I was interested to read recently that the Premier League and PGMOL are not on the same page with regard to the potential use of the Video Assistant Referee. This is most unusual given the forward thinking of Premier League supremo Richard Scudamore, himself a one-time referee.
PGMOL chief Mike Riley is understood to favour the match referee being able to go to the side of the pitch to view a screen and determine the correct outcome of a decision. He fears that the power of the referee will otherwise be diminished.
I certainly do not favour the procedure that Mike is supporting.
My reasons are that leaving the scene of any potential conflict to view a screen at the side of the field exposes a risk of further on-field problems whilst the screen is being viewed. It also delays unnecessarily the decision-making process.
The modern game is about a team of officials advising the referee on various scenarios and the referee then blowing the whistle and taking the appropriate action. The VAR informs the referee and advises the course of action on an incident.
I list below some examples;-
- The VAR communicates that an offence took place on the penalty area line – so award a penalty kick.
- The denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity has taken place. Therefore, please issue a red card to the appropriate player.
- The VAR confirms that you are issuing a red card sanction to the correct player.
Trust must be handed to the VAR in the same way you expect your assistant referee to correctly flag for offside or a penalty kick.
My view is that we need to keep the process simple and take on board the results from the various competitions around the world that are operating the experiment.