Untold Media: How PGMOL determines how refs are reported.
Intro: Untold has for a long while been interested in the fact that the media seems to march as one over the issue of reporting refs. Where mistakes are made it is because of a lack of technology. And errors always “balance out in the end”. If there is any suggestion of something odd going on it is always followed by an report of “unusual betting patters”, never a consideration of the way referees have been corrupted by clubs across Europe. When things got a bit heated every journalist involved in the subject started to talk as one about how many penalties clubs got – ignoring that this is unlikely to be the way in which fixed matches were fixed.
Of course these positions are legitimate, and arguments can be put across in these terms. But given the amount of material now published showing that there is far more to the issue than these topics, and given that on almost all other subjects the British media fights like mad for new angles and exclusives, the fact that they have universally ignored alternative explanations, ignored the revelations that came from Barca about ref fixing, and so on, this uniformity of approach has been puzzling.
Until now as Anne reports how the referees association is involved in determining what is reported in the press.
*To bjtgooner: Thank you very much for providing me with the report that inspired this series.
Regular readers of this site should be well familiar by now with the PGMOL (the shadowy, opaque LLC that manages EPL refereeing). Or at least, with the PGMOL’s operations relating to referees.
However, in this article, we will be branching out a bit, and examining some of the PGMOL’s media operations. And for those of you who might be thinking:
“What?! I wasn’t aware that the PGMOL had any media operations.”
Well, that would be because they apparently like to keep it secret for some reason….
But lately, I’ve had the occasion to document some rather interesting links between Mike Riley (former EPL referee and current head of the PGMOL), and Dermot Gallagher (former EPL referee and current media pundit), that raise some very interesting questions indeed about the role the PGMOL might be playing in determining what is reported in the media about refereeing decisions.
And just for fun, a little bit later in the series, we’ll throw the EPL itself into the mix as well.
But for now, let’s just take a quick look at our two key players: Dermot Gallagher and Mike Riley.
Dermot Gallagher and Mike Riley have a lot in common. For example, both are former EPL referees, and both managed to parlay their refereeing experience into lucrative new careers following their retirement from refereeing (this is despite the fact that both men are remembered primarily for the scandals that they caused, as opposed to any particular skill in refereeing.)
Indeed, Riley and Gallagher both proved to be quite controversial figures as referees, to the extent that, at the time both men retired, there was widespread questioning of their ethics amongst football fans. Riley, for example, is probably best remembered by Arsenal fans for incorrectly awarding the controversial penalty that ended Arsenal’s unbeaten streak at Old Trafford.
[ManCity defender] Ben Thatcher’s “forearm smash left Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes unconscious [and caused him to suffer a seizure...He was] taken to hospital by ambulance…Referee Dermot Gallagher had full view of the incident…and yet saw fit to brandish only a yellow card.”
Gallagher retired from refereeing in 2007, and Riley followed in 2009. Despite retiring as referees, both men chose subsequent careers that allowed them to retain a certain level of influence over refereeing in the EPL. Riley, of course, went on to head the PGMOL. Gallagher, on the other hand, opted for a career in “journalism.”
Currently, Gallagher appears weekly on Sky Sports and Talk Sport as a pundit, with the official task of “clarifying the weekend’s refereeing decisions.” In addition to his work with Sky and Talksport, Gallagher also contributes occasionally to the print media (also “clarifying refereeing decisions,”), and works for the EPL on Barclays Premier League international Matchday Live broadcasts (Gallagher’s work for the EPL will feature heavily later in this article series).
So, it would seem that, at the point of retiring from refereeing, Riley and Gallagher parted ways professionally. Or did they? Personally, I began to have some serious questions about this subject after reading the following comments by Gallagher in a recent appearance on Sky Sports (Thank you bjtgooner for providing me with a transcript):
“Sky: You’ve spoken to Mike Riley this weekend, what’s he had to say about the decisions over this weekend?
Dermot Gallagher: Well…I went to Mike because I watch, I watch all the games over the weekend, I watch incidents and I informed him (very hard to make out, the witness is mumbling) and let him know what happened yesterday and because of the ManU thing I rung him because it is easier to speak to him rather than text him and i just discussed the two incidents…”
So, very interesting…Based on the above comments, there were three specific things that stood out to me:
1) Gallagher seems noticeably nervous and reluctant to discuss Riley, and appears to be choosing his words so carefully that he can barely string a sentence together;
2) As a pundit on Sky, Gallagher is responsible for “a weekly feature clarifying the weekend’s refereeing decisions.” However, this week at least, prior to giving that report, Gallagher first discussed the weekend’s refereeing decisions with the head of the PGMOL. This occurred because Gallagher phoned the head of the PGMOL for the specific purpose of discussing the weekend’s refereeing decisions.
So, if Riley is “clarifying the weekend’s refereeing decisions” for Gallagher in advance of Gallagher’s report, would Riley not also be “clarifying the weekend’s refereeing decisions” for Sky’s viewers (even regardless of his specific intent)?
Also, what exactly was it that possessed Gallagher to make this call to Riley (at this time and for this purpose) in the first place? Did the idea just strike him out of the blue? Or could it be possible that this is, shall we say, a slightly more “regular” occurrence?;
3) Gallagher refers in a very casual manner to “ringing” Riley and “texting” Riley. In other words, Gallagher is not calling the secretary at Riley’s office. He’s calling Riley’s personal mobile phone. Over the weekend as well. Also, he mentions that it’s always better to phone Riley, as opposed to texting him, because it’s easier to get in touch with him that way.
So, to me, this would suggest that telephone conversations between the two men are, at the very least, not a completely unheard of occurrence. However, the above is simply a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what’s coming next.
This series of articles continues tomorrow
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