The award of a phantom penalty vs Arsenal by referee Mike Dean in the New Year’s Day match versus West Bromich Albion has generated a storm of indignation among Gooners worldwide, outraged that once again a major game-changing decision was made this season which has deprived the club of critical points needed to regain its place among the top-4 in the Premier league.
Notably the now discredited mainstream media has studiously avoided any meticulous, analysis of Dean’s decision unlike, for example, their blanket coverage whenever Jose Mourinho engages in one of his now frequent theatrics to deflect attention from his continued failure to return glory to Manchester United despite his massive and ever increasing spending on new players over the past three years. Contrary to the data I have unearthed and which is freely available, the football media, especially the broadcasters and others feeding on the PL gravy train, have no interest in revealing the rottenness at the heart of the PGMO which would give lie to their propaganda that they cover the “greatest league” in the world.
As you read, I hope to demonstrate that the PGMOL is an arrogant, unaccountable, biased body of officials that is unfit for the purpose. They are a refereeing mafia who flaunt their power to arbitrarily apply the rules of the game in favor of or against certain clubs. This is the antithesis of honesty and even-handedness that football fans expect from officials. Until the PGMOL is reformed or destroyed and a more open, transparent system of refereeing is implemented, it will remain a permanent blight on the English game that may well destroy the country’s reputation of having one of the most competitive leagues in the world.
To best understand the flagrant, unapologetic bias of the refereeing mafia, go no further than the 2004-05 season when Arsenal met Manchester United in what was billed as “Game 50” in the then unbeaten run of the Gunners. The match was officiated by none other than the current leader of the PGMOL, the notorious Mike Riley. To say that Riley refereed the game in United’s favor would be a gross understatement. Wikipedia described it thus:
The match saw a series of unprofessional fouls that were overlooked by referee Mike Riley, such as Rio Ferdinand on Fredrik Ljungberg in the 19th minute and striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s studs-up challenge on Ashley Cole. Arsenal dictated much of the early play and created several openings, but as the game progressed Manchester United threatened. The home team were awarded a controversial penalty in the 73rd minute, as Wayne Rooney allegedly tumbled over Sol Campbell’s outstretched leg. Van Nistelrooy converted the penalty kick and late in the game Rooney scored for 2–0. The result ended Arsenal’s record-breaking 49-match unbeaten run. Many Arsenal fans were disgruntled, as they believed Rooney had dived and the penalty should not have been given. (Battle of the Buffett)
PS: The Wikipedia report fails to mention that Riley permitted the Neville brothers to target Jose Antonio Reyes, the Arsenal wide forward, who had been scoring goals at will, giving him the kicking of his life, until he was totally ineffective and had to be substituted while his two nemeses remained on the field unpunished.
Rather than being sanctioned for a disgraceful example of biased refereeing, shamed by the mainstream media and ultimately stripped of his license as would any member of the professions who engaged in such blatant malpractice, rather than being punished, Mike Riley was elevated two years later to the head of the PGMOL. This promotion went without protest from the Premier League or the FA which to my mind is nothing less than an endorsement. To be crowned with the lucrative, ultra-powerful role as head of the referees is apparently Riley’s reward for demonstrating his loyalty to the English football Establishment, by conducting such a blatant hatchet job on Arsenal, in one of the biggest and potentially most historic games in Premier League history. Is it any wonder therefore that the tactics employed by Riley to victimize Arsenal (overlooking professional fouls, permitting violent tackling and calling a phantom penalty) have become the tools du jour of the PGMOL as part of what they now euphemistically describe as “game management”.
After doing my research on Penalties For and Against in the Premier League between 1996 and 2016, the data demonstrated the most effective weapon used by the PGMOL against Arsenal is Penalties-Against. On January 30th last year I did a piece entitled A 206% Increase In Penalties vs Arsenal Is Proof of Bias. Among my findings were the following:
- The traditional top-four clubs in the premier league (AFC, CFC, LFC and MUFC) have the lowest Penalties-Against (PA) compared to the rest.
- During the first 10 years of the Wenger era, when Arsenal and United dominated the League, they had the lowest PA, with MUFC marginally ahead within a relatively narrow range of 0.2 goals. LFC had the highest PA which makes sense since they have been less successful in winning titles although averaging 3rd in the League.
But in the second 10-years of Wenger, which coincided with the Mike Riley reign there was a strange illogical development:
- While there was a 38% increase in penalties-against for the top 4 , not only did Arsenal experience an explosive 206% increase in PAs but the average number of penalties was higher than the average for all clubs in the premier league, 4.9 vs 4.7.
In other words, in the Mike Riley era, PGMOL referees adjudged AFC to be significantly worse than all the traditional top-four clubs in penalty-area defending. So much so that that it had been surpassed by LFC, a club whose average league position declined from 3rd in the first 10 years of Wenger to 5th in the second 10 years. During that time Arsenal’s average league position had only declined by one place, from 2nd to 3rd in the standings, but was judged to be far worse than its rival Liverpool when it came to conceding penalties. Hello!
Since I published my findings, not one single person on the internet, whether they be competing blogs, media watchers and spies who troll for potentially damaging information (trust me, they monitor this blog), none of them have disputed the facts and my conclusions. I suspect, they have concluded the best way for this evidence of clear malfeasance by the PGMOL to die a natural death is by neglect and lack of attention.
But there is more bad news dear readers. Rather than the trend stabilizing or declining, in the recently ended 2016-17 season, PAs for Arsenal took an unusual jump as the graphic below demonstrates.
In live and living color, we have the remarkable occurrence that, from one season to the next, Arsenal jumped from 1 PA to 10, from an average of 4.7 to practically double the number. I dare anyone to give a statistical justification. Is it any wonder that with so many PAs, which is proven to be a 95% probability of a goal being scored, Arsenal lost the points necessary to qualify for its traditional top-4 position.
Of course there will be insinuations that this was a mere statistical outlier and Arsenal’s PA trend is no worse than the other traditional top-4 clubs. Au contraire. Inclusive of the 2017 numbers, over the 11 year period that premierleague.com maintains this particular data, not only is AFC’s PA trending far higher than its traditional top-4 rivals but no other club has experienced such a dramatic increase year-on-year. The graphic below is self evident.
The chart is remarkable for its clarity. Since 07/08, which coincides with Riley’s promotion, there are only two seasons out of eight when Arsenal’s PA was less than all of its main rivals, i.e. 10/11 and 15/16. Moreover no other club has seen such a remarkable increase in PAs from one year to the next, a jump of 9. They all tend to trend upward or downward over time and not in sudden spurts. Moreover, none of the traditional top-4 has higher PAs for any one season. Arsenal has the record for the two highest PAs in any one season, 9 in 09/10 and 10 in 16/17. The next highest is Liverpool at 8. As most statisticians will aver once may be a coincidence, twice forms a trend.
So far this season, Arsenal is joint top-of-the-pops with Liverpool in PA, 3 is the count up to the WBA game. All its rivals sit at a measly 1 PA so far. Halfway through the season it is not looking good for Arsene Wenger and his troops. At this rate I am not convinced we will make the top-4 and return to the lucrative champions league.
While Mike Dean can act with impunity and award or deny penalties in clear contradiction to the guidelines explained to the teams at the beginning of the season (according to Petr Cech), on the other hand Wenger is to be censured and gagged for mildly criticizing the referees. He is now up on a charge of bringing the game in disrepute and will be no doubt suspended.
Yet we continue to hear loud silence from the guardians of the game, i.e. the FA, the Premier League and the mainstream media as the PGMOL acts with arrogant impunity, unaccountable and opaque. Their leader a major tilter in his days as a referee as exemplified by Game 50 yet his tenure is unquestioned.
Meanwhile disparate standards are being applied to Arsenal with adverse consequences for the club. It has been observed by many that, so far this season, major decisions by the referees have cost the club 10 points and instead of lying comfortably in 2nd place, the club struggles between 5th – 6th. Yet the PGMOL and its defenders in the football Establishment are fighting tooth and nail in the backrooms and secret hallways to have PGMOL referees make the final call when VAR is introduced in the PL next season.
Where is the outrage among the leading Arsenal fans, bloggers and tweeters? Are people under the illusion that fairness will return to the PL simply when VAR is introduced? Do some secretly hope that this continued victimization of the club will force Wenger into premature retirement, opening the way the owner to adopt the sugar-daddy model and spend billions of dollars on over-priced players and their super agents in the hope of curry favoring with the football Establishment and the media?
As is often said in politics, people deserve the government they get. Don’t we deserve an infinitely fairer, open, honest, transparent refereeing setup than the PGMOL?