Leeds Robbed at Millwall by a Blatant Dive and an Incompetent Ref – by Rob Atkinson

Clear daylight, but the ref saw contact and a foul

We knew it would be tough at Millwall, it’s always tough at Millwall. We accept this every time we go there, without necessarily being able to deal with it. Under normal circumstances, the failure to deal with it is down to us and, unpalatable though the usually inadequate results are when we play at the New Den, we just have to take it on the chin.

Defeat, after all, is part of the game, something we have to accept if not exactly relish. What no club should be expected to accept, certainly not on the regular basis that is the experience of Leeds United, is defeat as a result of blatant cheating by the opposition, backed up by incompetence verging on idiocy by a succession of referees and assistants. It’s a factor thrown under a merciless spotlight at the moment, because of the use of VAR in the Premier League. A few days back, man u looked set, for the umpteenth time, to escape an equaliser by their opponents to win an undeserved three points. I literally cannot count the number of times I’ve seen this happen in favour of that particular establishment-beloved club, but this time it was different. The goal was shown to be onside by a margin of at least a yard, with the original call exposed as criminally incompetent – and, lo, man u had to settle for a point, all thanks to VAR.

At Millwall, it was a decision – or rather, two decisions – of comparable incompetence by referee James Linington that cost Leeds the match. Up against a team that habitually treats this fixture as a cup final, Leeds had to hope at least for a level playing field. Instead, they got a referee who saw a foul where there was none, and compounded his mistake by sending off the non-offender Gaetano Berardi, even though Kalvin Phillips was in a covering position to negate an obvious goalscoring opportunity. It was a situation in which the ref had to lean over backwards to rule against United, but he willingly contorted himself, as so many have done before him. After that, Leeds had a mountain to climb, a goal and a man down against highly-charged opponents.

It’s just the latest in a long line of similarly sickening situations for Leeds, a thought clearly in the mind of owner Andrea Radrizzani when he later tweeted his frustration about “wrong decisions”. United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was also in evidence on social media, angry and frustrated as he posted on Instagram the image at the head of this piece. These are not sour grapes, they are the legitimate complaints of professional men who know they’re not getting a fair shake. I’ve been told that this particular referee has sent off United players on the last three occasions he’s officiated us, all defeats. If that’s true – and I’m just too heart-sick to check – then it would appear there’s some sort of case for Linington, the EFL, or both to answer.

What happens next will be interesting to say the least. Will the Millwall swallow-diver be held to account for “simulation” (cheating)? Will he be accused of successfully deceiving a referee, even if one might argue that said referee was quite open, nay eager, to be so deceived? Will Berardi’s red card be rescinded as it certainly should be? On none of these issues will I be holding my breath for justice from a Football League bang to rights on incompetence, complacency and corruption.

It’s difficult to see how things are going to improve. To secure the possible protection of VAR, we need to be in the Premier League – but in order to get there, when the Football League seems determined to hold us in its clammy embrace, we would probably need VAR to spare us the serial incompetence of the League’s officials. So it’s apparently a Catch-22 situation for United.

The strange thing is, I’m not really all that keen on VAR, having always been of a traditionalist point of view, believing that a bit of controversy here and there is a necessary spice for our football fare. But, when that spice is unevenly sprinkled, with Leeds in particular being almost smothered by controversy as victims of half-baked decision making – well, what can you say or do?

If VAR can actually stop, or at least reduce, an endless torrent of dodgy decisions in favour of the Media-Beloved United, then maybe it could also mitigate the decades-long suffering of the Damned United.

And, for that alone, I’d be willing to embrace the technology. Yes, even at the cost of a little bit of football’s soul.

24 responses to “Leeds Robbed at Millwall by a Blatant Dive and an Incompetent Ref – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Ken jarvis

    Great reading as usual Rob.

    I mentioned VAR for Leeds United last season after so many dodgy calls went against us.

    This season has been no different, i’ve lost count of the penalty shouts not given & the nasty cynical tackles like the stamp on Cooper the other night.

    The penalty & sending off on Saturday were an absolute joke & to read that this referee has history in sending off a Leeds player in his previous 3 Leeds matches, the club needs to make a statement to the footballing world that this referee is not acceptable in doing future Leeds matches.

    It about time our great club stood up & said enough is enough of the dreadful referees that officiate our matches on a continual basis

    Let’s see if Berardi wins the appeal & the 3 match ban is applied to the Millwall cheat.

    BTW, I can’t remember Leeds ever having a red card being recinded so I hold my breath on that one.

    VAR for Leeds United ASAP so that we can bin these USELESS officials once & for all

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Steve Trebert


    Good to hear your take on this one and yes the particular man in charge of the proceedings who goes by the description of a ref , indeed has a blatant bios for sending off Leeds players. I wonder if he comes from the other side of the Pennines.
    Hopefully the video’s on all the media out there is ample proof of his incompetence and he is relegated to the Premiership where VAR will sort him out.


  3. Even if it wasn’t a penalty, then why does Berardi get sent off every three games that he plays in ?. Getting sent off seems to follow him around and at 5ft 9 he’s certainly no centre back, in what is becoming a modern game of tall centre backs and tall strikers.
    Berardi should have left in the summer, rather than Jansson, Halme and O’Connor. That was really great business by the excuse merchant – Mr Radrizanni.
    Also, if Leeds had a tallish goalscoring striker and goalscoring midfielders, then games would be put to bed after 10 minutes, instead of struggling and constantly moaning about officials like relegation teams do every week.
    Rob we were definitely robbed at Millwall, but this shot shy Leeds team would probably still have lost the game with 11 men on the pitch and the usual 75% possession and 1000 passes.
    Yes, the incompetent Football League, refs and jealous clubs, all hate Leeds, but Radrizanni hasn’t invested properly in the paper-thin Leeds squad to get out of this horrible division and it will cost Leeds yet again.
    Bielsa will eventually walk, because he can’t do miracles with an increasing injury list and a weaker squad than last season.


  4. I personally have to wonder if there’s also an element of bias on Linington’s part, rather than simple incompetence.
    According to Whoscored.com, he has refereed 132 matches in his career and issued 19 Red Cards for an average of 0.14 Red Cards per match. Leeds United played 7 of those 132 matches, and has received 4 Red Cards at his hands, for an average of 0.57 Red Cards per match. Leeds is also the only team to receive more than two Red Cards at his hands in his entire career.
    The same site also lists Leeds United as having received an average of 0.09 Red Cards per match from all referees. The only referee with a higher Red Card average is Gary Sutton who only refereed 1 match for Leeds United so his single Red Card can’t be considered in an average.
    In fact, if you look at all referees who have officiated at 5 or more of Leeds last 290 matches, James Linington issues by far the most Red Cards per match, with the next highest referee showing only 0.22 Red Cards per match.


  5. James Chapman

    Although I live 10,000 miles away in Perth Australia I am Leeds for life as being born there. I have LUTV which I pay for each week so I can watch the team games in full albeit a couple of days later.
    We were robbed full stop with that penalty!!!!!
    What a crap decision. I watched it in slomo, that player needs to get what Bamford got for faking a smack. Give him six weeks for costing a team three points


  6. Michael Blower

    Get over it, beaten fair and square. The defender immediately threw his hands up in acknowledgment of the trip and no Leeds player complained until they saw the card coming out.


  7. Robert Parr

    I’m sorry Rob, I’m past all the incompetence theories and now fully believe the referee’s decision was pre- meditated, based on EFL instruction!
    As soon as I saw Berardi on the team sheet I said he would be the fall guy.
    I’m starting to completely did engage with football. This has gone on long enough!


  8. Rob, my thoughts completely. That was never a penalty – it wasn’t even close – but a red card too? I’d say that referee should be firmly under the microscope for, at the very least, incompetence – or, more likely, complicity.
    I’ve not checked through the records either, but if it’s true that this guy has a track record of brandishing red cards at Leeds players, then that’s surely worthy of an investigation. Or at the very least, he should be quietly dropped from officiating any future Leeds matches – just as Tinkler was all those years ago.


  9. Reality Cheque

    I totally agree with your observations of the red card “incident” Rob but was going to accuse our club of being mind bogglingly naïve & delusional for even considering appealing against Berardi’s red card/suspension. Then I remembered that I had predicted to you that we would win thanks to a Bamford hat-trick so I have concluded that I am not in a position to make judgements on anyone else’s sanity!
    Now where did my carer say she was leaving my medication? LOL


  10. Peter crouch

    As usual Leeds will ave to do hard way we ave always been fighters and we will fight to get back where we belong even dodgy refs and cheating players always love Leeds and get behind the lads thanks !


  11. Jim newhowr

    Why is it you managers always complain when u lose a match through a dodgy decision.. You never complain when the decision goes your way which it dose on many occasions.. But when u play the wall you go there and think you just have to turn up and you will win..
    To b honest. Why can’t you just accept it.. Jim


    • It’s noticeable that the Millwall fans responding to this are quite happy to have won courtesy of a disgusting decision and with their player having blatantly cheated. But that’s Millwall for you 🙄


  12. Today the Labour Party announced plans to stop corruption in football… In other news unicorns were spotted on the Moon!


  13. Roger Borton

    Very well said and so eloquently put. That ref should be sacked, so obviously not up to the job. Bang on about the scum as well.


  14. You must hate playing us. You thought we were going to go down last year hence your condescending little article but no – we’re still here, still a fly in your ointment. Get over it – we were the better side on the first half. You were better in the second, even with ten men. But you still didn’t have a shot on target. That should worry you. Anyway, jog on.


    • Ladies and Gentlemen – the first ‘Wall fan to show signs of embarrassment over the shoddy way they “won” that game – even though he tries to hide his shame with bluster.


  15. Life is LUFC

    If all the wallers had two brains each the other one would always be lonely 🥴
    That ref should be put against THE WALL and made to watch 1000 times a real foul from which a penalty kick is justifiably given and when to apply any card red or yellow. Once he has the hang of the rule sack him and fine him £200,000 followed by a ban from all football related activity this includes watching matches live and on telly for life. To round it all off fire him to another planet along with that Harvey bloke from the EFL.
    Beradi must have thought it was Christmas to have the the ban rescinded.


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