Is the FA Biased?

August 15, 2017

Now I’m not one who endorses conspiracy theories but when I look at the opening seven games in the Premier League it gives me leave to at least wonder.

In my belief it is important to have a high degree of balance and fairness in the schedule in order to give every team an equal opportunity of success. However the opening seven games favour one team far more than others.

Take a look at this ——–

Is it just a quirk of scheduling or do I perceive bias? Of course in the end result each team plays a home and away game against every other team but the schedule gives Man U a totally unfair advantage as they do not face any of the other top six teams. They have a distinct possibility of winning all seven games which will be a huge boost to their confidence level while the other five teams are in a dog fight playing against each other.

Am I being paranoid or do others have a similar opinion?

Written by GunnerN5


Arsenal has no reserves – because there are no reserves …….

December 3, 2015

The current paucity of options from the bench to reinforce Arsenal’s injury ravaged squad has led many to ask whether we can recall any of the players out on loan, and further to question why they were sent out on loan in the first place. It is evident that the loss of the reserve league has been a major factor in the management of those players on the periphery of the first team squad..

Gooner in Exile explained it in this way yesterday …..

The issue of players out on loan is brought upon by the lack of the reserve league (which has been gone for about three seasons now I think) and a change in academy rules. We can play 3 overage players in under 21 games and we can organise behind closed door friendlies. I’ve been to academy games in the new format, a couple at Carrow Road watching Arsenal. One season it was all youngsters, another season Chamakh, Arshavin and the Park played. The problem is that it was far too easy for the older players and nowhere physical enough to reflect senior football.

Because of this we have players out on loan. It is my understanding that we cannot loan to another PL club and then recall whenever we want, I think that can only happen in the transfer windows (especially if player is over 21 as they have to be named in the PL squad). Players loaned to Championship clubs can be recalled, but only play for us if they were registered to the PL squad (again if over 21 on 1 January 2015).

I am not a fan of the Academy rules that were pushed through in recent times.

Academy funding was done by the FA. Somehow the PL now control funding and have implemented set criteria about coaching time etc, to get the the clubs to comply to the rules for each level of academy. A Top Academy status club can go to any other academy of a lower status and take their pick of the talent with very little compensation paid, which further hinders the lower league clubs unless they are prepared to invest money (which they probably they don’t have) to shift up a level in status.

From this it would seem that money and the power the EPL wields over the FA have been the driving forces once again. Is it good for Arsenal? Is it good for English football? …… What do you think?

Compiled from a comment stolen from GoonerInExile 🙂


Oi Ref …. You Don’t Know What You’re Doing

January 16, 2014

It is only fair to say from the outset that if you are not interested in the way we fans are involved in the running of our favourite sport, and the idiosyncrasies of referees — do not read on! :-)

We have from time to time on AA discussed refereeing inconsistencies with heated debate frequently ensuing and the antics of the officials this week end should make them hang their heads in shame.

r1For the most part, reasoned and mature debate is the default setting on this venerable blog site and all manner of opinion is tolerated and aired to prove or disprove points of view.

But why do we depend on expressing our opinions to justify our individual views, or to prove a point, however dubious, and what is the value of an opinion anyway?

Well opinions do have substantial value, in the right context, but let’s be candid, we are only really interested in those opinions that please us, by which we mean agrees with our own views, and sod the ‘value’.

Does that mean we do not value the potential worth of constructive criticism? Not necessarily, because opinions can have a much wider impact and importance.

It is important to note here that not all fans have the same value judgments, and that some fans can treat opposing opinions rather more roughly than is really necessary.:-)

It is a truism that some of us may struggle with what value to attach to an opinion that contradicts our own biased stance. This notion is important to resolve, but in any event it should be a matter of pride that our opinions are essentially the bedrock of civilisation in ways we do not always immediately recognise.

Take statute Law. In the UK this is Law passed by the elected members of Parliament and this, together with Laws passed in other Countries are a fundamental necessity for the smooth running of this and every other civilised society.

This form of Law is normally committed to writing, to avoid misunderstanding , and in and of itself is pure, in so far as language can make it so.

Unfortunately, problems can still arise because of verbal or written ambiguity which is endemic in all languages, not least English, especially where it involves definitions governing the practical application of Law upon society.

Ambiguity inevitably leads to hypocrisy as an inevitable consequence of allowing an opportunity for ‘interpretation’ of meaning by those in a position of power.

As a result, the Law can be seen to bend itself to those in power like the branches of a tree flinch in a high wind, and precisely how the law is interpreted and applied depends on the whims of those in power which, in turn, results in the Law becoming twisted and perverse.

Now that leads us back to an inevitable conclusion that laws are, at base, just a set of formalised opinions, approved by the electorate.

This means that the Law should be formalised as the result of the informed opinions of the electorate for the proper and ‘peaceful’ governance of society, or, for that matter, of any other institution which implements laws or rules to ensure strong and impartial governance of its members.

There are those who will contest the use of the word ‘peaceful’ in this context, as many will view the imposition of the Law as having, at its core, the subjugation of those without power who are unable to introduce or amend the Laws which govern them except through the offices of those in authority.

Others will say this is not so, and that the introduction or maintenance of Laws, or rules, are necessary for the mitigation of damages or the decreeing and enforcement of punishments for anti-social behaviour.

OK, let us stop for a moment and consider what we have discussed, so far.

Opinions do have intrinsic value in arriving at a system of Law that helps govern society, and also the rules for the administration of institutions. These Laws then impose the rules that govern acceptable behaviour in society at large, or the judicial operation of institutions and other authoritative bodies.

As a natural fallout from this, there is an implied need to protect every individual within society, and the members of institutions, from harm, both physical and mental.

My personal concerns over this whole subject is that, in practise, Laws can sometimes be seen to decide which forms of oppression are allowed, and because man made laws are subject to those in power, and oppression then becomes a right for them over those who have little or no power.

That might seem to be an overtly political point of view, :-) but it has a direct correlation to football, and how it is run, and that is the only matter under discussion here.

The governance of football, whether from its highest authority, FIFA, or its application by one of its incumbent bodies, UEFA or the Premier League, and through them the referees body PGMOL, is in effect a form of oppressive authoritarianism, and its intent is to protect their own dominance by manipulating the power of member clubs and to impose rules on the game and on the conduct of the players, all of which, in the final analysis, directly affects us, the fans, and we have no say whatsoever in this process, other than to voice our concerns in forums such as this.

To keep this state of affairs in a sustainably stable and rigidly enforceable grip, one of the first tasks of FIFA and the other authorities has been to belittle the views or opinions of those, like you, who disagree with their manipulation of the beautiful game, (take the award of the World Cup venues for example) and they have succeeded to a great degree in doing so because those of us who seek another way to run the game are usually either unwilling or unable to articulate those views for fear of being mocked for expressing them.

That then is the rub.

For those few who do stand up to be counted often take umbrage at being ridiculed for lacking in perspicacity or acumen only gives an excuse for the massed ranks of the authorities to descend en masse to ritually and publicly humiliate and annihilate the disaffected ‘fools’ as we are seen, and thereby re-establish their control and authority, which, of course, is intended to protect their own vested interests, of which the primary one is the powerful assertion of absolute oppression, by the application of their laws and the elimination of any dissension.

None the less, the expression of our opinions on public forums such as AA is a necessary first step to ensure that the footballing authorities in this country, and elsewhere, are made aware of our concerns and the need for what we see as the beneficial and transparent application of just rules. :-)

Keep blogging, keep your opinions forthright, keep on keeping on! :-)

Written by RA (Red Arse)

Premiership clubs destroy England – Is Dyke right?

September 5, 2013

The new Chairman of the FA, Greg Dyke, has opened his account with a high profile critique of the current state of the game in England.  His fundamental point is that the pool of English talent continues to diminish and something needs to be done about that.

Looking at the last World Cup and the recent Under 21 Euros, you could say he has a point.  In both of those tournaments, England produced pretty lame and tame performances, and never looked to be in danger of troubling the silver polishers.

Personally, I think there are some very good young English players around right now, not least of all our own Theo, Jack, Gibbs, Corporal Jenks and the Ox. The likes of Daniel Sturridge, Joe Hart, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Ryan Bertrand, Jack Rodwell and Wilfried Zaha all look excellent.  And amongst the youngsters behind them, there are players who look to have real quality: for example, Spurs’ Tom Carroll looks very good.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the English game is in fact the English and Welsh game, and right now there is something of a resurgence in the Welsh game, evidenced most obviously by Bale’s transformation into a Galactico, but also shown by the amazing success of Swansea and the return of Cardiff to the top division. And then there’s our own fantastic Welshman.

So, I’m not so sure the problem is as bad as it’s being made out to be.  It’s also worth remembering that, in recent years, the senior England squad has become more reliable about qualifying for major tournaments.  In the 1970s and 1980s, they made it a habit of missing out on qualification; that doesn’t much now.

Dyke’s focus seems to be on foreign players’ presence in the Premier League.  He cites figures suggesting that, in the last 20 years, the number of English players in the starting line-ups of top-flight clubs had gone from 69% to 32%.  He also said the proportion of new signings by PL clubs who are qualified to play for England had fallen from 37% to 25% in the past two years. “Last weekend only 65 English players started in the Premier League with another 14 coming on as substitutes,” he said. “Taking into account that some of these players are not international standard, I think it’s fair to say we already have a very small talent pool and it’s getting smaller.”

I won’t get into the basis of Dyke’s stats, save to make the general point that percentages can be calculated in many different ways, so I don’t necessarily take Dyke’s figures to be gospel.  For example, it isn’t clear to me where Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and Irish players fit into the analysis – players from those five footballing nations constituted the pre-PL pool from which players were drawn, so narrowly looking only at English players now would stunt the figures. Also, when you think of dual qualification, people like Carl Jenkinson for example, the truth behind the figures can become less clear.

But let’s assume that Dyke is right, that there is a diminishing pool of English PL players for the England coaches to recruit from.  Is that really a problem?  And if it is, why has it happened, and what could be done to rectify it?

Whenever I hear people complaining about the number of foreigners playing in the PL, my first reaction is always to point to the stubborn reluctance of young English players to make the same moves as their counterparts from other countries.  If they’re not getting enough pitch time in England, why not go to Holland, Sweden, France, Portugal, Belgium, or the US?  My guess is those youngsters are too scared to take on the challenge of moving country and/or prefer to take the easy, better money of being in an English PL squad.  Introducing quotas on foreign players (even if that were legally possible) wouldn’t answer those problems.  It would be better to give those young players some life-coaching, so that they make better decisions and broaden their horizons and their ambitions.

So, any thoughts?  Is Dyke right?  Do changes need to be made to the way the game is organised?  Does the strength of the national team even matter as compared with the ability of the clubs to recruit whatever players they want?

Written by 26may

Why Are Referees Biased Against Arsenal?

February 7, 2011

Yes, you read the title correctly.

I’m not asking IF referees are biased against us. I want to know why they ARE.

On Saturday, at 4-0 up, we saw Phil Dowd do all he could to help Newcastle back into the game. This included:

  • Playing three-and-a-half minutes of stoppage time in the first half because Newcastle were attacking, even though the fourth official signalled for only two minutes.
  • Failing to send off Nolan for a similar (but worse) offence than Diaby’s.
  • Giving a very debatable penalty (the first one) despite there being a host of players between him and the incident.
  • Giving Newcastle the softest penalty in the EPL so far this year (again, from the opposite side of the penalty area).
  • Generally letting Newcastle’s players repeatedly foul Arsenal’s without punishment (Barton and Enrique being the main serial offenders).

In recent games we have also seen:

  • Lee Mason booking Jack Wilshere for his first foul in the game against Everton (after just five minutes), then not punishing Everton players for repeated fouling.
  • Mason, in the same game, mystifyingly ignoring the offside rules to allow Everton’s goal.
  • Mark Clattenburg allowing an Aston Villa goal against us when Carew was standing miles offside and blatantly impeding Fabianski’s view.
  • Clattenburg sending off Squillaci for a ‘last man’ foul 30 yards from goal, but leaving a Huddersfield defender on the pitch for a ‘last man’ foul in the six yard box.

There are many more examples and I’m sure every Gooner can rattle off loads of them.

Too many, in short, to be a coincidence.

At the same time Manchester United get more ‘rub of the green‘ than a self-pleasuring leprechaun: blatant penalties not given against them; physical intimidation of referees unpunished; added minutes always counted in Fergietime if United are chasing the game (like ‘dog years,’ one minute of Fergietime is the equivalent of three ‘real world’ minutes) and clear red card offences ignored.

So the question is why?

I believe one possible answer is a conspiracy among officials. By which I don’t mean that they have been bribed or that they’ve all had a collective bet on Man Utd to win the title: rather that when they get together for their referees’ seminars and the like and talk among themselves, they come to some sort of negative consensus about Arsenal.  And probably about Arsène Wenger too.

If it is a conspiracy it’s a subconscious one, but with obvious roots:

Arsène has a history of claiming that our players are not given sufficient protection. Every time he says this, he is directly criticising not just a particular ref for a specific incident, but every single one of them for the way they officiate week in, week out.

It’s human nature to dislike being criticised and to feel resentful towards the critic.

The referees also read the papers just like everyone else, so they soak up all the anti-Arsenal stories that are trotted out every week (from the utterly contrived Cesc furore this week to the Phil Brown lies and the shameful ‘Eduardo is a diver’ campaign).  You can’t tell me they’re not influenced by this stuff.

Added to that, all EPL refs are British. Arsenal is the most foreign influenced club in the country, both in our predominantly overseas squad and in the way we play football. Culturally, we have less in common with the mindset of the British referee than any other team.

English players like Rooney, Lampard and Terry are known to be chummy with some of the officials once the game is over (I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot of Howard Webb relatives with memorabilia signed by the Man Utd players).  I suspect that doesn’t happen with our players (the chumminess I mean, not the dishing out of ManUre tat to distant cousins).

Finally there’s what you might call the underdog factor. We are regularly written up as being the best footballing side in the country. When we play lesser teams I think the refs have a subliminal sense that it’s not fair for all these twinkle-toed little foreign wizards to dance round the lumpen midfielders and defenders in the opposition.

It’s the only explanation I can think of for the fact that we are far more fouled against than fouling, yet we get a higher proportion of yellow cards per foul than any other team. It’s because the officials feel sorry for our opponents.

That’s what I felt happened with Dowd on Saturday. It was evident in stoppage time at the end of the first half when he ignored an appalling off-the-ground lunge through the back of Arshavin from Joey Barton then immediately penalised Diaby for failing to make contact with the Newcastle thug. This was during the well-over three minutes he allowed for added time, even though the fourth official signalled for only two. I’m convinced he played this extra extra time because Newcastle had finally realised that there was a second set of posts up the other end of the pitch and that they were supposed to be attacking them.

It reminded me of when I have refereed kids’ games and one team is getting battered 15-nil. It may be time to blow up, but the losing team finally has an attack so you let them play on in the hope they’ll get a consolation goal.

In a kids’ game it makes you a sentimental old so-and-so.

In a professional match it makes you an embarrassment to your trade.

During the second half, as the Newcastle revival grew following Diaby’s sending off (with which I have no argument), it was like Dowd got all caught up with the excitement of the occasion.

For the second penalty you can see him look at the incident, then turn as if to run away. But then the Newcastle player makes a heated appeal for the pen and Dowd stops and gives it. What excitement! Refereeing a game with a great comeback story! He must have been beside himself.

Even the fourth Newcastle goal shouldn’t have counted, given that it stemmed from a free-kick against us for a non-existent foul. But when Tiote belted in the ‘once-in-a-career’ goal that so many players seem to manage against Arsenal, Dowd knew he would be one of the top games on Match of the Day.

Quite what we do about all this, I don’t know. Arsène Wenger has highlighted the cards-to-fouls stats in the past but it doesn’t make any difference.

I fear that until European referees are allowed into the EPL the subconscious bias against us will continue.

If we do go on to win the league this year (or any time soon), we will only do it by playing better than Man Utd or Chelsea would need to do in similar circumstances (because they do not have the built-in handicap of refereeing prejudice).

We need to go out for every game in the knowledge that we really are, to use the cliché, playing against 12 men.