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Turkeys Coming Home to Roost?

By Matt Traynor :  23/10/2007 :  Comments (21) :
The recent round of Barclays Premier League (BPL) fixtures saw some "interesting" refereeing performances that sparked debate amongst pundits and fans alike. None more so than the performance of Mark Clattenburg, a referee who many thought was one of the better performers in the BPL, and a future top official.

I'll focus on "that game" between Everton and Liverpool as, like many of you, I was watching the game with a load of other football fans. Let me state that I am an Everton fan, so whilst this is my opinion, I am trying to be as balanced as possible, plus I want to throw open the debate into a wider context. Watching the game with our merry (and occasionally rowdy, but invariably humorous) bunch of Toffees were fans of other clubs ?including some Liverpool fans (all are welcome).

During the first half it was shaping up to be one of those frenetic, action-packed derbies that we've all seen down the years (and I've been to many at Goodison, Anfield and Wembley). But in the first half I felt that the referee was giving most of the 50:50 decisions to Liverpool (by definition, they should be evenly distributed).

For a lot of neutrals, what should have been a "trademark" Merseyside derby was ruined by a number of controversial decisions by Clattenburg. I won't quote the rules as you can trawl the Internet and find them on the FA website.

Controversy 1
The foul by Hibbert on Gerrard which led to a penalty, and the subsequent sending off of Hibbert. Having watched this repeatedly, and in slow motion ? the contact started outside the area with Gerrard grabbing the front of Hibbert's shirt (out of sight of the referee), and Hibbert then grabbing Gerrard's. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Then, as soon as Gerrard gets into the area, his right leg then goes from under him, and he goes to ground, with Hibbert falling also. But Hibbert never actually makes contact with his right leg. Simulation? Maybe. You can understand why Clattenburg gives it given his position is behind the two players.

Clattenburg then pulls the yellow card out of the pocket in his shorts to book Hibbert. Gerrard walks past, and clearly mouths to the referee words to the effect of "I was going to shoot". Clattenburg then puts the yellow card back into his pocket in his shorts and produces the red from his breast pocket.

Controversy 2
The challenge by Dirk Kuyt on Phil Neville. Clattenburg clearly saw it as a foul, as he elected to book the player. If he saw it, then why he didn't see it as a two-footed challenge which is an automatic red card, according to the rules he has to enforce, only he can explain. You may point out there was no actual contact, but actually the rules state intent. Plus, if you were Phil Neville, would you think "I'll stand here and let him go through me so he gets a red, and I'm out of the game for months"?

Controversy 3
In the last seconds of the game Joleon Lescott is pulled backwards to the ground by Jamie Carragher, who clearly has both arms around him. At this stage Liverpool are 2-1 up with Neville having been (rightly of course) sent off for handball on the line. Clattenburg was up with play, had an excellent view and clearly decided it wasn't a penalty.

There were other incidents I've not gone into ? including the Finnan-Lescott penalty claim earlier in the second half, and the fact that there appeared to be a handball by a Liverpool player in the build up to the second penalty and sending off. I won't discuss Gerrard's shaking of Clattenburg's hand as he was subbed ? other than to say I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd exchanged hugs!

The only crumb of comfort I've been able to take from all of this was the criticism of the behaviour of players, the officiating of the referee and his assistants that has come from all sections of the media ? both in Asia and, amazingly, in the "Big 4-obsessed" media in the UK. I also took solace with the dignified reaction from David Moyes. Compare that with the comments from Benitez afterwards (and previous comments) which have even riled some of the hardcore Liverpool supporters I know ? the man doesn't know the history behind the two clubs, and the derby matches!

Really, my point in all of this is that with there being so much more money in the game, and with the now global broadcasting, is there not a danger that this sort of thing could blow up in the faces of the FA?

Imagine a situation where a club fails to qualify for Europe, or worse gets relegated, due to the inexplicable performance of officials during a game. The cost in revenue terms to the clubs could be enormous. Factor in players wanting to move on because the club didn't qualify for Europe / got relegated etc. and you can see how it mushrooms. The G14 (which is actually 17 clubs) is only interested in looking after the interests of its membership ? not the game. There are 16 other teams in the BPL ? all of whom aspire to doing as well as they can, and on a level playing field.

I know for a lot of fans, the result is all that matters ? and ultimately that's what the records will show. But to their credit, a number of Liverpool fans have told me (and also my folks tell me that it's similar back in Liverpool itself) that it was not the way to win a derby game. For those that don't care about anything other than 3 points ? you're right. A victory is a victory, no matter how hollow.

So what of Mr Clattenburg? Well the papers report he's been given the weekend off. Okay, so that's all settled then. A pity no-one mentioned it to Mr Graham Poll, who when speaking on national radio yesterday in the UK, pointed out that as Clattenburg is on roster for a Uefa Cup tie this Thursday, he's off roster for the weekend anyway.

So I guess the FA (and don't lose sight of the constitution of the directors at Soho Square) has done what they always do ? Sweet FA. We know it'll happen again, and maybe your team will be on the receiving end (or the beneficiaries). Yet again it will be seen by millions globally, wondering what is happening to the game.

All we ask is that referees are consistent. Mark Clattenburg most certainly was consistent on Saturday!

Reader Comments

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Alex Baker
1   Posted 28/10/2007 at 22:48:02

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I too have been disgusted by Benitez and impressed by Moyes’ reaction. All I can say is that I hope that Fat Spanish Waiter gets a sacking that he richly deserves.
Paul Daly
2   Posted 29/10/2007 at 02:59:01

Report abuse my circle of fans/friends - on the e-mail, on the phone, in personetc. Reds of the Shite, Manc & Gooner variety said we wuz robbed.
As for the hoary old cliche "what goes around comes around"....I say....When????? I’m still waiting for some instant kharma for the Bryan Hamilton decision.......
3   Posted 29/10/2007 at 10:49:08

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What chance have we got of getting instant karma for the Hamilton decision?

None - cos The Shite sold their soul to the Devil and once again God’s side have been shafted by demonic intervention.... Wonder how many souls they paid for 6 minutes in Istanbul...

Occasionally of course Lucifer does extract a high price for his services.

On the subject of Hamilton/Thomas - the main reason he shafted us that day (and ask Hamilton if you want) is that Thomarse was an ex-Norwich footballer and he shafted Hamilton (ex-Ipswich) - he did it in an earlier Ipswich Town Cup Tie as well.

A Thom
4   Posted 29/10/2007 at 10:32:05

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I have a few RS mates and they too are perturbed by the Fat waiters actions and comments. Taking off Gerrard was something else when Sissoko had a nightmare and then made comment that was it because Gerrard, the clubs captain, best player did not have a brain ! Nice one BOSS. Long may he continue in his position because he is not doing them any favours, his ridiculous rotation policy and outragous biased comments, he only sees RED, how he wants to see it - accusing Lescott of diving being one belter
Hopefully he will screw them up for the forseeable future, the Premiership will never land which is reassuring, I can see Gerrard wobbling & off to pastures new very soon. Fat Waiter & RS deserve each other - Let it Carry ON and it will be Raffle Beneath-us !
Dom Eaton
5   Posted 29/10/2007 at 12:27:30

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My brothers the biggest red you’ll meet and he agreed once again that we were robbed yesterday

I can see this one going on and on.
Dom Eaton
6   Posted 29/10/2007 at 12:34:01

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By the way I was talking to him yesterday!!
Nick Entwistle
7   Posted 29/10/2007 at 12:57:32

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Good artical, agree totally.
And wrt Liverpool... surely they should rotate in Europe as the Prem is their priority? Well, they won’t win it unless it does become so, but hey, the Fat Waiter can keep changing all he likes :)
Joey Bottafucko
8   Posted 29/10/2007 at 16:13:36

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Let us not forget we have already been cost millions by the ?so called best reffree in the world? Collina.

Carragher should also have been sent off as he was going to be booked for dissent but after a friendly word in knob jockeys ear, he never. He was then later booked but should of walked.
Vivian Latomb
9   Posted 29/10/2007 at 17:18:25

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Saw yesterday Carragher up to his usual tricks. Another inept refereeing performance. Was surprised that the shite were not allowed to keep on going until they got an eventual winner. Would have been a decent weekend if arsenal had won (and should have), especially after the derby county result.

As has been said on here before, impartial and unbiased refereeing seems to be becoming less and less these days. The likes of poll,styles and that prick we had at goodison are ruining the game. Think of the number of times a smaller club has been screwed over by an official in favour of the biggest, more powerful team.

I suppose you could include ourselves in there regarding the derby - but wait! - i am not saying we are a small club. you understand though what i mean. Lets hope whosever in charge in bedfordshire on wednesday we have it in ourselves to progress into the quarter finals. As much as the league cup is berated by many it bugs me that in our illustrious history we have never managed to get our hands on it. 1977 and 84 still rankles also with me.
Martin Anderson
10   Posted 29/10/2007 at 21:18:51

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I think we were really unlucky against the filth last w/e, with Clattenburg having a shocker, but he is only human and we will have revenge later in the season - mark my words!

One other thing - you must see the article about the great Martin Dobson in todays Times!!! Does anyone recall his 30 yard cracker against Coventry one cold grey Mersey day back in the early 70’s!!

Eric L
11   Posted 29/10/2007 at 23:08:47

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I still want to see all those games from 1977 Epic Everton vs Villa. I know there is a DVD out of Villa’s League cup wins - I wonder if it has the replays too. Bob Latchford says Everton were unlucky in that ’test series’.

Anyone attend that ?
Matt Hooper
12   Posted 30/10/2007 at 01:01:35

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I would like to agree with all the previous comments, and whilst being an Arsenal fan, i can accept that clubs at the top do get the benfit of any doubt more often than not. But i find this notion of a big four utterly ridiculous. It is a load of old tosh made up by Sky. I dont for a minute believe that Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger think they are part of some collective, it is quite clear all four so-called big four clubs actually hate each other, and if there is a big four it is - Liverpool (Sorry!!), Man United, Arsenal and Everton. I do know my history!
It is a sad fact of life and sports that those at the top get away with more, just look at Lewis Hamilton and McLaren! I genuinely believe that there are as many as 8 clubs capable of finishing in the top 4, Everton one of them. It is no longer a gauaranteed win for Arsenal, which it was a few years back, that is credit to David Moyes and his management style.
Good luck to Everton for the rest of the season.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
13   Posted 30/10/2007 at 04:36:34

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Thanks for your comments, Matt ? the last red-leaning visitors all had to banned for vitriol and abuse so it?s nice to read something civil, articulate and intelligent! I don?t share your conviction that there is no such thing as the big four, however. They may not identify as a collective and may detest each other as much as you say but even if it is a self-fulfilling Sky-induced prophecy, I think that the notion exists.

There are four clubs whose financial resources and pulling power clearly outstrip the rest of the Premier League and whose domination of England?s annual Champions League entry is only widening the divide. And you only have to look at Uefa?s pathetic and infuriating pandering to Liverpool in 2005 when they bent their own rules to let a G-14 member back into the CL to realise that some clubs get preferntial treatment over others.

I do agree, though, that it?s a fact of life that the top teams get away with that kind of stuff and were one of the chasing pack to push one of these four clubs out of the way for a few seasons, I?m sure they too would start getting the benefit of a few decisions themselves!
Matt Hooper
14   Posted 30/10/2007 at 12:24:33

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I would just like to point out that Chelsea are not a member of the G-14, and that the G-14 were the ones that pushed for the top four in our league to get into the Champions League, otherwise it would be an even more select and unbreakable group.

I think it is a big issue the same teams getting into the Champions League, that is why the UEFA Cup shouldnt exist, and all clubs should play in the same cup, say the top 6 plus the cup winners. This would mean 6 or 7 of the Premier League teams having funds to spend from the Champions League.

I’d also like to point out that Arsenal are the only club in the ’big-four’ not to have a big money investor. Out of the so-called big four, who do Everton fans believe is the most corrupt or benefits the most from dodgy decisions?
John Lloyd
15   Posted 30/10/2007 at 15:19:17

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True Matt, Chelsea are not a member of the G14 but have lobbied for membership (as your beloved gunners did not so long ago) but with the resources provided to them by Mr Abramovich they have to be looked at as a seperate entity as they have as much sway in the game at present.

In answer to your question I think (only an opinion mind you) that it is not one club who gets more preferential treatment rather it is the ’top 4’ that are 9/10 looked upon favorably by referees. I feel its due to a combination of familiarity/awe of top players which these clubs have in abundance and the fact that these clubs all have high profile people (managers/players/directors) who can make a big deal if decisions go against them.

Also it seems that it is always the top 4 that have players who constantly embarress themselves by chasing referees 30/40 yards over the slightest decision yet at same time conning the man by throwing themselves everywhere or protesting innocence at an obvious infringement (the BIGGEST curse on todays game is dishonesty of players bar none).

If you have a butchers through this site you will see what has got our backs up was not the favor that the top4 do and will continue to recieve, it was the shameless, pile of shite, plain old cheating cunt Mark ’I know stevie G’ Twattenberg. I hope he fucking rots for that performance, the cunt.
Matt Hooper
16   Posted 30/10/2007 at 15:40:33

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Completely agree. Dishonesty is the evil of football today, from under tens up to premier league level, in every major league. It seems to be more highlighted and intensified by the amount of live games on television today. I agree about the gerrard incident, i watched it on tv and couldnt believe what i was watching. It was a completely unsporting piece of behaviour. My dads an everton fan and i’ve been to goodison a few times, so i know exactly what you all think. I just think that Arsenal and Man Utd are certainly less likely to be corrupt than Chelsea and Liverpool, they play the best football and on the whole play by the rules, although that is not always the case. I think familiarity could be gotten rud of easily by having foreign referees in our league. Where do you think Everton would be in the league if technology was used and fairer decisions were made?
John Lloyd
17   Posted 30/10/2007 at 16:09:48

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I’m glad you agree on the dishonesty, its the only downside I can put on foreign footballers coming over.

I have to disagree on one opint though, especially with regards to Man utd teams I think that they have had so many decisions given thier way or not given against them just because the referees (or linesman) we’re plain old too scared to get fergies back up or the crowd or have 7/8 snarling spitting united players chasing him down. Thats cowardice, plain & simple.

As for you last point, I think the league would pretty much be as it is barring one or two places if all decisions were correct (I think there is a league table on the net somewhere what show the league if the refs had got it right, dont know name/link sorry) I think Everton & Arsenal would of beaten Liverpool this past week barring bad decisions from referees, but I hate getting into a blame game thing as most Evertoninans will tell you we shoot ourselves in the foot as much as a referee (Clattenberg, C Thomas, Poll, Colina excluded).

Its a shame your old man never passed his obvious football wisdom onto you Matt my old mucker, and gave you the gift of being an evertoninan although I will say as a football fan the way your lot play is how the game should be played, bar none & Wenger is (IMHO) the best modern football manager in my lifetime. Absolute genius.

Do wish your players would man up a little bit though, toughen up, stop diving about & crying to referees (Toure & Gallas ha ha) if they mastered that I honestly believe they could become one of the best teams we’ve ever seen. 2nd to the most talented and tough team ever to play the game. Everton 1984-87 what a unit!
Ian Fairclough
18   Posted 30/10/2007 at 16:20:39

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I say leave the Spaniard where he is, hes nearly doing as good as Sooey.He will destroy them.
Matt Traynor
19   Posted 31/10/2007 at 20:18:29

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As the author of the original article, which was intended for a newspaper out here but was canned as it was "too late" - which was Mediaspeak here for too controversial (WTF?) It was written objectively, but trying to be impartial - which I find easy anyway for reasons I’ll explain elsewhere. It is good to know that fans of other teams read Toffeeweb. Hope your various bosses don’t monitor Internet usage at work!!
Mike Allison
20   Posted 31/10/2007 at 21:33:48

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I actually thought you were rather soft in the original article. What you list as ’controversy one’ is in fact two separate incidents that happen to be close to each other. The replay does indeed clearly show the first contact to be Gerrard on Hibbert, what happens next is that Gerrard deliberately trails his leg in front of Hibbert causing him to run over it. By then Gerrard is already on his way down. This is simulation by Gerrard and he has escaped any kind of criticism for it. I don’t blame Clattenburg for this as it must have looked like a foul to him. The obvious changing of a yellow card to a red surely needs some explanation, even if its just "I don’t know why I took out the yellow card, as I thought it was a professional foul all along". In this case continued silence is suspicious.

Kuyt’s was an obvious red card, I will accept no explanation from Clattenburg for that, and there were actually two penalty appeals, the first being the kind that Liverpool would get at Anfield, Man Utd at Old Trafford etc. but never Everton. The second, again, I will accept no explanation, Clattenburg is not good enough to referee a game of that size.

One last dishonourable mention to Jamie Carragher himself, a man so dishonest he can’t even tell himself the truth as he swore blind that it wasn’t a penalty because it was "a man’s game".

Its amazing how quiet Liverpool fans seem to have been about this ’victory’ as well. Actually, as a group they’ve gone up in my estimation, maybe I’ve been lucky, but the ones I know or have come across seem to have been suitably embarrassed by the whole thing, possibly even ashamed.
Matt Traynor
21   Posted 01/11/2007 at 00:49:07

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Mike, I agree, but as I stated - the article was meant for a newspaper out here, and I didn’t want to be accused of being a bitter blue. I wasn’t. We were watching it (loads of us, plus loads of neutrals and even Liverpool fans - they watch our games with us cos we have a party and go mental, and a couple of fit models who are blues now).

As people have said before - we’ve been there before, Poll, Thomas, Hackett (although to be fair we won the 2nd replay 1-0 and if he had given the pen in the first game at Anfield, we’d never have had THAT 4-4 game at Goodison).

If I’d written the article for TW in the first place, boy would I have cut loose!!!

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