4 IDEAS TO REBOOT PGMOL (LONG READ)

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.

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!

957 Comments
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GD4

Arteta please please no more Eddie.
Let Trossard fill in for Jesus please

LoveSausage

Brilliant timing on the run and pass from Saka.

Vickingz

Dunno why coaches can’t see that this part of martinelli’s game needs improvement. Just play with your head raised. Good goal btw

Dissenter

PGMOL will probably check that goal for 2 mins

salparadisenyc

Excellent ball from Jorginho to Saka.
Opens this game all up.

TheLegendaryDB10

Yes!!!!!

Well done, Trossard!!!

GD4

We are literally flowing like the rapids in a hurricane

raptora

Jorginho’s pass is world class.

Useroz

That’s more fucking like it.

Fast, sharp passing, not left right center stuff. Seville will be pulled apart….

Martinelli is on 🔥

Ernest Reed

Hey, let’s give Kai a break. After all, Nigel is willing to give him two years to come good, don’t ya know?

Someone called him the Village Idiot, can’t for the life of me imagine why???

TheLegendaryDB10

When we play quick 1 touch football, we do massive damage.

Why can’t we pass a little faster and try and get our goals like this?

MidwestGun

Goal was coming we beating their fullbacks, repeatedly.

Vickingz

Eddie scores that as well please

Goobergooner

Jorgi pass was unreal. Would he be able to play those balls from rice’s position? Or needs to have that space

Chris

Fabulous goal and I want to see more like it.

Jorginho showing his class.

GD4

“ Jorginho’s pass is world class.”
Huh?
You’re kidding right LMAO easy dude lol

Un

Fuck ne that’s some pass
Martinelli and trossard coming to life gives Saka room to breathe
That’s why you cannot play Eddie and martinelli
Eddie kills his game
Enough with the Eddie charity minutes now
If Jesus is injured it’s got to be trossard or Havertz up front

Logie Bear

Rotational fouling from Sevilla is getting on my nerves !

raptora

Marti is making them look like Sunday league players haha

Useroz

Hahaha

Martinelli did a football gymnastics 3x 360 turns on the same spot

Lol

salparadisenyc

Hero play from Martinelli tonight.

MidwestGun

haha Marti is going full Brazilian today.. magic feet.

Left Testicle

Havertz just doesn’t fit into this team. It’s so obvious.

TheLegendaryDB10

Wow

Marti literally toying with that Sevilla player.

More of this please!!!

Goobergooner

Havertz please just do something, anything, to not look completely useless

Jj

A big NO to comparing raya to hobbits.
You wouldn’t like him to protect your ring with them flappy hands, would you? Unless you like it wide opened, then it’s a story for completely different blog.

LoveSausage

This Kike guy gives me Mustafi vibes with his decision making.

GD4

Sixth foul on Saka and no yellow still

Dissenter

The referee forgot his cards in the dressing room
Doesn’t he have a digital card

Goobergooner

Gd4, it’s such an easy pass from jorgi and you still wouldn’t even be able to pull it off

Chris

Trossard played false 9/central for a few games last season and was fantastic and we still looked very dangerous as a team.

I would favour this approach going forward over Eddie starting. It seems to benefit the team more overall.

Left Testicle

This would be even more enjoyable if Odegaard was in for Havertz.

Chris

We’ve been far more of an attacking threat so far tonight I meant to say, than we have recently

GD4

This is the kind of wing play we’ve been asking for.
Wide men taking on and beating their man one vs one.
Beautiful so far but we need more goals

MidwestGun

Look at Saliba dude just brushes them aside and gets the ball back.. so good.

Useroz

Alonso’s tactics works out almost perfectly….that is asking his players trying so v hard not to cross the halfway line…

GD4

“ Gd4, it’s such an easy pass from jorgi and you still wouldn’t even be able to pull it off”

Goob,
Hate to make you cry but every player on the Arsenal u18 team can pull it off. Good pass, nothing special when given time and space

TheLegendaryDB10

I’d rather we left the ref in the dressing room.

The cards would probably do a better job than the ref.

At least they would show themselves when required.

Goobergooner

Saliba is going to be the absolute best CB very very soon

Dissenter

Saliba eats up pacy forwards for breakfast

GD4

Don’t wanna pick on him cuz he’s been electric but Martinelli still makes very questionable decisions on the fly

Spanishdave

Don’t slow it down keep the tempo high

Dissenter

I think Vierra may have been better for this game
Playing at home … he’s got to get some chances

Chris

Sevilla have won 2 out of 17 CL games. Yikes.

Anyone would think they aim to finish 3rd in their group to win the EL

raptora

Marti is having a special game.

Goobergooner

Haha Chris that’s funny

MidwestGun

Wow… Marti is on fire.. thought he was gonna chip that in.

Left Testicle

Juanlu is Martinelli’s bitch tonight.

GD4

Damn Martinelli is pulling out all the party tricks

Useroz

Jorginhos pass was good/great but we’d be attempting way more of these thru balls anyway…. that’s the creativity that’s been lacking this season.

Even Ben White did some last season..Need to rediscover the how asap!

Goobergooner

Yeah that flick by Marti, juanlu is going home to have a good old cry after this

Dissenter

Martinelli is having lots of joy on that side

Vickingz

@GD4, I wish these coaches would work on him, he’d be a world class player but not the way he’s been playing since we bought him and it shows that these coaches are mostly charlatans because how can you look at martinelli and not see a potential world class player if this part of his game could be sorted. Again and again, he’s showing to be an all brawn no brain kinda player

LoveSausage

Martinelli looks bright but he really needs to work on his final ball. That’s the one area where he’s miles behind Saka.

Useroz

Agreed we must not slow down… worse case stays 1 mil and we’d be thru 💪💪

Spanner

Havertz is deceptively slow for a big man

MidwestGun

Referee needs to get out da damn way…. anyhow.. Marti…. Saka show that half.

raptora

Van Dijk is still better than Saliba.
Salah is still better than Saka.
Their GK is absolute top class.
Surround them with a other capable players and it’s not a surprise that they’ll be a contender this season if all goes as expected. Great gaffer as well.

Un

Gd4
Doesn’t know class when it sees it

Goobergooner

Just need Marti to loop the ball a bit more in his crossing. The box is densely packed it’s not hit our man yet.

LoveSausage

Despite all the instinctive whining here, the refereeing has mostly been very good. PGMOL could learn a thing or two about how not to ruin a game of football from this guy.

salparadisenyc

What can you say, going to have to assume this IS Havertz level.

Madhu

We miss so many good runs by our forwards it’s such a waste. One good throughball sporting the run of Saka opens up everything. Too much dwelling on the ball and not noticing the runs.

Ben D

The amount of control we have in games these days is insane. We just need to speed up the passing abd movement in the final third like we did briefly that half, and teams can’t cope

Dissenter

It’s refreshing once again to see a half of football with one minute added time

LoveSausage

raptora,

Agreed that Salah is better than Saka but there’s no way I’d take VVD over Saliba even if they were the same age. Big Bill is the best CB in the league.

Thierry Martinelli

Good first 1/2 and dare I say good officiating. Yes there might be at least one yellow card that could’ve gone to Seville but overall, a good show

Habesha Gooner

We should have scored more in that half. We had so many chances to put the ball in and the final ball was not great. Martinelli has his fullback on toast. Just needs that end product. We need to kill the game off at the start of the 2nd half

Zomber

I got it! Havertz is learning his trade from Xhaka movies. The only problem is that he only has seen the early episodes this far. He will come good after watching the final season of the Xhaka series

Markymark

Good to see confidence of our good base of skill set being maintained!

Dissenter

LS
“Despite all the instinctive whining here, the refereeing has mostly been very good. PGMOL could learn a thing or two about how not to ruin a game of football from this guy.”

No he hasn’t
Allowing players to repeatedly cynically foul in open view isn’t good officiating

Rich

Complete control, need to put this to bed though.

Brilliant goal, Saka has been brilliant, and Martinelli electric.

Remember when Pierre used to call Martinelli an overrated head down merchant, and wrote essay after essay assuring us that he couldn’t dribble?..

allezkev

Saliba is just so good.

Ben D

Not sure they had an attempt at our goal in that half

MidwestGun

I thought the referee was good.. Just keeps standing in our passing lanes. Maybe he refs a slower league.

Benjamin

It’s refreshing once again to see a half of football with one minute added time

It’s refreshing to see a competent ref!

Markymark

FC Copenhagen beautiful 🤩

salparadisenyc

Quality half but shame we didn’t find another as we know Sevilla will find a goal. Raya hasn’t been challenged but he will.

Habesha Gooner

We still could do with some fluidity. If we have enough runners and we pass it quicker, we can find the gaps to score

LoveSausage

Dissenter,

You can always find things to whine about. Maybe he missed one booking. By the standards of PL refereeing, that’s hardly a disaster.

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as a yellow card for “rotational fouling” according to the laws of the game. Each foul either is a bookable offense or it isn’t. One of the reasons why PGMOL refs are so useless is that they don’t stick to the rule book and try to officiate games based on “common sense” which, surprise surprise, often isn’t very sensible.

rollen

Saliba is by far the best CB in PL.
Looserpool manager is just so much better. Salah at 21 was not as good as Saka.

Markymark

So what will Gary Neville say about this? Gonna luv his comments on this

Rich

Anyone seen what’s going on in the United game lol

allezkev

Mancs winning 2-0, now 2-2, down to 10 men

MidwestGun

Are Man U down to 10 men? must be a good ref there too.

Habesha Gooner

Lol United.

GD4

“ Gd4
Doesn’t know class when it sees it”

Simple things tickle simple minds like yours .. stick to the game and stop chasing posters

ManUre doing a Spursy 😂

GD4

“ Mancs winning 2-0, now 2-2, down to 10 men”

Oh snap.
Great news

LoveSausage

Kate Abdo needs a raise for having to spend time in a studio with Carragher and Richards. The two biggest clowns in football.

GD4

Rashy needs a new club.
It’s not gonna end well for him at United

Habesha Gooner

I actually don’t mind Richards. He isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he makes things lighter and funnier. Being serious all the time isn’t for me.

Goobergooner

I have the weirdest broadcast of just the half time stadium, no commentary or anything haha.

GD4

“ @GD4, I wish these coaches would work on him, he’d be a world class player but not the way he’s been playing since we bought him and it shows that these coaches are mostly charlatans because how can you look at martinelli and not see a potential world class player if this part of his game could be sorted. Again and again, he’s showing to be an all brawn no brain kinda player”

@Vickingz,

Couldn’t say it any better and I don’t understand why the supposed work on the training ground hasn’t translated to the game with him.

LoveSausage

Habesha,

I’m fine with humor but that guy should come with volume controls.

Left Testicle

Rashford off. Couldn’t have happened to a bigger douchebag.

GD4

“ Van Dijk is still better than Saliba.”

Raptora it’s an opinion thing but VVD is living on a lotta past glory. I’d take. Willow over him

Freddie Ljungberg

Looks so much more fluid with a proper technical footballer up top.

Martinelli has been electric and is violating that right back, shame he hasn’t got an assist yet for his trouble but that box has been packed with Sevilla players every time, need to get him the ball quicker.

Rich

Hope that sub is just tactical or pre-planned.

MidwestGun

Goober ya a lot of streaming services do that now… at halftime. If they have a lot of games and no analysts.. Espn + is famous for that.