The Video Assistant Referee operation in the English Premier League is, frankly, a shambles and not fit for purpose.
There needs to be a root and branch review of its application with the task of achieving greater consistency of its application.
The Stockley Park operation is remote and appears to operate without any level of accountability or consistency.
Do they even understand what a ‘Clear and Obvious error’ is? Because there have been a number of incidents where VAR hasn’t intervened when there’s been a glaringly obvious error.
The Harry Kane challenge on Andy Robertson on December 19, which should have resulted in a red card, is a prime example, but it saw no intervention after the referee had raised the wrong-coloured card.
Not surprising when you see that it’s out of form Premier League referees that have been appointed to operate as Video Assistant Referees.
The referee can be officiating at Old Trafford one day and carrying the baggage of a controversial performance into the next day where he has been appointed to the VAR role at Stockley Park.
Change must take place if improvements are to be achieved so here is a possible solution:
In my time in office at the PGMOL, I introduced the team of officials in order to build and improve the standard of officiating.
Not only was there individual accountability but also team accountability that brought about a detailed review of incidents and led to an avoidance of repeat errors.
For example, Assistant Referees Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey worked on every game with Howard Webb and went on to officiate the 2010 World Cup Final in South Africa. Meanwhile, assistants Glenn Turner and Philip Sharpe operated with Graham Poll.
We need to see that same team ethic and team accountability going forward, and I recommend therefore that Stockley Park should be closed down.
It is my opinion that the team of officials – a Referee, two Assistant Referees, Fourth Official, Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and Assistant Video Assistant Referee (AVAR) – should meet up in a local hotel close to the ground in order to develop this team ethic.
They should all walk around the stadium to get a feel for the intensity of the upcoming game, with the Referee and Assistants obviously being those that head out onto the field.
The VAR and AVAR operation would either take up their positions in a room in the stadium or on a broadcasting vehicle parked close to the ground. There should also be an opportunity to have a zoom link between the VAR and refereeing team at half-time.
The team of match officials would of course come together again and review the performance at the end of the game.
The current system using Stockley Park lacks feeling and accountability, and within the £22million pound budget, improvements have to be made.
PGMOL have put referees at centre-stage and they have become the laughing stock of officiating around the globe.
The best league in the world has the worst referees, and the PGMOL board have overseen that decline in standards, preferring to hide behind another set of fictional statistics put up by Mike Riley.
Frankly, they are kidding themselves if they think differently.
It’s time PGMOL got a grip and delivered improved performances that are world-class, but sadly, that will never be achievable with Riley and his current team.
It begs the question as to why the funders of the PGMOL – The FA, The Premier League and the EFL – are putting up with this mediocrity?
The image of the Premier League has been tarnished and action needs to take place.