Mark Halsey column: Refs need top coaches just like players… but Mike Riley is no Pep Guardiola and I fear VAR could be a Premier League farce again despite good Euros

Ahead of the new Premier League season, I want to see minimum interference and maximum benefit from VAR, just as it worked at Euros, with quick decisions made.

VAR is there for the absolute howlers, otherwise it shouldn’t get involved as the decision by the match official is subjective.

MORE: Liverpool star to get lifetime contract

That’s what we want to see, because last season in the English top-flight it was overused and effectively re-reffing games.

That’s down to PGMOL chief, Mike Riley, and whether we get the same sort of leadership from him as the refs at the Euros did from Roberto Rossetti is another issue entirely.

There is a different philosophy from UEFA on VAR and with the referees themselves.

The top referees in Europe were allowed to get on with the games at Euro 2020, letting the matches flow. It was superb officiating, with Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor also having fantastic tournaments.

Mark Halsey
Former Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Halsey is a columnist for

That was because of the leadership and direction from the management, as well as the coaching received.

Good coaches like Pep Guardiola turn average players into good players, good players into excellent players, and it’s no different for referees. Some need a kick up the backside, some need a bit of love.

The issue is that the Premier League don’t have top class refereeing coaches. I know exactly what Mike Riley is like. Mark Clattenburg, Howard Webb, Jeff Winter, myself and others are all available but not involved. You have to ask question why?

Chris Kavanagh and Andy Madley were two great refs, as were Robert Madley and Craig Pawson. They were good for the first year in the elite group and then took two paces forward and four paces back. That’s down to Riley’s leadership.

Now we have Jarred Gillet over from Australia for a couple of seasons, Mick Salisbury, Tony Harrington and John Brooks all on the Premier League list.

I wish them luck… they’re going to need it.

More Stories Mark Halsey Mike Riley Pep Guardiola