rss twitter facebook mobile

Do Portsmouth Pay Off The Refs Against Us Or What?

It could have been another Treble. After knocking out Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, a victory against Portsmouth would have seen us needing to beat West Brom in the semi-finals and Cardiff in the final to be awarded the FA Cup.

But a referee, who apparently deserves our respect, denied us a stonewall penalty. Against the same team, a different referee ignored an even more blatant shout yesterday. So, are Pompey paying off the refs or what?

March 8th 2008

BBC: United were understandably furious after six minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo was clearly bundled over by Distin as he raced into the area, but referee Martin Atkinson ignored the appeals, to the clear disgust of Ferguson.

The Guardian: To say Portsmouth rode their luck would be understating the case by the length of the Manchester Ship Canal. United were denied a clear penalty in the first half, saw two certain goals blocked by astonishing interventions from defenders on the line, not to mention the Patrice Evra shot that David James touched on to a post, and had enough close-range opportunities to win a dozen cup ties.

The Independent: A beautiful ball inside Hermann Hreidarsson by Wayne Rooney invited Cristiano Ronaldo to drift inside the Icelander but he was then charged off the ball by Sylvain Distin. It looked like a penalty but referee Martin Atkinson was unmoved.

“I didn’t think it (the challenge by Distin on Ronaldo] was a penalty,” said Harry Redknapp after the match. “I think Ronaldo pushed (the ball] too far and I didn’t see anything wrong with the challenge.”

“I don’t think we made a bad tackle during the game,” he added.

August 10th 2008

The Telegraph: Tevez was controversially denied what should have been awarded as a definite penalty by referee Peter Walton who had a clear view of the incident. Tussling with left-back Hermann Hreidarsson, Tevez was unfairly hauled down in what replicated a rugby challenge but his appeal was promptly rejected.

Sky Sports: Man-of-the-match Carlos Tevez forced a fine full-stretch save by James with 20 minutes left before being denied a clear penalty after tangling with Herman Hreidarsson just inside the Pompey box.

The Independent: He was denied a penalty by the referee Peter Walton in the 75th minute when Herman Hreidarsson appeared to grab the striker’s leg as he fell in the penalty area.

Tevez has since been accused of stamping on him. Tevez has since been criticised for his reaction. Had the player who rugby tackled him rightly been sent off, then there would have been no reason for frustration or any need for a reaction.

Imagine Rio Ferdinand had grabbed a player by the leg with both arms in the area. This country would be claiming he wasn’t fit to captain England! And if a penalty wasn’t awarded, all the ABUs would come crawling out of the woodwork saying United have the refs in our back pocket.

Football365 went with the headline, “Fact: If you play for Manchester United, it’s legal to push opponents in the face”, which I responded to.

The moment United get a favourable decision (although to be honest, I don’t recall ever seeing one of our lads grab an opponent by the leg and drag them to the floor in the box!) we’ll again hear how the FA always do United a favour and the rugby tackle on Tevez will long be forgotten.

That’s life I suppose and you only get to be as hated as we are when you’re as successful as we are. If winning league title after league title, throwing in a few other European and domestic Cups here or there, comes with the price of having the whole country against us, then I’ll take it!

Essentially though, it’s just a couple of bad decissions from the referee, and I am fully aware we get our fair share of them. It just irks me that the times we are denied are glossed over, whereas when we do get them in our favour, the media can’t stop talking about it.

So, here’s to a new season, being awarded dodgy penalties and hearing about it for weeks and weeks!

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

View all posts by Scott »



  1. Gary says:

    I can see where your coming from Scott. The media and British public do have a selective memory and only remember the decisions that went for United in the past. In the treble season I remember in the fa cup semi final against Arsenal we had a perfectly good goal disallowed from Roy Keane which would have won us the game and saved us a replay, all tho it ended up all well for United it might not have been. Also that season David Ellary seemed on a personal mission to deny United the title that season when he decided he was going to become Liverpool’s 12th man at Anfield by giving them the softest of penalties to allow them back in the game and then sending of Dennis Irwin for kicking the ball 10 yards on the stroke of his whistle going.

    Liverpool fans always moan how United have decisions going there way and they buy the title to make themselfs feal better about there lack of success. Funny that because Liverpool have spent almost 200 million in 5 years under Benitez and have had more then there fair share of dodgy decisions in there favour in big games. They won the fa cup in 2001 thanks to the ref after Stephan (handball) Henchoz decided he was playing in goal after brilliantly tipping Henry’s shot round the post with a desparing dive which he just managed to get his finger tips too. Then last season Mark Clatenburg single handedly won the Merseyside derby for Liverpool with a series of awfull decisions. If that had been United on the end of those favourable decisions it would have been all over the tabloids.

  2. Ptow says:

    You state that it annoys you that the poor decisions are “Glossed over” but then go on to quote all the media that didnt gloss over it to prove the accuracy of the penalty claim.

    Weird – make up your mind

  3. Scott the Red says:

    Ptow – the incident being outlined in a match report is not comparable to the fuss that is made when United get away with something. If Ronaldo wins a debatable penalty, it’s all over the press for days.

    I was merely quoting the press to highlight how the general consensus was we were denied a penalty, rather than it just being my opinion that we were robbed.

  4. denton davey says:

    That was a clear penalty; and the ref was only about ten yards away with a clear view of Hriedarsson’s clutch-and-grab. We all know that the instant replay makes the referees’ job more controversial but how can he missed such an obvious clutch-and-grab – and what was the linesman looking at ?

    The two situations v Portsmouth were galling but highly predictable – split-second decisions are difficult to adjudicate but these referees are being chosen (and paid) because they are supposed to be able to get it right. Too often they don’t.

    Penalty decisions are directly involved in determining the result in a very large proportion of matches but are never subject to review. Similarly, offsides – which is governed by a rule which is confusing in its description and always wrong in its application – indirectly determine the outcome of many games.

    It’s patently obvious that the referees need proper, modern assistance and that the old canard about “human error” is just bullshit. It is really, really, really amazing that a gazillion-dollar sport like footie is still run as if the officials are gentleman amateurs. The results of their incompetence have gigantic implications – arguably, the incorrect decision last season cost UTD another treble.

    Something should be done – but it won’t be done because the “argument from tradition” keeps the game in the hands of match-day officials who can’t referee a 21st century game by being denied the assistance of 21st century technology. Most other professional sports have had to come to grips with this predicament but the aged bureaucrats who run international football continue to stick their heads in the sand – and their arses in the air.

  5. scott the blue says:

    scott the red – there’s the problem. from my point of view (as a pompey fan) it seems the press gloss over it when united get a favourbale decision – which happens almost every week – and when a decision goes against them, it gets ought up, and hangs in the press for weeks. when distin “shoved” teves (or was it rooney… or ronaldo, I cant remember) in the FA cup – that was in the press for weeks. you yourself have brought up quotes of how in an IRELVENT friendly, all the press have commented on it, and doubtless will tommorow, and the day after. when the press side with you, you look through it with rose tinted glasses, and just accept it’s there, and that they’re “right”. when they’re against you, it infuriates you. Take off your rose tinted glasses, and get back to the real world, where largely the press is unbiased.

  6. Brasco says:

    Hey Guys ! Remember the other game which you would have lost when Pedro Mendes blasted 3 foot over the line and your keeper scooped it out and the ref waved play on !!!!!!!!! Stop feeling aggreived, youre one of the best clubs in Europe and you get your fair share of luck too !

  7. GMPompey says:

    Hmmm.. This article amuses me somewhat, Man U fans having hissy fits over decisions that go against them… I think the reds must think they’re the only team that are hard done by in domestic competitions when.. Quote frankly you are not.

    I agree with your penalty shout from Herman holding back Tevez, and im still baffeled how the ref or linesman didnt see it, but i would have to disagree somewhat on the Distin challenge on Rolnaldo in the quater final.

    After chatting with alot of people about the quater final penalty shout (not just Pompey fans may i add) it seems theres a mixed reaction. Im someone who believes in old school, physical football and Distin’s challenege was exactly that… He was stronger than Rolnaldo in the challenege (that or Rolnaldo was looking for a penalty) therefore he won the challenge.. I can see the other side to it thou, although i disagree and believe the modern footballer shouldnt hit the deck when he’s breathed on.

    But this whole article irritates me somewhat, the autor comments that when a bad decision goes against United its glossed over… Not at all… Listen to your manager after games.. He never shuts up, I cant think of a fortnights worth of games passing when i havnt heard Fergie moaning about one decision or another, I would actaully say the opposite to the author here and i’d bet you alot of money the decisions that go against the lower league teams that are dubious are almost forgotton by the media.

    Its a hard life ehh? All these decisions going against you, yet you win the UEFA Cup and the League…. hmmm not as hard done by as you claim really are you?

  8. blue08 says:

    I thought the officials were pretty poor this weekend.
    The ref’s assistant was constantly behind the play and always trying to catch up.
    Cannot understand why it is always Man U fand moaning about dodgey decisions, some go for you and others do not.
    Maybe Refs are getting bored with the “dramatics” used by certain players…i.e. Nani & Ronaldo and give the defender some slack?
    Man U certainly deserved to win by the way, always great to watch going forward. Have a good season.

  9. Drew Vader says:

    GMP….soooooo, what you’re saying is that just because United wins things they have no right at all to ever feel aggreved for bad calls that go against them? ok….

    And look at the video of the distan challenge and ask yourself, Would that have been a foul everywhere else on the pitch except for the penalty box? The answer is almost certainly 100% yes, as you can see through the second video, where diarra does the exact same fucking thing, running across the player to put a body check on him while making no attempt to come anywhere even fucking close to winning or even challenging for the ball. There, it wasnt in the box and the foul was called. If you and Harry still arent convinced, then oh well, we’ll be seeing you in about two weeks. Twat

  10. Drew Vader says:

    Although, to be honest, I personally cant stand it when United in general, including fergie, players and fans, bitch about bad calls. Yeah there were some bad decision in the Pompey FACup game, but hot many chances were created that went straight at david james? We should have won the match five times after that decision, thats what should have been bitching about, our wastefullness, not complaining about refs.

    So it is my humble request that all associated with United make a concentrated effort to not bitch and moan about refs…(as much)

  11. Anant says:

    ummm….GMPompey , it was the champions league we won , not the uefa cup . and it would have almost certainly been a treble if it hadnt been for that decision .

    on a different note , agree with Drew , we really should make chances count . the FA cup exit was largely down to us gifting pompey about 10 ‘get out of jail free cards’ .

  12. Blue! says:

    Man U fans – can understand where you guys are coming from, yeah i would have felt hard done by if that decision had gone against pompey (i am a pompey fan) but I think everyone gets their fair share of bad decisions. But isn’t that what makes football so exciting. Those debatable decisions that give fans something to talk about at half or indeed full time. We could have been in the UEFA cup the season just gone if it werent for a legitimate Kranjcar goal being ruled out by a dodgy decision. But we are football fans we need to pick ourselves up and get on with it. Thats why we support the best sport in the world.

  13. Peter says:

    Erm, I think you’re a little confused re: the Tevez incident yesterday. Herman has claimed that Tevez stamped on him first, which brought out the reaction of grabbing his legs (Herman claiming that it was as much to prevent Tevez from doing any further damage?) Now, I don’t know how accurate his claims are (I was down at the other end of the ground so couldn’t see clearly at all), but if that was the case then it would have been Tevez getting sent off, rather than a penalty surely?

    We (Pompey) have been lucky in recent games against United in terms of gilt edges chances missed – but to suggest that it’s down to the referee is frankly laughable. Distin’s challenge on Ronaldo wasn’t given IMO as Ronaldo had gone down ridiculously easily in the corner of the box a few minutes earlier. If anything the referee would have had that in mind when making a decision that was maybe 60-40 in favour of a penalty?

    United get the rub of the green at least as much as any other Prem team, so your article is pretty hollow from where I’m sitting. All the best for the season though…

  14. KillerPete says:

    I understand the reasoning, I saw it and felt lucky that a penalty wasnt given (Pompey Supporter) But I said at the time, I would have grabbed out if my calf and shoulder were trodden on (even tho it was an accident) you would reach out…It should have been a penalty, fairs fair…I think that refs have a hard job, I defo wouldnt want to be one…but it is so frustrating when quite obvious decisions dont go your way…They get paid enought to make the difficult decisions, but too many times you will see foul in the box let off coz he ref is scared to give a penalty…but then a foul much less aggressive outside the box…say a fair 50/50 and players are booked and free kicks given…I thin that along with the ‘Respect’ initiative there should be a ‘Consistancy’ Initiative…if something is a foul outside the box, it is a foul inside the box, no bias to teams…as some refs do seem to have…just all out consistancy!!!

    I thought for the first competative match the ‘Respect’ initiative was again changing the game in a bad way…dont get me wrong, I hate the way players surround the ref trying to manipulate him (like chelsea always do) but booking Distin for getting frustrated for not getting a throw in which should have been his…why shouldnt he be able to have his say…I think that it could be another one like when they banned celebrating goals…they are trying to create a game without any happiness or flair…

    Book players when they surround the ref, but have a bit of sense the rest of the time!

    I have to say even tho Tevez was frustrated for not getting the penalty…the way he reacted was aweful, grabbing by the throat…its all give and take!

  15. Scott the Red says:

    Peter – you say the article is pretty hollow because United get the rub of the green as much as anyone else. Show me in the article where I say that United are more hard done by than any other team in terms of decisions going against them.

    Should I have written this bit in capitals? Then would you think it was less hollow?

    “Essentially though, it’s just a couple of bad decisions from the referee, and I am fully aware we get our fair share of them.”

  16. United4life says:

    @Peter: Do you play football? Seriously, the last thing a player wants is to get stamped on and by pulling a leg it just say ‘here, stamp here!!!!’ the only reasonable thing to do was to either protect your body by covering it or by pushing away the leg. And if Tev fell down because of the push hreidresson could have just said it was in self-defence to protect his body from being stamped on and Tev was diving. Capiche?

    @all: The linesman and ref was like this:-

    linesman: Oh, there goes that tevez boy doing his magic

    *hreidresson falls*

    linesman (looking down): oooo, something shiny in the grass, I hope it’s candy.

    *hreidresson pulls on tevez’s leg*

    Ref (looking at the linesman and talking to his communicator): So what’s the shiny thing you found?

    linesman: oh, just the blade of the grass *saddened*


  17. GG says:

    Seeing as Tevez grabbed Hreiddarsson by the throat, I think you should pipe down and enjoy your penalty victory.

    To hear you complain about media coverage of Man Utd is pathetic.

  18. Peter says:

    United4Life – if Tevez has ALREADY stamped on Herman, why wouldn’t he grab Tevez’s legs to prevent any further stamping? Is that difficult to understand? He didn’t grab his legs first (or at least that was his claim) – I agree, that would be idiotic and asking for trouble…

    Scott the Red – you did indeed state that you get your fair share of calls, but that does rather make the entire article a moot point IMO. Given that your contention arises from the Tevez incident – which Carlos himself was guilty by stamping first – surely the penalty shouldn’t have been given?

    Referees have a tough time of it these days – there’s way too much diving and play acting in the Prem (Nani was a good example on Sunday, as was Diop). They are bound to not notice everything that goes on (although the linesman are more to blame than the ref – they are woeful these days).

    Given that your manager moans whenever he doesn’t get the rub of the green (and conveniently forgets when it’s the other way round), this article appeared to me to be an extension of his attitude – hence my exasperation.

  19. Sulli says:

    Just to clear things up, Herman grabbed Tevez by the leg initially with his left hand outside the area = NO PENALTY.

    See link for picture of the proof.

    The picture clearly shows the fail started outside the box.

  20. Scott the Red says:

    Sulli, ha ha, you joker.

    All you have to do is watch the video to see it was a stonewall penalty. Your picture shows just one screenshot of what happened, the video shows the scenerio as a whole.

  21. Rodman says:

    When I watch that video I see Teves stamp on Herman’s leg….then his shoulder….who wouldnt react to that?? I especially like how clear it is with Teves’ hand around Herman’s throat at the end there. Why aren’t you talking more about how the ref missed that? Red card anyone?

  22. Sulli says:

    Scott the Red – Its a freekick, the video clearly shows HH grabbing Tevez by the leg with his left hand outside the penalty area (pic shows this) and soon after with both in the penalty area. The foul has already been committed outside the penalty area so is only a freekick on the edge.

  23. suhayl says:





  24. suhayl says:






  25. Redders says:

    FFS suhayl why don’t you take your infantile comments and p**s off from this blog. Maybe when you get back to school in September you can learn to write English sentences without your caps lock on.

    It’s people like you that give everyone else ammunition to attack us.

  26. utdcunts says:

    pompey paying refs? how have you won the title in the last few years? when teams play against anyone the ref doennt no what a whistle is

  27. suhayl says:

    Shut the f up redders…ive got a degree in english i’ll have you know. AND my ammunition was in retaliation NOT a pr emptive strike. THESE so called pompey fans were having a go at OUR utd fans and SCOTT in paricular with their tribal knowledge. HENCE i came in to stick up for our lads on OUR blog.

    ” people give ammunition to attack us”.

    Never ever seen you post a comment on this website in 3 years. So i guess you’re a newy. Hence i’ll tell you some fact…whenever SCOTT publishes an article with any name bar utd in the blog rentboys, bitters, dippers whoever. They all pile on here giving it LARGE. Verbally abusing utd, the players, fans our history etc

    I aint going to stand for it and am going to stand up for my fellow utd fans on this blog. IF you’re such a kofi annan..then p off somewhere else…or start supporting pomey.


  28. suhayl says:

    Im defending my club after they disparaged us FIRST. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE…

    CAPLOCKS ur a..e


  29. suhayl says:

    AND NOOOOO I WONT P off either.


    muppets like you make me laugh… glory hunter.

    IF you DONT AND CANT stand up for our team..then i suggest you go somewhere else


You must be logged in to post a comment.