Clattenburg & Co living the life of Riley

Mike Riley was one of the highest profile referees of his generation. He was also one of the worst.

Man At The Top - Mike Riley is in charge of a poor crop of Premier League referees.

Man At The Top – Mike Riley is in charge of a poor crop of Premier League referees.

As the boss of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) Riley has shown himself to be an even bigger pillock & failure off the field…no mean feat.

He and his colleagues continue to plunge new depths of incompetence on a breathtaking scale week in and week out.

Yes, being a referee is a difficult job and mistakes can and do happen. They’re only human, but the abysmal standards of officiating went well beyond a joke ages ago.

Oh so wrong - Clattenburg should be publicly accountable for his controversial decisions.

Oh so wrong – Clattenburg should be publicly accountable for his controversial decisions.

Supporters at most, if not all, Premier League clubs, will readily testify that some officials are inept or, far worse, appear biased against their team.

Yes, of course it reeks of paranoia and tribalism, but that doesn’t mean referees and their assistants aren’t out to do certain clubs a disservice.

The football establishment – the FA mandarins, Premier League powerbrokers, broadcasters, commentators, pundits – are all too quick to dismiss the possibility of any impropriety, cheating or corruption when it comes to referees and ‘linesmen’.

Scandal - football is riddled with corruption - does it extend into England?

Scandal – football is riddled with corruption – does it extend into England?

We’re told it couldn’t happen here – after all – this is England, the very origins of the beautiful game, the home of football.

No, our referees are above that sort of thing. Any of that unsavoury bribery nonsense only goes on in places like Italy and Juventus – to suggest otherwise would be outrageous! Really?

Even if it didn’t involve financial favours, you’d never get referees allowing their own football proclivities to influence their handling of games – absolutely not. Why not?

Such an assertion is either naïve or disingenuous.

Ref Watch - Retired referee Dermot Gallagher analyses key decisions on Sky Sports News - would it help if referees had the same facilities during live games?

Ref Watch – Retired referee Dermot Gallagher analyses key decisions on Sky Sports News – would it help if referees had the same facilities during live games?

There’s always some rationale to explain away the dodgy penalty award, the stonewall penalty not given, the flurry of yellow cards for one team and not the other, the dubious offside calls and the blatant time-wasting going unpenalised.

We’re constantly told to give the ref the benefit of the doubt. Football at the top level is so fast nowadays, officials cannot be expected to keep up or always get the big decisions right.

The blundering inconsistencies are light years away from the times of  truly impeccable ‘men in black’ such as England’s finest Jack Taylor and, ironically and more recently, Italy’s Pierluigi Collina.

Simply the Best - PierLuigi Collini was the number one referee in the world.

Simply the Best – PierLuigi Collini was the number one referee in the world.

Of course ‘Gentleman Jack’ was never subjected to his every decision being captured under the merciless microscopic analysis of today’s wall-to-wall television coverage.

The all-seeing intrusive camera angles makes scrutinising the minutiae of every Premier League controversy so easy for muppets like Niall Quinn, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry, David James, Robbie Savage, Paul Scholes – the list is extensive – so any refereeing mistakes are polarized.

Gentleman Jack - England's Jack Taylor commanded respect during his career, culminating in him officiating the 1974 World Cup Final.

Gentleman Jack – England’s Jack Taylor commanded respect during his career, culminating in him officiating the 1974 World Cup Final.

On that score, there has to be some sympathy for referees and linesmen who only get one chance to get it right, but it needn’t be that way if instant replays were available.

It’s said football is all about opinions. Some pundits such as Manchester City’s woeful ex-manager Stuart Pearce, claim it’d detract from the game if wrong decisions were effectively nullified by technology. Psycho claims it would stifle debate.

Keep the controversy - Ex-Man City manager turned pundit Stuart Pearce doesn't want referees to have help from video technology

Keep the controversy – Ex-Man City manager turned pundit Stuart Pearce doesn’t want referees to have help from video technology.

Surely most fans would rather see their teams win or lose on merit – NOT on the dubious decisions of amateur officials masquerading as professional referees.

If getting it right means more video technology, with teams given a limited number of challenges during a match, then bring it on.

Help the Ref - Video technology is used successfully in rugby union, so why not football?

Help the Ref – Video technology is used successfully in rugby union, so why not football?

Not only would it be equitable, it would eradicate suspicions of bias. Transparency would bring greater levels of integrity to football and expose those who were either crooked or just not up to it.

It works in other sports like rugby union, tennis and cricket, so why not football?

Rarely do you see dissent directed towards rugby union referees by players or fans alike. They’re held in high regard, unlike their football counterparts.

Integrity & transparency - Rugby Union referee Nigel Owens benefits from instant replay on key issues on the pitch.

Integrity & transparency – Rugby Union referee Nigel Owens benefits from instant replay on key issues on the pitch.

Premier League referees are now full time and very well paid – something in the region of £90,000 per annum, plus expenses.

They’re also more arrogant and self important than they’ve ever been. Some such as Mark Clattenburg positively seek to cultivate a celebrity status http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3449303/Referee-Mark-Clattenburg-faces-probe-conflict-joins-agency-represent-Premier-League-players.html

Ever controversial, Clattenburg is once again in the limelight – just how he likes it – with news he has joined an agency that also represents Premier League players, including City’s own Willy Caballero.

Not accountable - Clattenburg and his colleagues should give post match media interviews.

Not accountable – Clattenburg and his colleagues should give post match media interviews.

And yet, Clattenburg, along with all his refereeing colleagues, remains unaccountable in the public arena, never required to justify their decision making.

That has to stop.

Long gone are the days when it was meritorious for the referee to be ‘invisible’ and letting the players take centre stage. 

The modern day referee revels in the public spotlight, making crucial decisions in a game – an industry – bloated by hundreds of millions of pounds of TV revenue.

Referees must be compelled to conduct media interviews after a match or the following day. They wield too much influence nowadays to enjoy the luxury of hiding behind bland utterances by Riley and PGMOL. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2902802/Refs-chief-Mike-Riley-dismisses-howlers-season-insists-referees-better-ever.html

Never a penalty - Raheem Sterling protests his innocence to controversial Clattenburg to no avail. Courtesy@MCFC

Never a penalty – Raheem Sterling protests his innocence to controversial Clattenburg to no avail. Courtesy@MCFC

Oh, how Manchester City supporters would have loved to have seen Mark Clattenburg grilled on his decision to award THAT penalty against Raheem Sterling.

Similarly, City fans would have been intrigued to hear Roger East justify why he denied the very same Sterling, a nailed on spot kick after Everton’s John Stones wiped him out in the dying seconds of the Etihad league encounter.

Stones' stonewall scandal - Referee Roger East was the only man in the world who didn't believe Raheem Sterling should have had a penalty when fouled by Everton's John Stones at the Etihad.

Stones’ stonewall scandal – Referee Roger East was the only man in the world who didn’t believe Raheem Sterling should have had a penalty when fouled by Everton’s John Stones at the Etihad.

Of course it cuts both ways. Everton fans would want answers from Martin Atkinson, as to why City’s second goal in the League Cup semi final 2nd leg was allowed to stand after the ball went out of play, before that man Sterling crossed to Kevin De Bruyne.

Post match interviews would, if nothing else, allow referees the right of reply or, in some instances, help diffuse situations by admitting an honest mistake.

Poor show - Roger East is a referee who seems to underperform on a regular basis.

Poor show – Roger East is a referee who seems to underperform on a regular basis.

The real problem would arise if they’re consistently apologising.

Sorry doesn’t have to be the hardest word, but if the same referees are saying it often enough they’d need sacking – they’d be either incompetent or bent.

The Song Remains The Same...almost -  Graham Poll is a Clattenburg critic.

The Song Remains The Same…almost – Graham Poll is a Clattenburg critic.

It’s amusing that ex-ref Graham Poll – one of the most notorious, self righteous and loathed officials in his day – is now a Daily Mail pundit, pouring scorn on the likes Clattenburg. How appropriate then that Manchester City’s outraged supporters serenaded Clattenburg with a derivation of the song that used to be reserved for Poll and went…’Oh Graham Poll he’s f*@!ing a#*ehole…’ (repeat endlessly!)

Sky Football’s Dermot Gallagher was also swift in his condemnation of Clattenburg’s bizarre and highly questionable penalty award to Spurs on Sunday.

Time to go - Riley should step down from his role at PGMOL.

Time to go – Riley should step down from his role at PGMOL.

But, back to the original point – the ‘leadership’ of Mike Riley – and the dire performances of the officials who he oversees.

It starts at the top, so it’s time for Riley to return to his chosen career of accountancy and ‘his’ members either stop cooking the books or making rank miscalculations.

 

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

 

20 Comments

  1. February 17, 2016  8:26 am by Guvnor Reply

    I know I always have a go at you Mr Walker (Read But Never Red) but I agree 100% with this article. The attitude of the referees is inexcusable, they are beyond reproach in their decisions. Clattenburg should get in his Porsche and drive away as far as possible from the beautiful game, for it is him and his cronies, that are bringing our game into disrepute. As for Mike Riley, I wouldnt give him the time of day. What an absolute pillock. They will read this article on Newsnow because as all us football fans do, we read articles on football. It would be nice if one of these two idiots would reply to this article, seeing as they don't on the TV outlets.

    • February 17, 2016  9:09 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Guvnor. Obviously Twattenburg has provoked such fury among the City fans - not for the first time and sadly probably not the last - but it applies to all the injustices stemming from incompetent - or even more sinister reasons - referee's decisions. It's nonsense when people say the right and wrong decisions balance out over the course of a season - utter tosh. They say Premier League football has 'evolved' from a sport into an industry - in what line of business, and a multi £ billion business at that, would you allow critical decisions to be taken unchallenged, especially when checks and balances could easily be introduced i.e. video technology?

      It's a farce and it stinks of wrongdoing!

  2. February 17, 2016  9:33 am by @l0ngwayfr0mh0me Reply

    Could not agree more! The number of mistakes, and the ever increasing materiality of making them, has got to lead to change. The easiest is bringing referee accountability in the same way as in rugby union; refs are mic'ed up anyway so let us hear their explanations. Couple this with a meaningful respect campaign focused on player abuse and its a win win. Eventually technology has to be brought in.

    • February 17, 2016  12:41 pm by David Walker Reply

      Couldn't agree more! Having the referees 'miked' up would be great and give players and fans an immediate insight into the decision-making process. This article was a balance between having a real pop at the incompetence, integrity and arrogance of Premier League referees, while also advocating using video technology to help genuine officials. The other upside of video replays would be that the more 'shady' officials would have no hiding place. Many thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  3. February 17, 2016  9:47 am by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Spot On Dave agree totally. The number of mistakes is growing so why shouldn't they be held accountable at the moment they seem untouchable & it wouldn't harm them to come out & say why they give or dont give decisions. Bring on the technology it works for Rugby so why not football, remember a lot said goal line technology wouldn't work. Unfortunately it wont stop Twattenburg being god like but it would make difference.

    • February 17, 2016  12:35 pm by David Walker Reply

      Rugby Union is probably the best comparison. Video playbacks - requested by the referee - don't cause undue delays. Obviously there would need to be criteria set down as to what would be included in any video playback scope e.g. what constitutes key situations e.g. penalty appeals, violent conduct or serious foul play. Offside would be a contentious area, but maybe applied where goals are actually 'scored'. That wouldn't have helped Sergio on Sunday when he was wrongly penalised on several occasions. Also, let's stick microphones on referees and only allow a team captain to proactively approach the officials. Time for football to adopt some best practices! Thanks Doug.

  4. February 17, 2016  9:52 am by Alan Baxter Reply

    Full-time, top-flight Premier League officials can earn between £70,000 and £85,000 a year. Only Premier League officials are contracted and have a salary. In any other work place, if you were earning this kind of money and committing mistakes that could potentially affect your employers position in the marketplace, what would happen? I can't see the answer being "carry on regardless". It's definitely time to introduce those "checks and balances" you mention.

    • February 17, 2016  12:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely right Alan. We're forever being told that top flight football is now a business rather than a sport. If that's the case then it's high time football adopts appropriate measures to restore integrity in the way it conducts itself. I for one, do actually believe something underhand is going on somewhere within the English game, something that transcends incompetent officiating, or includes dodgy decisions as an integral element. It happens far too often to be human error. If I am wrong, then PGMOL should be disbanded as it is clearly not fit for purpose. Thanks for commenting.

  5. February 17, 2016  10:19 am by Fred Nelson Reply

    Wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed in your article, Dave. My blood has just come down from the boiling high of the weekend. The first rule of awarding any penalty, surely, is that you have seen the incident. Time and again, Clattenburg guesses, wrongly, without fear of censure or any shred of accountability. That, in no small part, is Riley's doing. Professional referees? Laughable!

    • February 17, 2016  12:16 pm by David Walker Reply

      Your feedback is greatly appreciated Fred. Obviously all City fans feel raw anger towards the hateful Clattenburg, but his extraordinarily dubious awarding of the penalty against Sterling was a prime example of why it's time for video replays on key decisions where any ambiguity exists. Ironically there was nothing ambiguous about Sterling's non-handball - not in the minds of all right thinking people - but a video playback would have rectified Clattenburg's 'mistake'. Even a worm like Twattenburg couldn't have wriggled out of that one.

  6. February 17, 2016  1:36 pm by Philip Entwistle Reply

    David, your piece is 100% spot on.
    Clattenberg et al are totally devoid of any moral backbone whatsoever, they can see there actions / decisions effect the game in a negative way but refuse to discuss because they have no answer to give, simply a shruck of there shoulders.
    They think we as football fans don't know the game, well we do, but the arrogance shown by these officials week on week out is what gets the blood boiling more than anything else. Managers are now over cautious on how they criticise officials because they 'are' accountable through the Premier League, a hefty fine is coming your way with an empassoined responce to a situation, all that is except old Bacon Face who got away with murder.
    People also argue that it evens itself throughout the course of season and we should just exept it as part of the game, mistakes will occur. It also gives us plenty of amusement, remember Martinez over the 2nd goal which should have been a goal kick, he ranted on and on and on about that, yet failed to mention the 2 clear penalties we should have been awarded in previous games, and then to top it all complained bitterly about West Brom blatantly time wasting at the week-end - priceless!
    Seriously though, the Premier League who employ these officials should take the lead along with Sky who's expert analists purr when a situation such as the 'non penalty' occurs during a game, as they have free reign to say exactly what they like, fueling the debate even further. If they would introduce an open forum televised on Sky after the games to allow an 'official' responce, what a piece of theatre that would be!

    • February 17, 2016  1:58 pm by David Walker Reply

      A Theatre of Screams at millions of TV sets I would imagine! Thanks for such a comprehensive response Philip - it really does beggar belief that this situation is allowed to trundle on by the football authorities. It's farcical or nigh on criminal...and I know where I'd put my money!

  7. February 17, 2016  2:18 pm by Allstarsignings Reply

    Great Article!
    This has been going on for so long that the gross ineptitude has become so acceptable that it is more common than not that big games are dependent upon the referee's performance. I follow most American sports too, particularly the NFL where they have embraced technology and it has helped the game so much. Decisions are overturned on a regular basis and although it can never be a perfect system, the technology and procedures are looked at every season to make improvements. Not only are controversial calls reviewed, but the coaches even get the opportunity to see a replay before deciding whether or not to challenge the call. I'm sick of the acceptance within the game (not from the fans) that mistakes can happen and it's all part of it, what a joke! Apart from the offsides, penalties etc the consistency with yellow cards is extremely poor too.
    The reason why these refs are not reprimanded or sacked for these decisions is because there would be none left. The game has changed so much that without technology, more officials on the pitch and in the stands, refereeing decisions are now based largely on guesswork.
    I'm also sick of hearing that technology will slow down the game!! I don't care if the game goes on for another hour as long as justice is done.
    There you go, rant over!

    • February 17, 2016  2:27 pm by David Walker Reply

      And what a well articulated rant it was! Many many thanks for your input - the technology is the key as it WILL make the game more transparent and, by definition equitable. It also helps officials who are genuinely giving of their best and, most importantly, eradicate those who are either sub-standard or even corrupt. Thanks again.

  8. February 17, 2016  3:01 pm by Pete lynch Reply

    Twat, no berg require. Excellent piece David.

  9. February 18, 2016  9:44 pm by Kamikaze Reply

    Many say we have the best league in the world, maybe but I say we must have some of the worse referees in the game who would even struggle to officiate an under 10s game at Hough End. Some of these so called officials I have seen referee City in recent games over the years are in my opinion, are on the same anti City agenda as the fraudulent mainstream media have been. The most bizarre thing is, never ever do you hear or see them being held accountable for their actions especially when they make blatant obvious mistakes, so who suffers, ultimately the club on the receiving end of their incompetent bile. I remember a game City played at Maine Rd many moons ago against Liverpool, George Courtney was the ref, if anyone here remembers that game will know exactly what happened that day. I'm still not sure if Courtney left the ground that day alive seen as though the Kippax were wishing 'death' on him.

    Rugby, Cricket, Tennis and other sports have a video ruling official that rules on potential match winning points/wickets etc and seems to work perfectly, so why not in Football? What's stopping it from happening in a multi million pound platform where fortunes are won and lost on the say so inept clowns a la Clattenburg? The saving grace I can take it that was not a final game of the season where we may have just needed a point to win a title. Frightening to even think about it!

    • February 18, 2016  11:02 pm by David Walker Reply

      Indeed, scared the sh*t out of me Kammy Lad! Always remember - just because we're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get us...because they bleedin' well are! Cheers fella.

  10. February 19, 2016  9:36 am by Bart Reply

    I've sat next to my mates Dek & Al since the late 1980's through thick & thin, good times and bad. Laughed, cried the lot, guess most of have experienced this over the years. Going back to the dark days Dek in particular always reckoned that football was bent, I struggled to believe it even though when things went against us I would think it. Over recent years Dek's theory has seemed less & less fanciful, strange betting patterns in the Far East, Blatter, Platini, Ferguson, Gill et al have damaged the beautiful game.
    At long last the cracks have appeared in the self policing, self appointed, self centred sham that is FIFA & we can only hope that a new broom will sweep clean. Hard not to be cynical but hope springs eternal. Once that is done we must then set about cleaning up UEFA as well. Ticketing, financial self interest of the old guard, exclusion of the innocent from stadiums, dubious draws, strange officiating and a 19th century attitude to technology are amongst a myriad of issues which must be cleaned up. A mighty task to say the least.
    You may notice that within that list are problems with officiating & technology which brings me round to last weekends debacle when once again the lamentable Clattenburg ruined a crucial, closely fought battle with what can only be described as a massive howler, I've not committed myself to print before now as it would have come out as a stream of invective. Every single person in the stadium & watching TV across the world knew that in a single moment this abhorrent individual was reshaping the title race. Anyone reading this site will be fully aware of the concerted campaign being undertaken by the shambolic efforts of Clattenburg, Madley, East & Taylor to name but a few. It's not that long ago that following on an investigation into dubious betting patterns in the Far East that one of the Premier League's senior referees disappeared from the scene and as far I'm aware resurfaced on the other side of the Atlantic. Draw your own conclusions.
    Dek's theory is again looking to be spot on, enough is enough this must stop now & refereeing which is at an all time low must be cleansed. I'm all for the officials being assisted by the use of video technology, it needn't stop play. All the average fan wants is a fair crack of the whip, the authorities are at least 20 years behind their counterparts in other sports, what are they trying to hide? Sort it out & my mate Dek might even start coming to Champions League games!

    • February 19, 2016  9:51 am by David Walker Reply

      Superb comments - thankyou very very much.

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