Tag Archives: impartiality

FA Defends Appointment of Man U Fan for Home Fixture Against Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

Paul Pogba congratulates Taylor on another fine decision for Man Utd

In a move hardly calculated to reinforce perceptions of fairness and impartiality, the FA have chosen Wythenshawe born official Anthony Taylor as referee for this Sunday’s meeting of Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford (kick off 4:30pm). It is, of course, quite possible that this appointment is free from any taint of bias and favouritism. The question remains: with the choice of any Premier League referee, why pick one from a man u stronghold six miles from Old Trafford, whose family are strongly rumoured to hold season tickets for the Red Devils?

Actually, it’s not quite true to say that any Premier League referee could have been picked to referee this particular match, as Yorkshire’s Martin Atkinson is ineligible due to his White Rose roots – do you begin to see the difficulty here?

The problem for Anthony Taylor is that he does not wish to be excluded from involvement in some of the so-called “biggest games in the Premier League calendar”, and is therefore most anxious to scotch any rumours that he has any emotional ties to Old Trafford. In fact, he claims, winking furiously and concealing crossed fingers behind his back, he’s a supporter of Altrincham FC – so that’s ok then.

It is further claimed in defence of Mr Taylor’s impartiality that he is a founder member of a Manchester-wide organisation of football people which was formed to promote Mancunian football as a whole, rather than the interests of any one club. Soccer Can Unite Manchester (SCUM) has been close to Anthony’s heart for many years, according to one neutral Mancunian who wished to be known only as Fred the Red. Another witness for Mr Taylor who doesn’t even live in Manchester, hailing instead from Devon, has pointed out that Leeds United’s last visit to Old Trafford had ended up with man u going out of the FA Cup. “We’m didn’t even get a penalty and Jerrrmaaaaine Beckford was only a yaaaaaarrrd onsoide, and it wasn’t fair,” said our man in Ilfracombe, neutrally, “So ‘opefully Aaaaanthony can help set thaaaat record straight”.

All eyes will be on Anthony Taylor this Sunday, which is perhaps not the most conducive of circumstances in which to operate in a professional manner. Everybody is also aware that Man U have had an extraordinarily large number of penalties awarded this season and last, and many punters are placing heavy bets, not on whether the home side will get a spot kick, but rather on how many they will get, with two being the marginal favourite. But the FA have defended their appointment of Mr Taylor, saying “We are sure that, as Howard Webb has now retired, Anthony is the best possible man for this match, and that he will act entirely as we expect him to. Come on yooouu Reeee-eds!”

Alan Hardaker, 108, has let it be known (through a medium) that he entirely approves of this appointment.

No Official Response to WHY Mancunian Ref Taylor Was Picked for Man Utd Match – by Rob Atkinson

Former Man U favourite Howard Webb celebrates with his team-mates... but at least he wasn't from Manchester

Former Man U favourite Howard Webb celebrates with his team-mates… but at least he wasn’t from Manchester…

Leeds United fans have cause to remember Wythenshawe referee Anthony Taylor – not too fondly, though – for his performance in a game between United and Middlesbrough early in the 2011/12 season. Taylor contrived to send off Jonny Howson and Max Gradel of Leeds as well as Boro’s Tony McMahon in a game which then United manager Simon Grayson described as “not having a dirty tackle in it”. Middlesbrough won the match 1-0.

That might well establish Mr. Taylor as a referee of less than optimal competence, certainly in Whites fans’ eyes – and yet he has gone on to officiate regularly in the Premier League, appearing to court controversy at about the same rate as any other referee on the roster – less, even, than some that we could name (and have named in the past). The other week, though, proud Mancunian Taylor dropped a particularly public clanger when failing to award a clear penalty against Man U at Newcastle United‘s St James Park, in a game won by the visitors with a late goal. Tim Krul gifted an easy chance to Ashley Young, who snapped it up before he could even remember to dive – and another Man U smash and grab was done. Same as it ever was, you might say. A penalty not given against Man U and a spawny late winner for them too – what’s so unusual?

The major issue here, though, may not have been the missed penalty – nor even the unsavoury spitting incident that Cisse of Newcastle admitted and apologised for, with Evans of Man U characteristically denying any wrongdoing, in accordance with club policy – despite clear video evidence. No, the real bugbear here is the fact that – for no apparent reason and with no possible justification – the authorities saw fit to appoint a Mancunian referee for a match involving a Manchester-based club.

To my knowledge, there was always a rule whereby a referee from the same area as one of the teams contesting a match would not be selected to take that fixture. That just seems like good, plain common sense, and I haven’t heard of any change to what was always a rigidly-observed convention. The not exactly infrequent situation whereby what seemed an obvious penalty was not awarded against Man U becomes even more unfortunate and embarrassing when combined with this additional and avoidable referee situation. Why on earth would the authorities court even more controversy than arises as a matter of routine, every time Man U get off scot free on a stonewall penalty shout?

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything has been a loud and frequent critic of the kid-glove treatment that is still handed out to the Pride of Devon, even now in these post-Ferguson times when – presumably – the powers that be are in somewhat less of a state of abject fear than they were when the Demented One was in charge of Man U and, by extension, the game. So this is not, perhaps, a voice that will be seen to be particularly impartial or unbiased. And yet the facts speak for themselves. It is simply true to state that rarely a month goes by without some blatantly naff decision in favour of the denizens of the Theatre of Hollow Myths. It’s no secret, and there’s plenty of internet wringing of hands that goes on about it, with a predictably bland and complacent attitude on the part of both Man U, their hordes of armchair fans and the nominal rulers of the game. But to have them allocated their own, local referee as well, for a game that might well have been tricky for van Gaal’s men had decisions gone as they perhaps should – that really rather does take the biscuit, if not the actual urine sample.

I’ve not been able to find any guidance or regulation which formalises rules as regards geographical origin of referees insofar as it’s relevant to any particular fixture – I’m aware that there are some pretty nifty sleuths out there though, so any input to clear the matter up would be welcome. But it’s surely just common sense and good practice to select an official who hails from as far as possible from the homes of any two competing teams. It just makes for a fairer feel to proceedings. And – let’s face it – you could actually choose a ref from Devizes, and he’d be just as likely an adoring fan of “Nitid” as not. Those glory-seekers are all over the place, after all. But it rubs the nose of every fan of every other club in the league well and truly in it, to make such a daft and open-to-suspicion appointment as a Mancunian ref for a Man U match.

Are they really that stupid at the FA and/or EPL? Are they really that loftily complacent and arrogant as not to bother even giving the impression of ensuring fair play?? The distasteful combination of yet another bottled penalty decision, together with the fact that it was a blatantly Manc ref that bottled it, leaves a decidedly nasty taste in the mouth.

So what are these idiots and incompetents actually up to? I first asked this question immediately after the game in question. Predictably, there has been zero response. But, surely, it’s time we were told.

Is Shaun Harvey the Right Man to Rule on Leeds Takeover? – by Rob Atkinson


Shaun Harvey – smile on the face of the jackal?

The natural state of any football fan is one of unease, dissatisfaction, maybe even a touch of paranoia. The game is like that; it builds you up, raises your expectations – and then brings you crashing down to earth with an almighty bump. There are exceptions, of course. Some sets of fans have it easy by regular standards. But there are few hiding places, few protected bubbles of success. Even Man U fans, in their Devon armchairs, have experienced the bitter tang of reality this season.

How much more likely is it, then, that we fans of Leeds United will view the world outside of our own beloved club with a jaundiced and suspicious eye, ready at any time for some or other callous institution to do us a bad turn. Look at our history over the past half-century, and there’s never been too long between one grievous injustice and the next.

Now we wait for the Football League to pass judgement on a takeover that might just see us free of the sucking morass of poverty that’s been dragging us down for so long. We are looking at two sharply diverging paths ahead: upwards towards top-flight glory with funding appropriate to the size of the club – or back down among the dead men, without a pot to do the proverbial in, headed for another administration and ruing the day. Which shall it be? Leeds United must await the long, gleefully drawn-out pleasure of the Football League.

And who, pray, sits at the head of the body making this future-defining judgement? Why, it is none other than Shaun Harvey, erstwhile CEO of Leeds United in the unlamented Bates years, complicit in the actions which typified the reign of a man who once swore to bring about the death of our club, if he possibly could. When Bates finally fell, Harvey was finished at Leeds too. The two acted in tandem during a nightmare period for United and, in the minds of Whites fans, there was little to choose between them in the final analysis.

So how has a man with such baggage as this ended up as the ultimate arbiter in a case with such grave implications for a famous old football club to which he contributed no great service during his time there? How could such a possible conflict of interests have been allowed to transpire? Can real justice be done here? Can it be seen to be done??

It’s certainly not an ideal situation, is it – not by any stretch of the imagination. But, lest we forget, the League have prior form for tolerating what would seem to be blatant conflicts of interest regarding Leeds, and in the fairly recent past, too. During United’s first season in League One, the thorny issue of the 15 point deduction – the controversy which eventually denied Leeds an immediate, automatic promotion – was voted on by fellow League clubs, many of whom, our League One rivals, had a vested interest in keeping Leeds at that level, thereby benefiting from our phenomenal away support.

Was justice served? It ended up as a massively complex and technical question. But was it seen to be served? Those vested interests, that undeniable conflict between parochial benefits and the greater good – they say no. Nottingham Forest, the direct beneficiaries of this carve-up, would argue the opposite as they celebrated an unearned promotion. But the whole thing left a nasty taste which persists to this day.

Neither, in the instant case, will justice be seen to have been done if Shaun Harvey should be instrumental in any decision to deny United the lifeline that Cellino appears to represent. Rumours from London cabbies about possible South African consortia aside, the Italian seems to be the only game in town. If he is now compelled to walk away, Leeds will almost certainly be in dire straits, unable to meet running costs, tumbling headlong towards another administration and all that that entails. Is that what the League, under Harvey, actually want? Many United fans of a certain age, able to remember the malice and vindictiveness towards Leeds United of one Alan Hardaker, will nod glumly and say “Aye, most bloody likely they do.”

If Leeds are to be cheated of their saviour, must it really be signalled by a Judas in the reptilian form of Shaun Harvey, poised to betray his former club with the kiss of death? Couldn’t they at least maintain a semblance of judicial disinterest, reaching a decision without the dubious input or decisive vote of Bates’ former henchman – leading as it might to a fulfilment of old Ken’s 30 years-ago vow to kill Leeds United off once and for all?

If things pan out that way, everyone will know that there’s something rotten in the state of our football administration. Anomalies like this should not crop up, not when the fate of a football club – which, let’s not forget, looms so large in so many thousands of lives – is quite probably at stake.

Let’s have the right decision, by the League’s own rules – the standards that permit paragons of virtue like Carson Yeung, Vincent Tan and Assem Allam to run various of our clubs. Cellino would be OK by that reckoning – so let him get in and get on with saving the club which gave English League Football its finest team.

But if it all goes wrong – well. We’ll know at whom to point the accusing finger of blame – won’t we?