Each weekend, the debate on Premier League games sadly doesn’t focus on the quality and skillsets of players that we are privileged to watch, but on refereeing decisions and the way in which the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is operating.
The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) is responsible for the referees that operate in the English Premier League along with the VAR’s.
The laws of the game are the responsibility of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and FIFA.
The PGMOL should therefore operate and apply the laws in accordance with the governing bodies, along with the VAR protocols.
However, the PGMOL are failing to achieve a consistency of operation and its officials are confused around what is clear and obvious – the trigger point at which VAR is expected to intervene and advise the referee to view the monitor.
In so doing, the referee is afforded another view of the incident and a chance to re-consider his decision.
Sadly, VAR operators who have often officiated a game the day before, are failing to achieve a balance between consistency and understanding as to when the referee may need their help.
In the Arsenal vs Manchester City game for example, the home team had every right to feel aggrieved when Ederson brought down Martin Odegaard.
Referee, Stuart Attwell, was unmoved and at this point, VAR should have intervened and Attwell should have reviewed his decision on the pitch side monitor.
It was a penalty kick in my opinion, the goalkeeper playing the man first and then the ball, and this type of incident must in future come into the criteria of a clear and obvious error.
Later in the same game with a similar incident, Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva was brought down by Arsenal’s Granit Xhahka, and with the referee close to play he signalled for the City player to get up he was not awarding a penalty.
Unlike the first incident, VAR now intervened and Attwell reversed his decision having viewed the pitch side monitor.
Why do managers, players, fans have to put up with this inconsistency? Why is nothing done and why don’t we hear from the PGMOL?
They are locked away at Stockley Park leaving their referees to carry the can, with their reputation for being the best referees in the world in tatters.
Why doesn’t the PGMOL recognise that in Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor they have an operational benchmark for the remaining Select Group referees to achieve?
Finally, how stupid that a petulant Gabriel Magalhaes decided to scuff the penalty mark and within minutes of being shown a yellow card commits a reckless challenge that correctly received a second yellow.