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The Biggest Threat to Everton?s Progress

By James Crolla :  28/02/2008 :  Comments (44) :

Why am I so concerned about the remainder of the season and the possible implications to Everton?s long term progress? Surely our recent form, combined with the steady improvement of our management and playing staff would suggest that we could and should be playing Champions League football next season? However, there is a dark and real threat and it?s not Manchester City, Portsmouth, Aston Villa or even Liverpool — it is the football authorities.

I genuinely believe that Everton have gained the respect of most clubs in the premier league, even to the extent that they would support Everton ahead of Liverpool and Chelsea to break the dominance of the so called ?top 4?. All supporters are sick of the lack of consistency shown by the FA and Premier League and the very apparent bias toward the ?top 4?. Recent examples spring to mind that emphasise my point, but it?s not just the injustice against Everton but it is the injustice against other teams that has started to make my blood boil.

The way the FA has conducted itself recently (Middlesbrough) is absolutely disgraceful. It is worse than inconsistent and I would go as far to say that it proves that the FA is rotten to the core. Do we think the FA will use evidence to retrospectively punish the Liverpool player for raising his hands, of course not! It would be disastrous to the FA and Premier League if Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal or Man Utd were not playing Champions League Football next season.

English Football is now a global brand and subsequent revenue is imperative to sustain that position. It has been founded on an image, created by the football authorities, of 4 superpower football clubs which will promote the brand overseas. Any threat to the ?big 4? is a threat to the global brand that is English Football.

Now back to Everton, I am often frustrated by our great club and now great players when we play the game in the right way. Am I wrong to think this way, as surely this has helped to gain the respect of most football supporters? The best example is Phil Neville, he was pleading with the referee on Monday night not to send off Petrov. Did we get the same treatment from Fabregas when Arteta was sent off? We certainly didn?t get the same treatment from Gerrard when Hibbert was dismissed! Come to think of it I don?t remember any Everton players suggesting to Clattenburg that Kuyt should have been dismissed in the same game (MY BLOOD IS STARTING TO BOIL AGAIN).

It?s the same with the Johnson ?diving? claim and the impact it has had since on penalty appeals. Yet again Everton acted responsibly presenting evidence to the FA at the end of last season, but we have not had a penalty since.

There are many more examples but I think there is enough to prove my point. There is no doubt that Everton?s performance on the pitch and actions off it has gained much respect amongst football supporters but I am sure there will be more examples between now and the end of the season if Everton continue to threaten the dominance of the ?big 4?. Is it possible that the ?top 4? will always be the same teams to maintain the global brand, and teams like Everton will be respected but will never be allowed to compete on a level playing field?

Reader Comments

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Matt Geraghty
1   Posted 28/02/2008 at 18:35:41

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Hi James, even after reading your article, I still don’t know who Everton’s biggest threat is/ are - are you saying that its all a conspiricy by the FA?
Brian Hill
2   Posted 28/02/2008 at 18:35:03

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This is nonsense. The FA is completely honest and open and would never dream of being remotely associated with bias towards certain teams - you should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting the possibility. Please submit a grovelling retraction. And by the way, Steven Gerrard has never dived....
Josh Doherty
3   Posted 28/02/2008 at 19:00:09

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Brian Hill, do you support the red shite? Good article James and I 100% agree. I think the refereeing performance at Blackburn proves your point. Everton aren’t allowed to finish fourth! Its one rule for the big four and another for everyone else.
Ian Tunny
4   Posted 28/02/2008 at 19:10:55

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Its strange how Boro can have a ban increased but the Liverpool player who instigated or provoked the whole incident gets away scot free. Petrov is given a 3 match ban for doing exactly the same thing as Gallas on Nani but Gallas gets nothing. The mind boggles.

To think we haven't had a penalty in the league the whole season when we've got the most fouled player in the league in the shape of Arteta and Andy Johnson who is always getting clipped in the box is just too unlikley for us not to be awarded a penalty.
Is there a hidden agenda to stop other clubs breaking into the top 4? The commentater on Monday said Everton and City were the only 2 clubs not to have been awarded penalties in the league and we had the ref who had given the most pens but even with at least 2 big shouts none were given. What are the chances?

As soon as one of our players leaves the club like McFadden they're giving pens away nearly every game! Something definitely stinks when you think how many pens we've had in Europe in far fewer games when we have fair refs with no hidden agenda.
Dean Johnson
5   Posted 28/02/2008 at 19:35:26

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Definitely Ian

I think that the standard of refereeing in Europe is the perfect example to stress James?s point.

But when the chips are down against a G14 club, well, we all know what happened there. Could history repeat itself again? We can still catch Chelsea anyway! :-)
Alan McGuffog
6   Posted 28/02/2008 at 19:39:38

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Absolutely spot on James.
You don?t have to be a paid up grassy knollist to suspect that the powers that be are shit scared that these clubs might just take their brands and join some European League if some upstarts begin to challenge them.
Personally I should be delighted if they did. The Premiership...Murdoch.....Stevie G....Lamps.....fuckin? Becks. Cobblers !
( Sorry had a bit of a bad day )
Andy Duff
7   Posted 28/02/2008 at 20:34:17

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I agree totaly. I am a season ticket holder and have witnessed differences in refs attitudes when playing the sky4. They seem to get the majority of the 50 50 decisions. Normally you would expect the home team to get the rub of the green.
When it comes to penalties makes the blood boill thinking of it. Maybe the fans of all the remaining teams should petition fifa and complain about the FA and UEFA.
The whole Boro incident today was the icing on the cake for me. How after reviewing it did they not then carge Mascherano. If that had been Carsley you can bet your last pound he would have been.

Jay Harris
8   Posted 28/02/2008 at 20:53:41

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I actually wrote to the premier league about this incident and the blatantly apparent favouritism shown to Liverpool and Man U.
Needless to say I?m still waiting for an answer.
Jay Harris
9   Posted 28/02/2008 at 20:58:20

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By the way if any of you want to write to complain here?s the email addy.

And here?s the response I got to my last complain about Clatterbung:

Dear Jason

Thank you for your email regarding the referee?s performance at the weekend fixture. We are sorry that you were disappointed with the performance in that match.

There is not a formal mechanism for individuals to complain about referees? performances and decisions. However, I thought it would be helpful for you to know the process undertaken by the Professional Games Match Officials, the body which employs all the referees, to monitor, scrutinise and improve the referees performances throughout the season.

Please be assured that the performance of the referee in this fixture, together with all performances by the Select Group Referees, will be reviewed with him in detail in a number of different ways. There is constant monitoring of referees? performances, with a view to improving their performance from week to week. Referees are given both positive feedback and are appropriately criticised if it is felt that decisions were wrong.

The referee?s technical performance in a match is assessed by the Independent Assessor, and their overall handling of the match is reported on by an Independent Match Delegate, who is often a former player, manager or coach. These reports focus on the referee?s fitness, his control of the match, the way that he deals with key incidents as well as the way he communicates his decisions. These reports are shared with the referees on both a formal and informal basis. The aim is to help the referee to improve his performance, taking into account the scrutiny of each performance.

There are a range of tools available to help referees, including coaching, fortnightly feedback sessions and technology. In addition, the Select Group of Referees meet on a fortnightly basis, giving all the referees an opportunity to communicate and discuss issues of concern and ensure a greater consistency of performance.

The aim of the Professional Game Match Officials is to help referees to improve their performance from week to week.

I do hope the above helps clarify how we are constantly trying to improve and maintain standards of refereeing.

Thank you for taking the time to make us aware of your views.

Kind regards,

Communications Team

When you?ve finished laughing thats the contempt we?re treated with by the prem and referees.
Graham Penfold
10   Posted 28/02/2008 at 21:03:16

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Totally agree with James, the top 4 have without question been getting the best of 50-50 decisions and appeals for a long time. I?m not so concerned about having to play the 11 men of Liverpool at Anfield it?s their 12th player in black that scares me.

Brian (Hill) perhaps you might wanna reply when you?ve sobered (or woken) up.
Billy Jones
11   Posted 28/02/2008 at 21:17:32

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Something tells me Brian Hill's comments had an air of sarcasm about them, least I hope that?s how they were intended.

Sport on analysis though. Would Gerrard's ban have been increased to four matches like Alliadiere's?? Would it balls...
James Crolla
12   Posted 28/02/2008 at 21:17:02

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No retraction here Brian and certainly none of the grovelling sort. I respect your view but disagree - I suggest we continue this debate when the season has finished. I am very sure there will be more examples of unfair treatment. Lets keep winning well and make unfair treatment more difficult and more obvious! COYB
Will Leaf
13   Posted 28/02/2008 at 22:08:02

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I think it is very safe to say Brian?s comment was dripping with sarcasm.
Alex May
14   Posted 28/02/2008 at 22:46:11

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Dear me. I thought I’d strayed on to bluekipper when I read a couple of the responses to Brian Hill’s post.

· n. the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
? DERIVATIVES sarcastic adj. sarcastically adv.
? ORIGIN C16: from Fr. sarcasme, or via late L. from late Gk sarkasmos, from Gk sarkazein ?tear flesh?, in late Gk ?gnash the teeth, speak bitterly? (from sarx, sark- ?flesh?).
Rob Hollis
15   Posted 28/02/2008 at 23:00:31

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I do not think it is corrupt, I just think that the ?big four? have waged an advertising and PR campaign which has been a great success. So great that referees assume that Gerrard would not dive, that Kuyt did not try to cripple Neville in a moment of madness. So great that commentators think a decent free kick from Ronaldo is the greatest in the world ever, that Radio Five consider Liverpool to be one of the top four when the league positions say they are not. So great that one comment from Wenger leads refs to assume that Andy Johnson has dived even if he was given a solid knee in the middle of the body.
Everyone has bought the image of the league and it?s supposed top clubs. It hurts everybody outside of the PR four and the only way to get some balance is to play the game in the manner Neville does and break up that cozy club. You may have noticed that respect for Chelsea from the media has dipped. This is because the current Manager does not stand at the end of the game and spout off controversial shite. There are no points for being decent nowadays, but I would rather have Moyes honest comments than the garbage from Ferguson, Fattty and Wenger.
David Gee
16   Posted 28/02/2008 at 22:18:53

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I cannot understand how anybody could think that Brian was being anything other than sarcastic...

Regarding referee’s...I live in Aus, having moved here 2 years ago. Watched the city game with a friend who is a Newcastle fan (poor sod!), and both of us could not believe that Everton where not awarded at least 1 penalty!!!

Clattenberg et al have something against AJ and the team, as even some of the most blatent decisions are not given....makes you wonder..

Still, we will just have to do it the hard way, score more points that the team that finishes 5th....god I prey that it is Liverpool and that they make the champ league final and lose that as well......
Roger Jones
17   Posted 28/02/2008 at 23:34:06

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"Still, we will just have to do it the hard way, score more points that the team that finishes 5th....god I prey that it is Liverpool and that they make the champ league final and lose that as well...... "

NO! If that happens, they’ll just have the rules changed so the CL runners-up qualify instead of the EPL fourth placed club - let’s hope they go out before the final.

Back to the main point of the thread though - it should be obvious to all that if you have the vast amounts of money sloshing around the game that are involved these days, corruption must inevitably follow.
Andy Burke
18   Posted 28/02/2008 at 23:41:56

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I don?t beleive for one single minute that Brian was being sacastic. Its true, Steven Gerard never dives.......

On the subject of the post I agree with your view about the FA favouring the top four and really wanting to keep them sweet.

However, I would not think of it as a consipiracy, just a bunch of business men doing what business men do. The big four are big business so they try there best to to keep them happy. Everbody does it at work all of the time if they have important clients, good customers, or just anybody that is important to your business.

In relation to the referees, I do believe that they favour the big four on many decisions, but not because they are told to (that is of course what would make it a conspiracy) but because most of them are crap at their job and therefore do not have enough true knowledge of the teams they referee, their on pitch decisions are blatantly affected by the sound bites of the press.

So, YES to an annoying preference for the big four but a resounding NO to a conspiracy against all other clubs.
Simon Leyden
19   Posted 29/02/2008 at 01:29:23

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To some degree, I agree. However what is the biggest threat to Everton at the moment? None. We’re on fire. Let’s not be interested in what other people are doing around us. Let’s be interested in carrying our own momentum on. If we should have a bad decision against us (like Blackburn) let’s pick ourselves up and get on with it. I am very interested to see how far we can go this season. I believe progress and confidence is the key. Moyes, slowly but surely has been implementing that from day one. We might not be a top 4 brand team but I wouldn’t swap being an honest hard working team for top 4 status any day of the week.
Jason Lam
20   Posted 29/02/2008 at 01:51:20

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It’s just so typical of us doing it the hard way, the Everton way.

There’s still a lot of points to play for, personally I would say RS and Aston Villa are our biggest threat.
Sean Condon
21   Posted 29/02/2008 at 02:03:13

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I am happy that I was not suffering alone on saturday morning in being, yet again, utterly fucking gobsmacked that that prick Mascherano wasn?t sent off for smacking Boro?s lithe French forward in the chops.
Like most of us, I don?t want to believe that Dickhead Scudamore, Hackett, the refs, UEFA and so on, are not in the employ of the devil, the Parallax Corporation, or Dick Cheney. My eyes, however, continue to tell me different.
Nevertheless, we gotta believe that things will change. Without hope, we?re just wastin? our time.
David Ellis
22   Posted 29/02/2008 at 01:53:12

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I disagree with one assumption made by the original article.

Why is it in the best interests of the FA for the big four to dominate? I would have thought the opposite was true. The more money and power is concentrated in a few big clubs the weaker the FA and the Premier League is. The FA and the Premier League will be stronger if the brand of the Premier League is what dominates, rather than the individual club brands.

The FA may well fear a breakaway by the big 4. They would not fear this is if there was no big 4. If say Everton, Tottenham, Villa and City broke away this would not have the FA or the Premier League trembling in their boots because these clubs do not generate a dispproportinate amount of the revenue of the league.

The media and Sky may like the Big 4 to dominate, but that is probably simple laziness. It is not clear to me whether or not it is in Sky’s interests that the Big 4 dominate - it may help because it weakens the bargaining position of the Premier League, but it may not help because it gives bargaining power to these clubs which weakens Sky’s own bargaining power.

It may all well be about money but to understand the effect of money you need to consider carefully who generates it and where it goes - and also the power implications of this. More money generated by the Big 4 gives them more power and therefore less to the FA, Sky and the Premier League. A more level playing field would make the individual clubs weaker and therefore strengthen the Premier League- and probably the FA - with perhaps a neutral effect on Sky.
Brian Hill
23   Posted 29/02/2008 at 04:35:38

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To those of you who have had a sarcasm bypass I have supported Everton for over 40 years. I thought the comment about Gerrard might have been a giveaway....
Paul Watson
24   Posted 29/02/2008 at 05:51:50

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Just an I’m living in Pakistan at the moment. Here we get ESPN and there is a repeated advert for the BPL which has a group of indian lads playing football, you’ve guessed it, in Chelsea,Man U, Arsenal and RS shirts. At the end of the advert the logos of those four clubs are on screen. This is how the BPL is promoted in Asia.

Amusingly every time Man U play, at half time Ronaldo tops Man of the Match voting, several times when he’s not even been playing. God help us!!

Bob Turner
25   Posted 29/02/2008 at 06:56:30

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Paul, that is hilarious about Ronaldo winning MOM even when he’s not playing - this shows what we are up against! But I think we’re getting there - a couple of seasons qualifying for the CL, and they won’t be able to ignore us anymore...
Peter Corcoran
26   Posted 29/02/2008 at 06:56:52

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We are good enough to win without any favours from anyone - so sod the lot of ?em.

The players are starting to really believe in their own abilities!

We can win without help and we will win without help.
Mike Coates
27   Posted 29/02/2008 at 07:25:50

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I see Everton as the team who will stand up, win it on our own, and prove a headache for any bias FA, who wish global income over true justice.
Ajay Gopal
28   Posted 29/02/2008 at 07:43:31

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Paul Watson, you stole my response off my keyboard.

I was about to mention the same advert to support the claim of this thread. Hilarious !
Duncan McLachlan
29   Posted 29/02/2008 at 09:20:39

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Brian. Sarcasm bypass? half of them arn’t old enough to understand even that.

In our day if we wanted to see Everton we had to get up off our arses and go to the game. If we think so strongly that there is a bias. Stop paying out on the media, Sky, Virgin, Setanta, they’ll all go down without our money. Then the FA will have to take notice.

But we don’t want to do that. Do we?
Nick Entwistle
30   Posted 29/02/2008 at 11:33:15

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I wrote about this in my artical

So I agree with this too
Chris Masey
31   Posted 29/02/2008 at 11:58:37

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James, I have studied and researched this side of the game as part of my economics degree, and believe you me, the soul of football has been tainted by greed, almost since the beginning of the Premier League, which incidentally the Everton board lobbyed in favour for.

In my opinion, the achievement of Moyes goes unnoticed, if you take into consideration the amount of resoruces he has employed, compared to the so-called Big 4. It makes our record more remarkable.

In summary, the FA have filfhy pockets, full of agent bungs, and full to the stomach of the big four’s relentless profitability. They are indirectly bought, and now too reliant on the monopoly that runs our decision.

Where we succeed? We have respect for our fans, pride in our football and a burning passion to perform against the grain.

Bring on Anfield, and the paycheque premiership pimp that looks better suited to a spanish restaurant.
Benjamin Coleman
32   Posted 29/02/2008 at 15:03:27

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I’m a Yank who’s only been following the Premiership for about 3 years. It didn’t take long to notice the hegemony that a certain 4 clubs (I hesitate to call them the "big 4" because that plays into their dominant image) have on the league. In many US sports, there are salary caps and profit sharing procedures in place. These things help, but do not entirely eliminate, the dominance of a few clubs. And us Yanks get supremely angry any time a team wins too many championships in a row (e.g.- the New England Patriots). So, I can understand the frustration that man fans of English football must feel at this situation.

From a business perspective, I can see why the 4 clubs are promoted to such a degree. Many of the football adverts, shows and matches on TV here are centered around these clubs and so it’s no surprise that many Yanks who follow the EPL are fans of them. We just don’t get the exposure to great clubs like Everton, unless we go hunting for it.

So in sum, I agree that decisions and rulings go in favor of those 4 clubs in a disproportionate amount of cases. We see similar situations in American sports. However, I’m not sure the best way, if there is any, to remedy the situation. The 4 clubs are so entrenched in the financial welfare of the EPL that it will be hard to reverse things. Smarter folks than I will have to try to tackle the problem, if they are willing.

In the meantime, when teams like Everton break in to the top 4, it will be so much more rewarding knowing that it was done without favoritism from the FA and the officials!

ps- This site is fantastic and is really helping my decision as to whether or not to support Everton!
Graham Penfold
33   Posted 29/02/2008 at 18:40:40

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Sorry Bri, works stress and fatigue contributing to a sarcasm by-pass!
Rupert Sullivan
34   Posted 29/02/2008 at 19:14:05

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I don’t believe you were being sarcastic at all and feel sorry that you need to apologise because you have been browbeaten into it by all these postings... Gerrard doesn’t dive at all - you are quite right.
Liam Young
35   Posted 29/02/2008 at 20:18:30

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I agree there is defineterly a hidden agenda by the FA, funny thing is though, sky are also obsessed with the Top 4, they refuse to even acknowledge evertons acheivements, we should have had at least 2 penalties against city, and petrov’s red card was ridiculous, For everton to be doing what they are with the officials against us, is an acheivement in itself, money talks in football, and thats why everton will not gain that respect, as soon as everton went 4th, sky were talking about the top 3, and liverpool, hilarious. All i can say is, everyone at everton are doing a fantastic job, long may it continue, I much prefer everton keeping tradition and integrity than the top 3+kopite shite selling out to foreign investors. COYB!!!!
Ged McKane
36   Posted 01/03/2008 at 10:52:56

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Is it JUST the FA? Remember Mr Collina?s dubious decisions in the Villarreal game. This man was regarded as the finest refferee in the world, and yet he too appeared to be "toeing the Party line". Everton were NOT wanted in the Champions League in 2005. Will we EVER be accepted? Do we need to change our famous name to Arschelsmanpool?
Robert Carney
37   Posted 01/03/2008 at 11:32:15

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When we think of bias, you only have to go back to Arsene Wenger's rant after the Birmingham game last week.

Only when the lawyers looked at his inflammtory words did he recant. Oh by the way, no apology.
If Jewell, Bruce, Moyes, etc etc had come up with those words they would have been banned for a very long time. This was a verbal attack in the veins of the infamous Cantona drop kick.

I am still waiting to hear of any action from the FA.
Gerry Quinn
38   Posted 01/03/2008 at 12:30:11

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Can we Evertonians not set a trend here and replace all correspondence relating to the "Sky 4", "Big 4", and replace them with more relevant titles such as the "PR 4", the "FA 4", the "Media 4", "Luvvy-Duvvy 4".
If other clubs fans did the same, it may be interesting to note the reaction from the FA, referees, PR 4, and the media, etc.
There may be a real message sent out that their pathetic actions have been sussed out by the majority of loyal team fans fed up with their over-hyped publicity......
Neil Pearse
39   Posted 01/03/2008 at 16:05:52

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Gerry, I simply call them ’The Rich 4’, because that’s what they are.

In terms of the FA, Sky, referees etc. - hold onto your hats! If Liverpool look like losing out in the League to Everton and / or Villa, all hell is going to break loose. The Mascherano incident last week was just one stunning example (you raise your hands to another player, you are off... oh, not of course if you are an RS).

Don’t be at all surprised if the Anfield derby is extremely controversial and Everton players are sent off again. You heard it here first.
Paul Whitehouse
40   Posted 01/03/2008 at 21:41:08

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I think everyone needs a REALITY CHECK.

They're the big 4 because either they have money and win things or in the case of Arsenal, Man U & Liverpool have long standing traditions and are the most succesful clubs in the England.

Until we start to regularly qualify for the CL and win things we can't expect to change this.
Paul Joy
41   Posted 03/03/2008 at 09:17:17

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James, you blame the "Authorities" for the creation of the so called "Big 4" - not so. Lets put responsibility for that with Sky TV. Yes they bankroll the Premier League but they are to blame for what is essentially a spin generated situation. Oh yes they are helped by their minions in the Premiership and by the amateurs in the FA. But the "Big 4" is down to Sky - don’t forget "Grandslam Sunday" - they’re having a laugh if they expect fans to believe that was a coincidence of the fixtures!!!!!
Get over the conspiracy theories.
John Evans
42   Posted 03/03/2008 at 11:41:55

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James I support you 100%. There are clearly dark and evil forces at work at the FA and we must unite to fight this evil. James gather your soldiers. This is a fight we cannot afford to lose! Alone we are nothing, but together we can be strong!! Take care though James. They may be watching you as we speak!
Michael Brien
43   Posted 03/03/2008 at 11:54:46

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James - I agree totally with you with one very important exception - I am glad that Neville appealed to the ref on Petrov’s behalf,I am glad that our lads didn’t all hound the referee when Kuyt did his "kung foo" tackle. When we get to the level of the likes of Arsenal,Man Utd,Chelsea & L’pool - e.g. hounding the referee, appealing for opponents to be sent off etc - then we are no better than they are.

We all know that in the Arsenal game at Goodison, if it had been an Arsenal player who reacted like Arteta did then it would have been a yellow card only.Also if Bendtner’s foul had been commited by an Everton player then it would have been a straight red card.
Even former reds e.g. Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson commented on BBC TV that the reaction by the FA to the incident at the L’pool - Boro ’ game was ridiculous. Sooner or later the FA will realise the damage that their bias is doing to the game as a whole - after all you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
Jonathan Tasker
44   Posted 03/03/2008 at 14:11:12

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After the last time we played the RS , does anyone really think that the match at Anfield is going to be fairly refereed? I reckon we’ve got to beat them at football and beat the referee.

There are lots of poeple with a vested interest for us to not disrupt the so called bigt 4 from finishing in the Top4. Those of you that think otherwise are naive.

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