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)

European Super League. Inevitable?

March 27, 2013

To my mind, many aspects of Football are a microcosm of Society.

The reactions and behaviour of Fans, in many ways mirror social attitudes and the economic climate of the broader society. I also see this correlation within individual Clubs as well as between Clubs themselves. The concentration of power within a club, and then the concentration of power between a small elite of Clubs and The Rest.

Everywhere I look, I see the same model.

Look across Europe right now, and we see the collapse of Economies, Sovereign States, Societies and Currencies. The gap between the rich and poor grows exponentially wider. The call from citizens for their rights and privileges grows ever louder. Sounds familiar?

A quick look at the Power Brokers of European Football reveals to me, a group intent on preserving their own. Their Elite. Are Fair Play rules there to protect the grass roots of the game, or to serve the best interests of the few?

We have seen the back of the European Cup with single representatives from member countries. We have seen the merging of The Cup Winners Cup into The Europa League (yip, “League”). The lines between The Champions League and Europa are becoming blurred, with those falling at the first hurdle in the former being dumped into the latter.

Surely, recent talk of some kind of World Club Super League in Qatar is going to prompt some kind of response from our European Leaders.

Now, what could that possibly be?

Written by MickyDidIt

Rule Change Will Stymie Stoke in Arsenal’s Favour

August 22, 2012

Without much fanfare the Premier League has introduced a regulation change which might prove to be very helpful to Arsenal in certain away games this season.

Whereas previously clubs had discretion about the size of their pitch (within quite broad parameters), now they all have to comply with the UEFA standard of 105m by 68m (which, in old money, equates to more or less 115 yards by 74 yds).

No big deal?

Well, it’s going to make a significant difference to some clubs who have been taking the “barely legal” approach to pitch size for some time.

Chief among the culprits have been the Mighty Orcs, otherwise known as Stoke City.

Until forced to enlarge their pitch this year, Stoke have been using the absolute minimum dimensions for their playing surface.

The old rule (Rule I. 21) said: In League Matches the length of the pitch shall be not more than 110 metres nor less than 100 metres and its breadth not more than 75 metres nor less than 64 metres.”

Stoke opted for the minimum length (100m/109yds) and the minimum width (64m/70yds). If the laws allowed it, you suspect they would have shrunk their pitch to the size of a basketball court and swapped goals for hoops. Rory Delap to win the Golden Glove anyone?

Now you may be thinking that we’re only talking about a yard here or there, so what does it matter?

Well, what if I told you that Stoke’s approach means there are 800 fewer square yards to play on at their ground compared with a ground that follows the UEFA standard (which, by the way, is compulsory for both European cup competitions). For reference, the pitch at The Emirates complies with the UEFA standard.


The pitch area at the Emirates is 8,510 sq yds. At Stoke it’s 7,700.

Just imagine an area of turf 29 yards by 29 yards square. All that lovely green grass that our fine young players DON’T get to play on when we visit the Britannia.

Not that I really blame Stoke for doing this. If you are going to base your game on physicality, defensiveness and long throw-ins then why not exploit the rules to the maximum?

But – and not before time – the Premier League has decided to make sure that every team gets to play on a level playing field (pun intended). By insisting on larger pitches I suspect the EPL is also hoping to encourage more expansive, attacking play, which will help maintain the international appeal of our league.

As far as I can tell from some cursory internet research (if any of my facts are wrong, feel free to correct them in comments) the only other club in the EPL this year that previously had a minimum sized ground is West Ham.

However, several clubs were a good way below the new criteria. Both Liverpool and Everton had 8,140 sq yds of playing surface – 370 sq yds below what is now acceptable. Of course that could be because the locals pinched a few hundred yards of turf to sell off the back of a truck.

Interestingly, the Spuds – until recently – had a pitch only marginally bigger than Stoke’s, with an area of 8,030 sq yds. Given the way they try to play (with fast attacking wide men) it seems an odd approach. Maybe it’s just too much effort trying to get grass – or anything else wholesome – to grow in N17.

Fulham, QPR and Southampton have all also had to enlarge their playing surfaces as a result of the new rule (at least I assume they have – although there is a get-out for a club if “it is impossible for it to comply… due to the nature of construction of its ground”).

So what does this all mean for our trip to Mordor on Sunday?

One thing it doesn’t mean is that we’re sure to win. You only win tough games like this if your squad are fully committed and play close to the best of their ability.

But it takes a slight edge away from the home team (they have more ground to cover defensively, it will be harder for them to funnel everything into the crowded middle of the pitch and Towel Boy Delap will have to throw even further to reach the penalty spot). And it gives a slight edge to us: more room for our wide players to stretch the Orc defence and pull the home team out of shape; more room for our clever movement and passing to be effective.

The same should apply at the other grounds where the pitch has had to be enlarged this year.

For our boys, playing every game home and away on a pitch the same size can only be a good thing.

Last season Stoke punched (sometimes literally) above their weight in the EPL.

Their tiny pitch undoubtedly played a part (as did the consistent favourable bias they got from referees – check out the Untold Arsenal site if you don’t believe me).

This time round, with a full sized playing pitch and, hopefully, some extra scrutiny of the refereeing bias, I don’t expect them to be able to emulate their 14th place finish from last year and they could well be in for a relegation fight. Let’s hope we give them a shove in that direction on Sunday.



April 21, 2010

Written by dandan

I was brought up to believe in the free market, that the laws of supply and demand would regulate prices and a product was worth what someone would pay for it. Which is why the cost of oil and gold to name but two, are going through the roof in these uncertain times

Since time immemorial it has also been said, that the labourer is worthy of his hire, meaning that someone should always be paid the rate for the job.

But can we honestly say that footballers meet any of these criteria?

Is there a point when morally supply and demand outstrip the rate for the job?

It is reasonable to suppose that in the Premier League (where the average salary is £28k a week), that a run of the mill player earning say 25k who can be easily replaced if injured, is probably overpaid, whereas it is far more difficult to argue that a player like Rooney, Torres or Fabergas is overpaid when judged by the same criterion, i.e. ease of replacement.

The morality of such largesse must though be questionable. Should anyone be allowed to negotiate such contracts, maximising his or her income, irrespective of the clubs actual success, literally holding them to ransom, knowing those contracts are in all but the very wealthiest of clubs, redundant before they are even signed.

The players are secure in the knowledge that should they really want a move the clubs are generally powerless to stop them, unable to afford having such an expensive asset unsettled, uninterested and a disruptive influence in the dressing room. Or should all salaries, include a standard basic, appearance money and agreed bonuses providing they meet the criteria set out below? If so where would image rights appear in this?

Isn’t it also time UEFA stopped mouthing threats and actually set some rules to create an even playing field across Europe and give all clubs an equal chance?

Limit all clubs’ wage bills to a percentage of turnover.

Stop the rich owners from exceeding these limits and demand debt-ridden clubs reduce their debts, banning any activity that further increases that debt until they meet the criteria laid down.

Make all leagues share the TV revenue fairly and proportionately as in the Premier League.

Do UEFA have the power or the will to tackle the problems head on or will they hide behind the good old restraint of trade clause as an excuse to do nothing? Are they terrified that the really big clubs will take their ball and form a true European league, as the Premier League did to the football league, when the cash cow that was pay to view appeared on the horizon.