Firstly, an admission. I am and have been since childhood a Spurs fan so I have a dog in this fight.
Nonetheless I think it is beyond debate that Leicester City won the Premier League championship thanks to two very dodgy refereeing decision in the dying moments of two of their last games, against West Ham and Manchester United.
That and an hysteria created by the media and nurtured by English soccer’s money men about the prospect of Leicester providing a so-called ‘fairytale’ ending to the 2015-2016 season.
The question is this: were the referees influenced by the knowledge that if they gave a different – and correct – decision they would be denying the great British public this ‘fairytale’ climax, an ending that, reportedly, even members of the Royal family were hoping for? Did they rule in Leicester’s favour so they wouldn’t be blamed for pissing in everyone’s pint?
In the West Ham game, a penalty awarded to Leicester (in the 94th minute!) turned a 2-1 defeat into a draw. That saved Leicester one point but more critically helped the team and their fans avoid a possibly devastating psychological blow as they entered the crucial final few games of the season.
Towards the end of the Manchester United game (in the 86th minute!) the referee’s decision not to award Utd a penalty in the closing minutes, while sending off the Leicester player responsible for fouling, to my eyes, well inside the penalty area, saved Leicester from a 2-1 defeat.
If the decisions in both or either of those games had gone the way I believe they should have, then the Premier League championship race would still be alive.
Those two games (as well as the Spurs v Chelsea match) have raised important question about the quality of refereeing in the Premier League – and the deleterious influence of big money – but nobody wants to address them for fear of undermining the blessed ‘fairytale’.
As it is the media (why is it that football journalists seem universally lower-end tabloid and hackneyed no matter who they work for, TV, quality press or the red tops?) got their ‘fairytale’ climax and the money men in football a reason to giggle all the way to the bank, in the confident belief that the Leicester story has ensured another season of live American TV broadcasts.
Anyway, here are the two incidents of which I write. Watch them and make your own minds up. In the meantime COYS!