belfast Gooner

    For clarity, my point is this… It should not matter whether a referee is a man, woman, black, white, gay or straight. The only thing that should matter is their ability. People should get positions based on merit and merit alone.

    This whole diversity for the sake of diversity is a red herring. If there is a clear set of rules to follow (Laws of Association Football) the application of those rules is not going to be enhanced or degraded based on the immutable physical characteristics of the officials on the pitch. So why is it even a factor, other than for ticking arbitrary boxes or pushing political agendas?

  15. Belfast Gooner

    It’s quite clear from the decisions we have seen being made by referees, and the foul ups by the VAR officials, that the people currently in the positions are not good enough and don’t deserve to have those positions. Maybe part of the angst stems from the expectation that VAR would lead to better outcomes, which hasn’t really materialised.

    Poor officials should be replaced with officials who have a track record of accuracy and good performances. It should be competitive with the referee roster determined by who is performing well, dropping those who are not. And perhaps bar for goal line technology, they should scrap VAR altogether, restore the authority of referees on the pitch and everyone should just accept errors will be made.

  16. 1970 Gooner

    I thought only a clear and obvious error was the mandate for VAR getting involved . Why then are they interfering at such a microscopic level. For me, a sensible way forward would be for VAR to only intervene with that remit firmly in mind – so no more instances of millimeter offside calls. Also giving the ref the option of going to VAR if they feel a second opinion is necessary. I want to see more power given to the ref on the pitch because, at the moment, the VAR officials seem to be calling the shots all of the time, and it is completely wrecking the game.

  17. Markymark

    I understood from Dermott Gallagher – that the upskilling training ( oxymoron surely? ) was lead out to northwest division referees with the idea it’d be expanded all over the country. Some faceless official then decided that’s quite enough of that no need to spend more money we have a suitable cohort etc. End result was no further roll out. You are then left with a natural risk of location and friendship bias. The other issue is that with so much money in the game they should have cameras coming out of every angle . To not have suitable angles is just ridiculous

  18. Chris

    Every game is becoming about it VAR. It’s ruining the game.

    Football is too chaotic, the rules too convoluted. Video replay works better in American sports which are naturally stop start anyway.

    I would imagine most football fans wouldn’t shed a tear or object if VAR was ripped out and put in the bin.

  19. kjelli

    I respect and would trust Gary Neville to work on improvements to VAR, on behalf of every team
    in the PL. There is a level of physicality in the PL allowed over the years that makes refereeing
    stressful and difficult for any human being..

  20. Markymark

    GOH – the grow up throwaway remark could just as easily be thrown back at you. It comes all about your obsessional self loathing of the object ( Arsenal) the excited libidinal ego and the rejecting response. Basically you are still hooked up to something that brings you pain.
    Everyone has a right to call out injustice . From where I’m seeing it the fanbase is pretty united in thinking VAR is godawful and it’s our turn again for rough treatment, so called experts are quoting exceptions to laws such as elbows not being used that don’t actually exist.
    Northern pundits who go hysterical when “their” team are affected suddenly act in some stoic stiff upper lip with this is not the right behaviour. It’s absolute tosh. I give Shearer some propps here for not going down the regional bias route.
    You build Arsenal’s requirements to be virtually un achievable. When the rejection occurs ( VAR ) it fits your agenda and you can continue your cycle of failure

  21. GoonerDave

    The same TV companies who pay so much money to broadcast football are quite happy with the dodgy decisions. The outrage from disgruntled fans makes extra revenue for them.
    The foxes are guarding the hen house.

  22. Chris

    The first point about diversification of refs, well to what end is that achieved? How are refs hired now? Who are he e eat refs abroad and what happens the first time they make a glaring mistake? You’d have the English media all over it like a rash.

    Perhaps it’s right that refs need a higher salary (perception would be that’s rewarding failure at present) but I think a long term plan is needed. Why not set up academies for referees where Pedro’s point as above and more besides can be educated to budding refs who can earn more than they ever thought, or keep ex pros in the game who have played at whatever level, who have a big base line understanding of the game itself.

  23. X haka

    Blame the refs.
    Blame VAR
    Blame the PGMOL
    Blame they are not diverse or they do not come from London.

    No look inwards and blame the keeper who can’t catch a basic cross or that we didn’t score a goal in 100 minutes.

    Was the ref to blame for the West Ham result as well?

    I said it yesterday
    If the ref was bent or biased against us,

    Why didn’t he send Havertz off when he had a chance and why did he book 3 of their players immediately?

    The ref bashing has to stop as its very self destructive and allows excuses.

  24. Markymark

    Kjelli – is this post a subtle level of satire?
    I suppose there could be poacher turned game keeper use with Gary. However is inability to see two extended arms pushing downwards into a player is not a foul. His
    acceptance of not having sufficient angles and in general an attitude of always being right? I wouldn’t let him within a hundred miles of a review.

  25. Siddeeq

    PGMOL has become arrogant, think they can do anything without the development of competence.

    It is a reflection of an unhealthy society that regards distinguished individuals (like Sid on le grove) with disdain.

  26. Markymark

    I’m quite glad in a way that the Spuds manager can do no wrong at the moment and let him have his nice chats. The tactics used against Chelsea ultimately only cost 4 goals. Try that against City , Liverpool even us with everyone fit and it could have been 8. Only one way of operating will get found out. Spud supporters won’t be applauding so much if they get battered again. A team who get their defence red carded have not been set up right

  27. Goobergooner

    I despise spurs and Chelsea but that game was a shit show all about the fucking cunts watching from somewhere else who choose to decide the games for themselves. It’s a complete and utter joke at this point

  28. Pierre

    Why not just change the rule and say the ball has to touch the line not overhang it ….simple but effective way of telling if a ball is in or out.

    It opens a can of worms with this non conclusive bullshit about the ball overhanging the line , what happens when the linesman puts his flag up for a throw in and he can’t be sure if it’s in or out due to “overhanging.

    I can guarantee you that every linesman that has ever put his flag up for a ball out of play didn’t take into consideration ” overhanging “, if it was over the line then the flag went up and it has never been questioned in all the time I have been watching football

    This focus on ” overhanging ” for the newcastle goal is just a feeble and pathetic excuse to find a reason why the goal should be given, “overhanging ” has never been mentioned before for the ball going out of play.

  29. Pierre

    Let’s be honest, Havertz could have been sent off and he probably would have been if the ref hadn’t let dan burns get away with chopping saka down at least twice without a card prior to the Havertz challenge.

    Also let’s be honest and say that Bruno could have been sent off possibly 2 or 3 times in the game , Gordon clattered Eddie whilst on a yellow that should have resulted in a 2nd yellow and the Newcastle right back did Martinelli with a knee high challenge in the closing stages that was definitely worse than the Havertz challenge..

    The Havertz challenge was theonly Arsenal misdemeanor in the game which I find amazing self constraint considering the way Newcastle were allowed to get away with murder ..

  30. X haka


    What refs would those clubs have used had they got their foul super league?

    PGMOL ones? or got them out of fresh air?

    Refs are shit, always have been.

    Get over it and focus on what you can control and what you can not.

    We are the new ‘Pool

  31. englandsbest

    Brilliant post from Pedro. The officiating is not fit for purpose.

    And yes, PL football is treated like show biz – and in particular by Sky. The best league in the world’? Maybe. Neville the most tedious and spiteful pundit? Definitely.

  32. Paulie

    Spurs boss only looking for more brownie points by taking the opposite view to Arteta on var, what a sickening c**t this guy is. Can’t wait until it goes wrong at spurs then we’ll see the real Mr ass lick popular

  33. Jj

    Grow up and accept the fact you’re an idiot and stop posting, as everyone knows you don’t even watch games, cause you’re taking your imagined kids to fireworks

  34. Ernest Reed

    Interesting reading and I take away a few points from it.

    1. VAR is making the game unwatchable; the standard of refereeing is not ideal but at least games flowed before VAR and refereeing was, for the most part, tolerable.

    2. Bringing a progressive viewpoint on the lack of racial equality to the conversation is baseless. If there are qualified candidates, they would be officiating.

    3. Arsenals level of fluidity and play is noticeably worse and the fact that the club struggled to gain a foothold over an otherwise inferior Newcastle, should have been the talking point.

    4. Arteta is fast becoming a pariah with his infantile behaviour. He does himself and certainly not his club any favours with it. If you want to be taken seriously then it starts with rational behaviour.

  35. Zomber

    These are good ideas, but I would make one step beyond: why consider refs as compsers, when they are more like DJs at best. One major change should be reducing their responsibility. There are all the talks about AI evereywhere, when refs jobs should be one of the first on the list of early adaptors. First create a tech where the ref can decide in 10 seconds! and force him to explain himself if does not accept the proposal from tech. Of course it means the VAR ref position should be made obsolete first. At least regarding everything related to lines. Then AI should be taught what a serious foul, tactical foul looks like. And forgot all subjective things. We will accept if AI makes the same mistakes, and of course it can learn from those mistakes. Refs cannot, bevause they are proud…

  36. Dissenter

    Your list is incomplete and just buys into the conspiracy theories which are impossible to prove
    Conspiracy theories are what you deploy if you want be believed, not because you want to solve the problem.
    Sure, why don’t we add another half dozen London based referees to the mix but what difference would it make if they are just as incompetent and working under the same failed parameters .

  37. Ernest Reed

    Let’s not bring AI into the game, Zomber. I can tolerate human error, but the game will become totally unwatchable with stoppages for every little thing. AI works on predictive analysis and needs billions of events to fine tune itself (Machine Learning).

    I’d rather not, football is a game played by humans, not machines. If I want AI then I would buy FIFA EA Sports.

  38. Dissenter

    It’s the premier league clubs that meet to determine what VAR should look like. They are the ones who chose to be conservative about its applications.
    The only way it gets fixed is when all the premier league clubs meet and define the parameters for what VAR is supposed to do.
    One club releasing the odd statement, here and there is just a joke. The club had to back 100% Arteta because he had to say what he said on Saturday… and they did just that.Premier league clubs chose not to go all out on VAR, they selected certain bits of VAR and declined to use other important bits. The rejected or didn’t push for the balls with chips in them and semi-automated offside.
    They opted to not have more cameras on the pitches. The CL and the last World Cup had 42 cameras per game, including 12 dedicated optical tracking cameras. The biggest Premier league games have only 30 cameras. Are you telling me the wealthiest league in the world can’t do better.
    Anyone who’s seen La Liga games lately will notice the unique camera views they’ve designed, they even have drone cameras included in the live presentations.The premier league is too conservative in how they applied VAR and are paying the price for it. They left too much of it in the subjective judgments of incompetent officials.
    The premier league is not innovative enough in the broadcasting. It’s unacceptable that camera views can’t be available to see key developments on the field. They need to fix that quickly, not in 2027….which is what will end up happening.

  39. Emiratesstroller

    Ernest Reed

    Yes I agree VAR as it is currently operating in Premiership is complete nonsense.

    As I posted earlier the decision making in Premiership Rugby. is carried out by the Referee and not
    the VAR. VAR is the eyes and pick out offsides, tries and disciplinary matters which have not been
    seen by the referee . In all such situations the incident is identified by VAR and then put up on the
    screen for Referee to make a judgment.

  40. Dissenter

    Also unfortunately, drama sells games
    No one remembers a bruising game in Newcastle unless there was more drama attached to it .
    The broadcasters love this, it brings in money …and so the league won’t be motivated to make changes

  41. G

    ‘’ Still no accountability for Arsenal being utterly dreadful this season. Let’s blame the refs and VAR again.‘’

    Yeh 3 points off the top.. it’s a disgrace

  42. Dissenter

    ‘ 2. Bringing a progressive viewpoint on the lack of racial equality to the conversation is baseless. If there are qualified candidates, they would be officiating.’

    This standard ought to apply to the geographical bias too
    If there are qualified candidates from the London area or north London, they would be officiating. The UK has anti discrimination laws that preclude PGMOL from using such bias in selecting referees< surely.

    We need to be champing for a meritocracy
    They also need to be lying these elite referees a lot more. They have to maintain the same fitness as the players and their skill set is hard to find. They shouldn’t have to moonlight in the UAE/Saudi.

  43. GD4

    How come VAR is never an issue during the World Cup?
    Why can’t they simply adopt the same standards and protocols.
    The officiating lads are just being stupid and stubborn.
    Don’t feel sorry for them creating their own problems

  44. Dissenter

    PGMOL doesn’t decide what parameters are used for VAR
    It.s the premier league clubs themselves. They are the ones who typically get very conservative once it comes to VAR. They’ve been cherry picking what to uses and what to ignore or slow down its implementation.
    Why are the offside cameras only facing one direction … in 2023, for starters

  45. Ernest Reed

    Agreed Emiratesstroller. The Rugby VAR system is efficient and well thought out. VAR under the PGMOL is without structure and cohesion, it looks more a make-it-up-as-we-go-along product. They need help and going outside to get it is a very good idea – solid observation Emirates.

  46. Terraloon

    Sorry but some of you really are losing the plot.when it comes to the standard of refs. If that’s easy why aren’t there queue around block to be refs or come to that why if it’s easy why don’t ex footballers want to be even close to the role?

    The fact that so many decisions are subjective will inevitably lead to debate most applying their own bias when viewing an incident.

    I can remember back in the day the chant “ Your a bas**rd referee “ that wasn’t because of love it’s because that section of the crowd believed they were being cheated. Nothings changed

    VAR isn’t fit for purpose of that’s no doubt but that basically stems from the subjective nature of the laws. Unfortunately over the years in trying to clear up matters IFAB have complicated matters beyond belief.
    For instance handball has to be considered deliberate to be an offence but big like Animal Farm not all hand balls are equal. For instance Sterling last night had a goal chalked off but was that a deliberate handball?
    Or how about offside . You can be is an offside position but not offside . Is the player active or not. Used to be if you were in an offside position that was it but now it’s also subjective.
    In the day you could clear out a player but as long as you won the ball that was your get out of jail card. Now the officials have to factor in levels of force, was it reckless or even was the player out of control
    If anyone thinks that other leagues around the world aren’t without controversy then they are being naive
    So to the point about diversity amongst refs well save the likes of Africa very very few refs primarily in the European leagues but to be honest most confederations both male and female, show a total lack of diversity
    So why are their so many PL refs from the north ? In the South Rugby if far bigger than it is in the North yes partly because of Rugby league but most of the clubs in the top three divisions of rugby are located in the south many of those particularly who choose to be refs are treated differently by the sport itself and protected by the rules. Football at local level is out of control.
    Way over 99% of match officials in football are not professional so again there really isn’t a lot of incentive to ditch your career to go to the very top . Factor in that in the south are better than vast swathes of the rest of the UK. Particularly in the north where the bulk of County Federations and member clubs are located
    I live in the South one of my colleagues was a part time EFL ref. based in Peterbourgh.. He had the opportunity to take promotion and be charge of PL games . He was 4th official on a couple of occasions but he decided that financially it wasn’t worth while but more to the point he couldn’t justify want to be subjected to the abuse and separation that from family that would have been required and that’s before the requirements of VAR are added in

  47. Un

    Gimme jackson all day over Eddie
    Holds the ball well
    Runs off the shoulder
    Occupies inside and outside the box
    Creates space deep or in the box
    Scored a hat trick under pressure against the team leading the league
    Great little purchase that from the chavs I have to say
    I’ve been impressed with him all season but now goals are coming
    We won’t be able to shift Eddie over there any more now by the looks of it

  48. kofi

    at the end of the day football is a game with rules that were built dozens of years ago. now with our technology we should consider changing rules to use them in th best way:

    chipping players boots an change the offside rule accordingly – instant decision-making without delay
    chipping balls – same for out if play. probably if necessary change the rule from ‘full diameter’ to ‘just’ touch or similar to increase efficiency and clarity
    define rules based on health data and experience – two footed challenges are unnecessary and dangerous – send them off.
    define the rules according the action of the attacker, not the receiver – how often does anyone hear ‘he jumped and didn’t get touched’. you shouldn’t be arguing that a player is fast and intelligent enough to avoid injury because a stupid challenge flies in

    I for one see a clear rule regarding handball – I may not like it but it used to be subjective (active movement towards ball) and now leans heavily objective. this should be considered in the rules as well, because I don’t want to hear fucking neville tell me that joelinton’s push was not enough – state the rule clear -> hands on shoulder/back is a foul full stop. watching somehting in slow mo as VAR does will automatically reduce the perceived force so this whole bullshit about ‘enough contact’ or the like must be solved by simply clarifying the rules

    besides that, change personal as they are awful

  49. Positive pete

    Gunz.Haven’t got around to checking prev posts.But queried the fact of why you are here,bearing in mind what you’ve stated previously?surely there’s a better use of your valuable time? No?unless you enjoy spouting verbal diarrhoea? Answer on a postcard,please from somewhere on the other side of the planet,preferably.

  50. kofi

    side note – nfl used to have replays for fouls (pass interference) and ended it after a season or two down to the fact that slowing down a situation does not always improve the decision making. in high speed a light touch can be enough to get someone off balance which most of the time can be judged in real time way better

  51. Terraloon


    How come VAR is never an issue during the World Cup?

    It really is.

    For instance remember the Japan goal that was given after claims to be out of play ( ironic or what) VAR was involved and to this day many believe it was out.

  52. Ernest Reed

    Don’t know about any of you but every time Mike Dean speaks, he frightens me. He’s an average person but an incredibly biased one. Objectivity is supposed to be the foundation of officiating and Mike Dean most assuredly is not that. Some of the things that he has been saying should bring refereeing into question, seriously so. If Dean behaves that way, then…

    How do you run a billion dollar enterprise with individuals who are borderline corrupt in their thinking?

    You know, as I wrote that last line, it answered itself…FIFA, that’s how.

  53. GD4

    @ Terra

    I never heard VAR being an issue at the last two world cups except for how well it worked. Not disagreeing with the one incident you’ve brought up, just don’t remember it which shows how well the process worked

  54. GD4


    I’m not gonna split hairs.
    The point I made was simple. Football has governing bodies.
    Whoever is in charge needs to adopt the VAR process that’s been a success in the World Cup and bring to the EPL. That’s all I’m saying

  55. Markymark

    Goobergunner – Chelsea could have easily been embarrassed by Spurs the point is going gung-ho with 9 players on the pitch is suicidal. If the saintly Spud boss wants to do that brilliant stuff. It’ll end in tears.
    Also they’ve had one defender sent off. So firm conversation about staying on your feet to defender number 2. Probably he gave a passionate speech at half time and well done him but another defender gets sent off.
    For everything he is being praised for I can see some real issues

  56. GD4

    “ Scored a hat trick under pressure against the team leading the league”

    Worst hype job ever.
    Dude scored late in the game against a team playing a suicidal high line while down two men. Lemme see him a score hat trick while playing 11 vs 11.

    The levels of disinformation people reach for to make a point …

  57. Positive pete

    Kofi.Great points.Change the laws/ rules to make them more decisive with no ambiguity.
    So snakes like Neville have less room for manoeuvre on his sly agendas.

  58. raptora

    Dissenter: “No one remembers a bruising game in Newcastle unless there was more drama attached to it .The broadcasters love this, it brings in money …and so the league won’t be motivated to make changes”

    Probably but I didn’t watch a single game on Sunday because my patience is running out. I’d like to think that it’s a fair game but it doesn’t look this way. I watched the circus last night though.

  59. Graham62

    Very good post.

    Here would be my solution to the problem.

    1. Simplify the system.

    Too many individuals dissecting each and every play.

    Too many voices overseeing something that could be monitored and controlled by one level headed individual.

    I hate the go back one minute scenario to see if a player was offside or had fouled someone in the build up.

    If the ref and his assistants don’t see it, don’t interfere.

    Goal celebrations are being destroyed.

    The flow of games is being destroyed.

    Most things can be seen with the naked eye, so why can’t the fourth official do more?

    It’s becoming embarrassing.

    As for Neville and Carragher, they’re becoming worse than they already were.

    Carragher shouldn’t be on TV!

  60. Un

    Ok let’s compare

    5 goals in 8 starts or
    6 goals in 10 starts in total

    5 goals in 9 starts
    Or 5 in 11 starts in total this season and 17 appearances

    Jackson is 2 years younger, with far less game time than Eddie, palying in a new team in a new country. A team that is far worse than our and has no identity. Yet he is outperforming Eddie immediately

  61. Jaroda

    Some help me with this one.
    Our premier league stats show we’ve conceded 22 shots on target, 13 saved, 9 conceded goals.
    Is it good that we’ve only conceded 22 shots in 11 games but also terrible that 41% have gone in?

  62. Un


    And 6 goals less
    Maybe if Eddie could trap a ball, turn, move and shoot to a higher standard our xg would rise
    Either way
    Their striker is outperforming ours despite ours having the advantages

  63. Guns of Hackney


    Okay okay. You got me, I didn’t take my imaginary child to fireworks…it was your wife. And she had a blast. Remember, if she’s not with you, she’s with me.

    I do watch the games occasionally and I believe the only reason some posters don’t like what I have to say is because I say the truth. We are a very boring, oddly run club.

    Do you know what our aspirations were for this season? Because I don’t. I doubt the players do and I doubt anyone does. Was it to win the league? One would have thought so based on the £200+ million spend. Was it to do well in the cups? Not sure but we’re already out of the milk cup, won’t win the CL and I can see us tanking in the FA cup because we don’t have the squad to fight on three fronts.

    You tell me what I say that’s wrong, and I’ll make my next post much better.

  64. Jaroda

    Nketiah isn’t the answer to our issues but bigging up Jackson on the back of scoring 3 (of his 5 this season) against 9-man Spurs isn’t really making a case for him being anything other than of a similar level.

  65. Un


    The idea that Eddie is a natural goal scorer and that Jesus is a creator doesn’t stack up either
    Their starts are remarkably similar in terms of shots and goals per minute only Jesus has been injured twice already and is largely playing from the wings

    We need a striker and we need a real skillful play maker like cesc or a santi or jack to break lines

  66. kofi


    shots conversion rate is an imperfect indicator as basically every sole indicator is. just think about it – would you prefer to have scored 5 goals out of 10 shots or 3 goals out of 4 shots? it depends on the number of games you played – a low number of games with a low number of shots and high conversion rate may easily distract from low attacking output while a low number of games with a higher number of shits and lower conversion rate may point to bad finishing.

    to keep a long story short – as in business never just look at one KPI, build a whole bunch of indicators that together show you a bigger picture. that’s basically what xG does, which accuracy in the long term is quite high

  67. kofi


    I see your point, however systems nowadays are too complex to simply say ‘we need a passer like cesc’. to play in position X you need a defined skillset which is broad in any position. I was perplexed yesterday how bad chelsea played against the highline with players as fast as mudryk and sterling. just play a low ball through, can’t be that hard you would guess
    playing a through ball agajnst a highline is a skill that obviously noone posseses at chelsea. but due to the fact that you nearly never see a highline like this – especially without pressure on the ball carrier – nobody has that skill. a skill that is neither required nor trained. nowadays as midfielder you need to work, run, winning your duells, being atheltic and have a certain height for headers. ball carrying is an important skill. playing the final ball is rarely necessary as you tend to go to the outside. funny enough I would argue our only player with that skill is viera

  68. Jaroda

    “Spurs with 9 were still better than Sheffield with 11.”

    I think you’ll find this says more about Chelsea’s shortcomings than Spurs 9-man brilliance.

  69. Jaroda

    Does anyone else not find it odd that Spurs were trumpeted as some kind of moral heroes for last night’s game? They literally had two players sent off for dangerous play and yet there were numerous references and reports to how proud the fans and manager were of the performance? Spurs do get some weird love from the media.

  70. Un


    Not just against high line but a technical leader hei can open teams from deep or against deep lying packed defence
    I do t think we shoot enough from long range personally and I don’t think we attempt to dribble enough either in tight spaces
    The only players who really do successfully are Jesus and trossard and when neither of those are playing we struggle to create
    I think if you had a santi a cesc or a jack at left 8 we’d be a much more fluid team offensively and be able to open teams up with more variety and regularity
    We are too clunky right now for an arsenal side.
    Like the worst versions of chelsea over the last 20 years
    It would help if we played our better attacking players like trossard though
    You can’t expect a combination of Eddie martinelli and Havertz to produce high creativity because they are all low touch, off the ball players who like
    To hit the area looming for a chance

    Saka has no support on the right and rice and Jorginho are defensive players
    We’ve become too ultra safe

  71. Un


    Well one argument is numbers is numbers but….. I’ve watched both players play all season and Jackson’s performances have been impressive. The only thing lacking was a goal
    Eddie has been comparatively shit but has still scored a hat trick
    Albeit against one of the worst 2-3 premier league sides in 30 years
    Nothing really to brag about is it

  72. Habesha Gooner

    Gary Neville is an absolute cunt. How he is being paid to talk about football, I will never know. The bias besides the crappy punditry makes my ear bleed.

    Refs are shit. I think it boiled to that moment for Arteta on Saturday. The amount of shit decisions against us since last season, has been scandalous. He was right to call it out. He asked his players to fight. And they did. He was waiting for a quality moment to win the game when games are tight as that. Creating a lot of chances was unrealistic in that type of game. And before we could have that moment, it was taken away from us.

    These pundits talking shit against us is a good thing. It is uniting the fan base and I like siege mentality developed when the whole league is against you. It makes you fight harder, play better. Arsenal fans have been defending Arteta everywhere. And that is a great thing.

  73. LoveSausage


    These are all good points. The culture point in particular is an underrated one IMO. The current group of refs are very much a part of the punditry and media ecosystem. They think about the game in the same way as those people (e.g. “decisions that ruin the game”) and that’s a big problem.

    Refereeing will always be subjective but we should get some fresh blood in – people who haven’t been shaped by the way football was played in northern England 30 years ago and who can enforce the rules as they are today.

    It’s always striking how rarely you see these kinds of fuck ups in CL games despite the fact that the stakes are higher than in an average PL game.

  74. Jaroda

    LoveSausage. Yes correct. The noise around officiating issues in the UCL is much less despite the stakes being as high/higher. (Ovrebo/Chelsea excepted). The EPL should be reflecting more of what the UCL processes and are. I mean there are EPL ref’s doing UCL games so why is it so hard to replicate?

  75. kofi


    a valid point that pedro made is the reason ucl is way better regarding ref quality – no locational bias. arsenal plays sevilla and a guy from romania officiates that game. he may like us, he may like sevilla, he may hate one or the other but he won’t have a family deeply routed in e.g. manchester with love towards united. that isn’t a conscious decision mostly I guess, it simply happens and you can’t control it without simply putting location out of the calculation.

  76. kofi


    agreed although I am skeptical regarding our probably boring and not so nice to watch defensive record. let’s say my observation is most of the creative players tend to need and like freedom that simply does not exist in the current setup. even if we could get a peak cesc I wouldn’t be sure we would swap a 0:0 against a 3:3 which may be more entertaining …

  77. Bergkamp63

    How long have I been saying we should be paying top dollar to have the best refs from around Europe in the PL ?

    Why do we have to have English refs for the English PL ? The players aren’t all English.

    All this closed shop BS should have been stopped years ago along with the farcical game manipulation from officials on and off the pitch.

  78. Gus fring

    Yeah I’m not reading all of that but arsenal did not drop 9 points last year and lose the title to bad refeering decisions
    Jorginho martizez own goal off side Eddie blocking keeper
    Bamford goal Elland Road disallowed for no reason
    Liverpool saka offside Gabriel handball
    City game in Feb not anpen
    West ham pen saka missed not a pen
    The manchester Derby Bruno goal offside
    The brentford game where they slip had a legitimate goal disallowed
    3 points were not lost at manchester because of badv refeering even if the odeengaard foul decision was wrong [it wasn’t] plenty of time to won and not lose that game
    Rodri joelington photo comparison wrong as well one fouled after losing his marker one couldn’t make his arms disappear in a 50 50 challenge.
    Notice this blog didn’t care emery had some awful decisions go against him in his last few days at arsenal while trying to put together new signings and a young team
    If you’re going to cry about referees it can’t be done pretending arteta is victim of some great conspiracy or that hasn’t drastically benefitted from ref incompetence.

  79. X haka

    Reading all this tosh, you would have thought , Arsenal never got a dodgy decision over the years.

    Self pitying nonsense.

    The best team will always win the league, the worst 3 teams will always get relegated.

    Arteta turning into a moaning Wenger by the week.

    And the club statement was pathetic and enabling more excuses to follow.

    Its a conspiracy , lol.

  80. Marko

    The media spurs Ange love in continues meanwhile a manager who’s right to criticize a genuine mistake one of many recently is getting slaughtered right now. It’s all getting a bit much but we gotta stick to our guns and remain vocal when these guys fuck up