Friday, 6 April 2012

Systematic bias? Ignorance and stupidity is bliss

Some things are just coincidence, however when strange and unlikely things continue to happen, then it becomes less and less likely that they are down to chance, and more and more likely that they are subject to some kind of bias, whether that be subconsciously or consciously.  The more one looks at the way in which referees are selected from Premier League games, the more fishy things look, especially in the context of big decisions having big effects on the season's end outcome.

The evidence is gathering and I would strongly recommend that anyone interested have a look at Untold Arsenal's recent stuff on Mike Riley's PGMOL and the referee selection process, the excellent 'football is fixed' is also well worth a glance.  Untold Arsenal's recent work on the hidden process of referee selection is particularly interesting, the PGMOL's process is incredibly open to bias and subjectivity, meaning that even if there is no conscious manipulation of influence at work, then subconscious bias is going to be massive exaggerated and increased by such a weak system:

  • - The current form of the official
  • - The referee’s position in the merit table
  • - Overall experience
  • - How often they have refereed the Clubs involved
  • - Proximity to the ground or city in which they were born or live
  • - The team the referee supports
  • - International appointments (For example if referees have UEFA matches on Thursdays they will only be available for matches on Sundays or Mondays)
The above 'factors' essentially leave officials to be hand picked behind closed doors in a completely non-transparent manner.  Recently we have seen Howard Webb selected for 3 Manchester United games in a row at a crucial time of the season, what are the chances of that?  There are many other hugely suspicious coincidences, the Walton coincidence and the Mike Dean coincidences

Ignore the coincidences, ignore the strange runs, but one thing that simply has to be noticed is the way in which referees are allocated so very subjectively.  I wholeheartedly agree with Untold Arsenal on this one, there simply is no good argument against having a random allocation of referees that spreads the games evenly between all the 19 elite Premier League referees.  One could easily allocated all the games to referees at the beginning of the season when the fixtures are announced, this process should be as random as possible to remove all types of bias from the process.

We need video technology badly, there is no good argument against it, the same is true for having a decent transparent and objective system by which referees are selected for games.  The best case scenario at the moment is that the undeniable variable subconscious bias of referees that skews results is being exaggerated by a biased subjective process of referee selection, the worst case does not even bear thinking about.

Sadly it is rather obvious that football is about as corrupt as any business out there; FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League has given us many great examples of of this.  Football is now a largely unregulated business, the government aren't regulating it, the FA aren't and the Premier League certainly aren't.  There is also no democratic process by which the stakeholders, us - the fans, can hold any of these private institutions to account and force them to reform.  We have seen what a joke reform is at FIFA, it is like asking the tobacco industry to self regulate.  The mainstream media appear to largely have their head in the sand on many of these issues, they are often scared of biting the hand that feeds, the momentum is gathering though......


Anonymous said...

What you say is excellent. Every organisation in football- managers,players and fans should get together to promote democracy in our game. If this means more accountability in the way the game is managed, reffed and policed--good!
We don't expect the turkey administrators to vote for Christmas but we might expect the media to support such improvements. That they refuse to even broach the bent refs subject is very,very worrying!!

Tony Attwood said...

Can I thank you for your very kind comments about Untold Arsenal.

The team of referees we have working on the ref reviews we do each week, and the analysis that is done as a result of this, takes an enormous amount of time and effort.

It is through the determination of these people to ensure that the voice of sanity is heard and the bias is revealed, that we are able to publish these details.

Tony Attwood, editor, Untold Arsenal