Refereeing decisions, England call ups and even the Match of the Day running order. There is discrimination against smaller clubs wherever you look in football and there’s no sign of change.
Refereeing decisions are a huge part of the modern game and when a game changing decision goes against your team it can ruin the whole weekend. I can’t help but feel this happens more frequently against smaller teams. I also can’t help but feel that bigger sides with big name managers usually get the benefit of the doubt from the men in black. This has been picked up on by a whole host of managers including Paul Lambert, Martin Jol and most recently Garry Monk. Admittedly refereeing decisions are often an excuse from managers but in most cases the bigger team ends up better off.
Having said this I don’t believe the referees themselves are to blame directly. The only explanation I can see is a subconscious favouring of bigger teams and a unintentional effort to please the likes of Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex! Many Premier League teams have complained of poor refereeing decisions given against them when facing big clubs away from home. This can also be seen in the statistics as one of the ‘top 3’ have headed the penalties won chart for 4 consecutive seasons (Liverpool won a PL record of 12 last season). This has lead to backlash from many supporters against the favouritism, some humorously voicing their opinions by ‘photo shopping’ Howard Webb into a Manchester United shirt.
Ryan Shawcross, Tom Huddlestone and Adam Johnson have all been subject to calls for an England call up, yet none of them have been able to break into Roy Hodgson’s squad. The International set up in this country is certainly another area where big club bias is rife. Within Roy Hodgson’s 30 man provisional World Cup squad for Brazil, all bar one of the outfield players included came from 8 clubs, all at the top of the Premier League. Surely this is proof enough of the undeniable unfairness of the system. Many Englishmen playing for smaller clubs have in my opinion been better and far more consistent than many of those who made the cut. For example Andros Townsend had not played a Premier League game for over 5 months, yet he was still included. Was his inclusion merely because he played his club football for Tottenham?
In addition, Sunderland’s Adam Johnson has not played a competitive game for England since his move from Manchester City. Yet he has grown to be much stronger and more dependable since moving to the Stadium of Light. His omission can only be explained by discrimination against smaller clubs. Equally, Callum Chambers’ first England call up coincided with his move to Arsenal. The list goes on with Hull’s Tom Huddlestone being overlooked, with United’s Tom Cleverly being preferred in his position. FurtherMORE, Ryan Shawcross, arguably one of the most consistent defenders in the league, being ignored completely. The blatant prejudice of smaller teams is perfectly exemplified through the international system in England.
Despite all this, for supporters of these smaller clubs the hardest and most real part of the big club bias in the Premier League is their side’s one-minute cameo on Match of the Day on a Saturday evening. It shows real passion and love for your team if you are prepared to sit through 110 minutes of Gary Lineker only to find the highlights of your side’s game lasting all of 10 seconds.
And for this loyalty and commitment I commend you.