Wednesday 4 January 2012

Mike Riley, the PGMO and referee selection

Graham Poll Poll criticised referees chief Mike Riley recently for being "anonymous" and leaving referees to "hang out to dry".  Obviously Graham Poll has his own vested interests, but he does have a point.  Very few people spare this topic much thought but it is a biggie, just who is running the refereeing the the Premier League and how transparent is this process?  There is so much money involved in football these days surely the whole system would be designed to minimise bias and to reassure the public that no Italian style match fixing would be possible in England?  At least one would hope so.

"At the professional level there are 22 Select Group referees and 49 National List referees operating on behalf of the PGMO (Professional Game Match Officials).  Select Group referees officiate primarily in the Premier League whilst the National List primarily cover the Football League.

The PGMO is a tripartite body comprising The FA, Premier League and Football League who administer, appoint, train and manage referees operating at our senior level.

The Select Group officiates in the Premier League and is the responsibility of Mike Riley, General Manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL). Premier League refereeing enquiries should be addressed to Mike Riley, The Premier League, 30 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8PL or via"

 The PL refereeing is run, regulated and controlled by the Professional Games Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) which is run by Mike Riley, it is a Limited company and not obliged to reveal anything to fans.  The PGMO website has been down for some time.  Having repeatedly contacted the above email address I have only extracted the most basic of information about the referee selection process:

"PGMO look at the fixtures 6 weeks ahead, pick the right refs for the right games, then review this on a weekly basis. They take all factors into account, other games they have reffed, who they support, distance to travel, and in some cases international refs may have reffed in Europe during the week, and this all impacts on availability. Referees can’t always have a Premier League match every game."

This is it, despite numerous specific questions on the referee selection process, this is all the PGMO will reveal, basically that they select the 'right' refs for the 'right'games.  Essentially we are just meant to trust the PGMO to do the job, despite the fact the the process of referee selection for the richest football league in the world appears rather hidden and the very opposite of transparent.  The PGMO are happy with things:

"We are entirely satisfied with the way Referees are selected by PGMO and the way in which they are assessed and trained."

So the PGMO are happy and we are expected to take their word for it, but should we?  Very little is available in the public domain about the PGMO, interestingly today on Twitter the Premier League PR manager Philip Dorward said that the referee selection process was 'fair, robust and transparent'.  The PGMO's past directors include the PL CEO Richard Scudamore and the FA's Brian Barwick, not surprising given the PGMO is basically an extension of the FA/PL and Football League.

Maybe I'm just a paranoid fanatic, this could be true, but I just find it a little tricky to trust the PGMO so absolutely, especially given when happened in Italy recently, how do we know the same couldn't happen in the PL or hasn't happened in the past?  For me the PGMO is a closed shop and referees are effectively regulating themselves behind closed doors, the PGMO thinks refereeing is getting better and better, but they never release any data to back these claims up.

Most importantly the PGMO have not released any information that shows that referee selection in the PL is protected from outside influence that may systematically alter the outcome of PL games.  The PGMO is clearly not transparent in its workings, therefore we do not have any idea of how fair or robust the selection process may or may not be.


Anonymous said...

Once in a while we hear about a referee being demoted, but there is little accountability that we can see. For example, does someone sit down with Lee Probert and watch the Fulham game and discuss calls and missed calls? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Mike Riley is a MU fan. He awarded them 13 consecutive penalties.

Anonymous said...

Check out Untold Arsenal's ref reviews.

Arsenal aren't the only side to suffer but after poor reffing in the past four games, it's very easy to get paranoid!


Anonymous said...

We have no idea what goes on behind closed doors but I don't trust Mike Riley for one second.

Good article.

And yes at Untold Arsenal they follow this up on a regular basis

Anonymous said...

Flash back 20044. Reyes was kicked by the Neville bros and no action taken until late in the game.Campbell's trip on the ugly Brit bull dog was outside the box and he gave a penalty to the red faced.
No wonder the rfc finds it tough to win nowadays.MR is no longe around to give spot kicks.

Anonymous said...

There was an expose on Sky Sports news 3-4 months ago, it was their 'special report' programme they do once a week.

Anyway, this one was 'Match fixing scandel'

The concluded that the majority of match fixing stems from Hong Kong where one of the gangs out there organise match fixing - it's a multi million dollar business out there and got so out of hand hat Fifa set up their own 'anti match fixing department'

It was concluded that match fixing happens in every country in every league and at every level in world football.

Now the interesting part....
There was a guy they were trying to track down, he was caught for match fixing a few years back and did went to prison but has been out for a while. This guy was an underboss to one of the main bosses in Hong Kong so high up th chain.

He now lives in Wembley, 5 min walk from the national stadium and FA office...

It's very concerning.
I've personally believed in match fixing since the newcastle 4-4 game last season.

Unknown said...

Good Article once again!

I have often wondered who manages the Premier League Refs and who takes them to task for shoddy officiating. Surely one cannot be prosecutor, Judge & Jury at a trial?

Ted said...

well said 1979. good post.