The introduction of Video Assistant Referees in the Premier League has been the source of much controversy this season – and former referee Mark Halsey is in no doubt about who is to blame.
VAR is only intended to correct “clear and obvious errors” made by the on-pitch officials, and Halsey is struggling to understand why there have been any issues at all implementing it in the Premier League.
“It isn’t working as well as it should be. You could describe it as a bit of a shambles at present,” he told Planet Football.
“I thought it would be better than it is. I know we’ve had statements saying it has only been active for 12 weeks, but it has been trialled in the FA Cups and League Cup.
“It isn’t difficult to implement. We know what it is there for: clear and obvious errors on goals, red cards and mistaken identity. If we follow the IFAB (International Football Association Board) protocol, we won’t have much of a problem.
“Mike Riley (chairman of the Professional Game Match Officials Board) is talking about setting the bar high; personally I don’t think there should be a bar. It should be ‘is there a clear and obvious error made by the referee and assistant referee?’, that’s it. The IFAB is clear – the referee will make the final decision.
Halsey also believes the Premier League should be making use of pitchside monitors designed to give the on-pitch referee a second look, and he suggests the VAR needing longer than a minute to make a decision is a clear sign that an obvious mistake has not been made.
“VAR is an assistant, but we’re not seeing referees going to the pitchside monitors. You might as well just call it VR – video referee.
“If the referee goes to the monitor and sticks with his decision or even changes his mind, everyone will accept that.
“Offside is a matter of fact, you’re on or you’re off. Is the technology 100%? You have to say no it is not. It moves at 50 frames per second.
“It can take a long time to make a decision, like the one at Tottenham against Sheffield United. It was three minutes 45 seconds. Anything longer than a minute, the referee’s decision should stand.
“It is a work in progress, but it has been going for three years now and we’ve got to be better. VAR will be beneficial in the long run but we are not implementing it the way the IFAB want it implementing.
“The buck stops with Mike Riley.”