Clubs could seek increased use of VAR monitors

Premier League clubs could push for increased use of pitchside monitors by referees when they gather for a shareholders’ meeting on November 14.

There have been increasing calls for the on-pitch official to have the final say on decisions by using the monitors after a series of debatable incidents.

The PA news agency understands that the policy to use the monitors sparingly was endorsed by top-flight clubs, managers and captains to keep the game flowing when they were consulted over the issue before the season, and again at their last meeting in September.

Arsenal players speak to referee Martin Atkinson, who reversed his decision to award them a third goal after consultation with the VAR
Arsenal players speak to referee Martin Atkinson, who reversed his decision to award them a third goal after consultation with the VAR (Nigel French/PA)

Interventions made by the video assistant referee (VAR) over the weekend attracted criticism, with Arsenal having what would have been a winning goal by Sokratis Papastathopoulos ruled out by the VAR for a foul in the build-up.

Officials from referees body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) are due to meet on Thursday, but this is understood to simply be a routine weekly gathering rather than something prompted by any specific incidents.

It is unlikely any noticeable change in policy on the use of pitchside monitors – which have not been utilised once in 100 Premier League matches so far – would come in advance of the shareholders’ meeting.

There have been 26 occasions where a VAR has intervened to alter a decision taken by the on-field referee.

The Premier League and PGMOL is understood to be comfortable with the fact that the pitchside monitors have not been used yet, but they are there should a referee feel strongly enough that he needs to see an incident again himself.

Football followers will have been used to seeing the on-field referee using the screens during the men’s and women’s World Cups over the last two summers, but in those cases there could be language issues between the referee and the VAR and the quickest way to resolve it was often for the official on the field to watch replays on the screen.

In the Premier League, the on-pitch referee is being guided by an experienced peer.

On the issue of the bar for intervention, it is understood there has been no specific change or lowering of the bar, but the Premier League and PGMOL is continually looking at the threshold.

Roy Hodgson welcomed the intervention of VAR Jarred Gillett during his side's match at Arsenal
Roy Hodgson welcomed the intervention of VAR Jarred Gillett during his side’s match at Arsenal (Nigel French/PA)

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson felt VAR Jarred Gillett had made the right call in overturning referee Martin Atkinson’s decision to award Sokratis’ goal, and also in awarding a penalty to Palace when Atkinson initially booked Wilfried Zaha for diving.

“I’m pretty certain Martin (Atkinson) is pretty comfortable with the VAR decision,” he said.

“His spur-of-the-moment decision turned out to be the wrong one and I’m certain he’s man enough to accept that and be glad that it got overturned and the right decision was made.”

His Arsenal counterpart Unai Emery said: “For me VAR is positive and we need VAR. But we need to manage that in the right way. At the moment, to us it’s not working well.”

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