4 IDEAS TO REBOOT PGMOL (LONG READ)

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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.

EXPAND THE POOL OF TALENT

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.

REORIENT THE CULTURE

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.

IMPROVE THE TOOLS AND PREPARATION

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.

FOCUS THE STAFF

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?

REWARD STRUCTURE

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.

CONCLUSION

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!

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Matt

Laura woods is top drawer. Even got a great voice. She was the only reason to listen to Talksport.

Shame she’s going out with some whopper from love island. I thought she would have better taste.

salparadisenyc

Loving Sociedad hitting the knock outs well on edge, sadly going to have to chalk Zubimendi off those January lists.

Left Testicle

Any throw in’s gained or 50-50s won by Havertz we must consider that a high level performance from the level were at… which is clearly l o w.

Tom

“There is a media witch hunt against him atm so they are looking for anything to hang on him.“

Marky and Don work in the media now?!

allezkev

Arteta derangement syndrome, maybe it does exist and is alive and well in this medium?

FB

Raya is an excellent keeper.

For a hobbit.

Dissenter

Pierre
“There is a media witch hunt against him atm so they are looking for anything to hang on him.

Get off your whinny horse man
The idea that the media is after a 6ft average Spanish goalie is ridiculous
He was brought in on the premise that he was an upgrade on the current keeper- he keeps making the same type of errors his predecessor made and is yet to prove he’s worth the hassle.

The media didn’t make him flap the Willock cross, did they?

Left Testicle

Ko-lo,
Ko-lo, Ko-lo,
Ko-lo, Ko-lo,
Ko-lo, Ko-lo…

Pv4

Unfair on hobbits that. I’ve seen them play in goal, trust me , they’re great at claiming vrosses

MidwestGun

Hmm seems like Napoli killed the Bati Trifecta .. would have killed mine too to be fair.

Left Testicle

Glad we now have some half decent central defenders.
Years of Mustafi, Koscielny, Stepanovs, Senderos and Squillaci etc.

Logie Bear

Laura Woods much better than the previous presenter on TNT. And at least we don’t have to suffer Michael Owen tonight – it’s Rio Ferdinand with Keown instead.
Kolo is there tonight – looks like he could still play

Logie Bear

TNT helpfully reminding us of that awful Raya punch against the bar last time – none of that tonight please!

TheLegendaryDB10

What an interesting line-up up.

I like it. Trossard up top is interesting thing to try.

He does have some trickery in him. So let’s see what he can bring to the front line. With both Marti and Saka flanking him, it would be interesting to see whether they could try interchanging a bit to confuse Sevilla.

Habesha Gooner

Let’s go. Need to win today. If we do, qualification will be almost certain.

Jj

Unfair on hobbits that. I’ve seen them play in goal, trust me , they’re great at claiming vrosses

Hobbits saved the world, he can’t save his goal, horrible comparison it was

Left Testicle

Shame about her ‘marker pen’ eyebrows.

Matt

LT

Picky, very picky.

ADKB

Not a rhetorical question at all but can anyone who understands football better explain why Havertz keeps starting for us? I don’t get his selection!

Left Testicle

Guilty.

MidwestGun

The CHaaaaaaaampionnnnnns!!! Let’s go BOYS!!

Pv4

Any links ? 🙏

TheLegendaryDB10

Come on The Arsenal!!!!

salparadisenyc

Oh boy Kai.

Left Testicle

Havertz. 🙄

SUGA3

Breaking news: Havertz is still shit

MidwestGun

Well Kai… that was …….. ummm hard to describe… haha wow.

LoveSausage

Kai doing Kai things.

GD4

Look at that scrub Havertz missing a wide open uncontested header. Loser can’t even nod it on target

TheLegendaryDB10

Havertz can’t head a ball either. 🤦

Samesong

Havertz is good with his head

Pv4

Henri Lansbury laughed when explaining Havertz’s miss

Can’t hit a barn door with a banjo that boy. Shocking

Freddie Ljungberg

Havertz ffs.

Jeff

So, you don’t know the way to France either. Oh you have a woman’s hand! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. Havertz is getting more laughs than most stand-ups.

Pv4

Is he really a pro footballer or have we been conned like Southampton were with that fake player

Pv4

Thanks Left

Left Testicle

Havertz has the same Ozil lazy body language.

MG42

Bob
Let me help you with synonyms for nuance so you understand what you spouted out. There is nothing subtle or any minute difference to determine if Arteta is wonderful or shit. With the facts I posted he clearly is closer to being shit then being mediocre. No need to thank me, you are welcome. .

Dissenter

Saka gets isolated there
No one makes overlapping runs, Odegaard used to do that a lot

GD4

What a call by Saka.
Saliba should’ve called off Gabby

GD4

Saka never gets any love from any referee.
Two bookable fouls and no card

GD4

*ball

Dissenter

Referee is a bit shit
The Giselle is just kicking Saka, missed the ball every time
The ref has a good future with PGMOL

GD4

Cmon Rice take the shot.
Martinelli has started out hot

MidwestGun

Would love to score while we are on top here.. Marti has the look tonight.

Goobergooner

Let’s go you gunners!

So what does it look like so far, tross 9 but fluid as with havertz being able to push up.

I’m surprised no zinny

GD4

Three fouls by the same guy on Saka and still no card.
This is bull crap

Goobergooner

Yeah Marti is up for it.
Saka taken a good old beating so far. Yellow next from gudejl (?)

MidwestGun

Gudeli.. is a bit shit.. keep going at him

raptora

Martinelli is everywhere, playing like a demon possessed.

GD4

My goodness.
Sevilla are determined to break Saka

MidwestGun

At this point Saka is not gonna have any shirt left by the end of the game… torn off his back..

Goobergooner

Let’s see how long we can continue this total control

Goobergooner

Just need to get a shot or 2 going

Chris

It’s fair to say this ref is very lenient.

Our first foul will result in a yellow though no doubt.

raptora

I don’t know who was that guy wearing Saka’s shirt on Saturday, but the imposter is gone and the real one is back.

Mee

Kike Salas is a cretin

GD4

Fifth foul on Saka and no card?
It must be because of his …. Ahh never mind

allezkev

Weak referee

Dissenter

We don’t have a set piece specialist in this expensively acquired squad

LoveSausage

Saka looks up for it today. He isn’t just glued to the touchline.

Goobergooner

Gd4, come on man none of that

Logie Bear

Poor throw-in there, we often seem to go backwards from them

TheLegendaryDB10

If Saka can manage to get the Sevilla players with him inside the box and have them foul him here, this could become beneficial in getting us an easy pen.

Goobergooner

I actually love big Gabby and Saliba as a partnership. I hope they have many more years together for us

Goobergooner

Haha yeah our throw ins are a definite weak spot

Jeff

This is crap. It’s the usual. No urgency, no penetration. Just side to side, back, side to side, back. So far it’s shite.

Dissenter

The assistant is also blind

Spanishdave

We need to start shooting
Poor forward play come on Saka

TheLegendaryDB10

That is a throw in for us!!!

Unbelievable refereeing here.

Goobergooner

Yeah Diss if he can’t see that one he’s got no chance of calling anything further away correctly

Dissenter

I was expect some type of reaction from Arsenal
We are so sedate in our approach to games now

Goobergooner

Benny blanco. Pure FB shot, even if it was his weak peg

raptora

Saka got humped from behind…

GD4

Saka goes down … will VAR come through

Goobergooner

Tross despite being slightly of in his passing is at least picking up the pace

GD4

Refs hate Arsenal.

Vickingz

We play better with high tempo

TheLegendaryDB10

Saka lost ball just before getting tacked. Should this still be a pen?

TheLegendaryDB10

tackled

Useroz

Saka’s right peg was trapped by the defender. If given a soft pen but been given before.

Need to start hitting the target …

GD4

Gabby is torching that clown RB over and over again.
No one is showing in the box for the ball

Vickingz

he just wouldn’t raise his head, martinelli

Un

Trossard absolutely changes the dynamics of our attacking play for the better
So much more fluid without Eddie

salparadisenyc

So much joy for Martinelli has to eventually pay a dividend.

LoveSausage

Goober,

Yeah, Tross and Gabi M are the only players who haven’t got the memo that they’re supposed to play horse show ball.

Goobergooner

Is juanlu a corner flag in disguise?

MidwestGun

I didn’t think it was a Pk… anyhow we playing better now.. Marti pushing the pace.

Useroz

Trossard

1

Spanishdave

No confidence for final shot
Panic all the time

salparadisenyc

Can you say Deep Block?

raptora

Jeff: “This is crap. It’s the usual. No urgency, no penetration. Just side to side, back, side to side, back. So far it’s shite.”

We’ve been up for it since the very first minute. 1-0

LoveSausage

Get in!

Dissenter

Yesss

GD4

Gotta score and yes my man Tross!!!
Love this guy

MidwestGun

BOOOOOOM!!!!!! Tross the Boss!

Goobergooner

That is brilliant all round

Un

Trossard quality
Saka quality
Eddie shite

Jeff

That’s better. Pace gone up as well since my last comment. Should do it more often.

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