New Straits Times
REARING ITS UGLY HEAD AGAIN
Fans vent fury at the technology as clubs set to bring forward a review of VAR
PREMIER League clubs will this week demand match officials be allowed to consult pitchside monitors when using the Video Assistant Referee system.
Such is the disquiet with VAR that Tottenham Hotspur fans gave their Sheffield United counterparts a round of applause when the visiting supporters loudly vented their frustration at the technology on Saturday.
VAR had helped preserve the lead Son Heung Min gave Tottenham in the 58th minute. But few in the ground could understand why David McGoldrick’s equaliser minutes later had been disallowed.
It seemed a clear-cut goal when McGoldrick tapped home Enda Stevens’s cross, but when referee Graham Scott put his finger to his ear the visiting fans’ celebrations were put on hold.
Nearly four minutes later the goal was ruled out, apparently because during the build-up John Lundstram’s big toe had been offside by half the width of a shoelace, if that.
Had George Baldock’s later equaliser, which also went to VAR, been ruled out too it would have been an injustice for Chris Wilder’s side.
Clubs and the Premier League are set to bring forward a review of VAR, scheduled for Christmas time, after accepting the current situation cannot continue.
A number of clubs believe PGMOL boss Mike Riley is likely to make the pitchside monitor offer at the meeting, but are ready to issue the demand themselves.
Referees in all other competitions that use VAR are allowed to consult monitors. Clubs voted against monitor reviews this summer to minimise disruptions to the game.
Most now accept a change is needed. Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said: “The clubs got most of what they asked for in the summer regarding VAR. It is not fair to blame the officials.
“We certainly cannot blame Mike Riley. But it is clear we need to review pitchside monitor usage and Mike Riley will maybe change the protocol.”
Clubs will also discuss in-stadium VAR communication, with fans in stadiums often not fully aware of decisions under review.
The meeting will also look at whether managers should be allowed to appeal decisions, although the Premier League are expected to argue against it.
Sheffield manager Wilder was left to offer his thoughts on the VAR system that is leaving fans, players and managers scratching their heads on a weekly basis.
“If it’s offside then we have to deal with it,” Wilder said.
But even on video replay it was almost impossible to tell whether Lundstram had indeed been offside.
Wilder said that even if he had been, the question was at which point the referee had deemed it a new phase of play, as the apparent offence happened early in the move that eventually saw the ball end up in the Spurs net.
“It’s just confusion from our point of view,” Wilder said. “It’s gone down the right, it’s been crossed, it’s come back out, and where does it get re-set to go again?
“The length of the stoppage doesn’t do anybody any good. Managers, players and supporters.
“They told us it must be clear and obvious (to be offside). I’m just glad the second goal was given, because after the big delay for the first goal all kinds of things are going through my coconut on the second one.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was sympathetic, having seen Heung Min have a legitimate-looking goal ruled out at Leicester City earlier this season.
“The referee can make a mistake, but with VAR it is difficult to accept this type of situation and I empathise with Chris when the decision and the line is so thin,” he said.