Newcastle official must avoid over-reliance on VAR, says Keith Hackett

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David Coote officiating his sixth Premier League game of the season walked off the pitch satisfied that he had managed to avoid any controversy in the Brighton v Newcastle United game which ended in a one-one draw.

The reality was a performance that lacked confidence and accuracy, the referee taking the lazy route of over reliance on VAR. When VAR was introduced, I stated that the risk was that it would promote lazy officiating.

Think of the tightrope walker who with no safety net knows that every step he is safeguarding his life knowing that he cannot fall off, so his focus and accuracy has to be at its best.

Now introduce a safety net and the tightrope walker becomes careless and lazy knowing that a wrong step will result in a fall into the net and not one that will be sudden death.

Craig Pawson came like superman to Coote’s rescue on two big decisions in this game.

Coote was ideally positioned on the edge of the penalty area with an unobstructed view to witness a careless challenge by Newcastle United’s Clark on Brighton’s Leandro Trossard, but amazingly waved aside appeals for what should have been an easy penalty decision.

He raised a finger of rebuke towards Trossard and allowed play to continue, but fortunately, Pawson intervened on what was a clear and obvious error.

Coote reviewed the pitch side monitor and rightly reversed his decision. VAR (safety net) coming to his rescue on a decision that he should have got right in the first place.

Referees have to demonstrate courage on these big calls that is why they are promoted to the elite panel of English referees.

In added time, Newcastle broke from defence and a long ball found Callum Wilson who was brought down by Brighton’s goalkeeper Sanchez, who made contact with his opponent who went to ground.

Coote was a long way from the incident and waved away any appeals for the foul, choosing to back pedal to take up a position to monitor the clearance from Brighton’s defence.

Once again VAR Pawson rightly determined that Coote was guilty of a second clear and obvious error, and the result was the award of a free-kick to the away team and a red card for Sanchez.

Former Premier League and FIFA referee Keith Hackett is a columnist for

This was David Coote’s sixth Premier League game of the season and I would suggest that before he is appointed to another game, that he receives appropriate operational advice and guidance.

Incidentally, in those six games to date he has issued two red cards and 32 yellow cards. An average of 5.3 yellow cards per game is well above the average of 3 in the Premier League.

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1 Comment

  1. Not great when former referees cannot tell when a player has blatantly cheated. Trossard did get touched by Clarke but not enough for him to go down … the initial assessment was correct. VAR showed the dive multiple times in slow motion but bafflingly the new rules were not applied and a penalty was given. Almost unanimously pundits acknowledged this dive with some (Rio) calling it clever, some calling it what it is = cheating. I’m not sure how much contact was made with Wilson but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say that the keeper clipped his right foot enough to push it into his left foot which ultimately sent him tumbling. VAR correctly used on this occasion. Hackett incorrect in his assessment of both incidents.

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