England has a great footballing history and the ‘City of Sheffield’ boasts a large number of firsts.

  • Sheffield Club the oldest football club in the world.
  • The oldest football ground in the world.
  • The international tournament presented by Thomas Youdan is the oldest football competition in the world.
  • The inventor of the crossbar
  • ‘Sheffield Rules’ were the foundation of the Laws of the Game.

However history this week was made on the South Coast in the Brighton v Crystal Palace FA Cup third round tie.

This game will now be written in tablets of stone following the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Referee Andre Marriner was supported by Premier League referee Neil Swarbrick who was appointed VAR for the game.

Prior to the game, PGMOL Managing Director Mike Riley was interviewed by former Premier League Referee Graham Poll tasked with giving the viewing public a detailed outline of how the system would be operated.

It was well done, however one part of the criteria discussed as an example was an incident in an earlier game involving Craig Pawson.

Andre Marriner

The incident was a reckless challenge with excessive force that endangered the safety of an opponent which the referee incorrectly issued a yellow card. A clear error which Riley said would be rectified with the use of VAR.

This is confusing given the fact that the criteria highlights that VAR will not be used for yellow card offences. So in an attempt to clear that one up, I think the assumption must be that given the challenge, the action of the VAR would be to advise the referee that the challenge is a red card offence.

If there is any doubt then Craig Pawson would run to the side of the field and view the television monitor to review the incident before showing the red card.

The game took place at the Amex Stadium in Brighton whilst the VAR and his assistant were based several miles away in West London.

The referee and his team at the Amex were in constant contact with Swarbrick. The game went without incident until the final winning goal where the ball deflected off the scorers knee into the net.

The question was did the scorer propel the ball into the net. Despite a poor viewing angle provided by television which was disappointing it was clear that a deliberate handball had not taken place.

The VAR confirmed the goal was okay according to reports. So a quiet introduction which is probably the wish of the Football Association.

However for me it is long time coming and I offer my congratulations to Andre Marriner and Neil Swarbrick for delivering a game without controversy.


  1. If you read the rules on VAR, it clearly states that if the VAR feels there is a potential RC offence, then regardless of it being already cautioned or not, it can be checked, reviewed and the decision changed. That’s why Alli’s could have been checked and a RC issued. Maybe the Refereeing experts on this site should read these rules before causing more confusion by saying the criteria is confusiing itself…..

  2. Worked well tonight in the Leicester-Fleetwood match. I have not seen anything though on how much it will cost to cover a full premier league programme not to mention the additional elite group referees required. Surely every game will need a full video suite and a VAR?

  3. To J Spence, I checked through the criteria once again and also checked with my colleagues in America, Canada, New Zealand to determine if my statement was incorrect. Incidentally one is the chairman of the referees committee, one is the CEO, another is a full time referee coach and the final one is in charge of Training and Education. The league these officials operate within have been running VAR for six months.

    So in our endeavour to check things out again I managed to get someone to write direct to a member of the IFAB. I am reliably informed that the criteria will be amended to take into account that in the circumstances the situation described that a yellow card will be allowed to be upgraded to red.

    We now await the change from Version 6 to Version 7 to bring the criteria in line. Let’s hope that this is updated and we stick to them.

    This is the type of advice our team are capable of giving you on a one to one basis thanks to Coach Call. You can take advantage by signing up to our Referee Academy.


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