COLUMN: It's beginning to look like VAR might just work...

Glenn Murray's late goal against Palace goes in - and VAR proved it did not brush his arm / Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Glenn Murray's late goal against Palace goes in - and VAR proved it did not brush his arm / Picture by PW Sporting Photography

For the past few years the use of VAR in football has been spoken about and whether or not it should be introduced into the Premier League.

So, what is VAR? VAR stands for ‘Video Assistant Referee’. The VAR will have the chance to look at four main things during the game - goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity. They will only get involved when there is a clear error in the game which needs to be dealt with - otherwise they stand by the referees’ decision and let the game carry on.

Many ex-pros-turned-pundits such as Ian Wright and Dennis Wise would not have liked the new technology to have come in when they were playing, but still believe it’s a good change for English football. Ex-Chelsea player Frank Lampard has stated that VAR should ‘hurry up’.

The first time VAR was used in English football was between Brighton and Crystal Palace, during their third-round FA Cup tie. At the end of the game, there was controversy as to whether Glenn Murray’s goal should have stood as the ball appeared to have brushed his arm before he scored. The VAR technology reviewed the incident and the goal stood. Palace manager Roy Hodgson said disallowing the goal would have been ‘very harsh’.

VAR has now been proven to work to overturn a decision. During the FA Cup third-round replay between Leicester and Fleetwood Town, the VAR system actually awarded a goal which had originally been ruled out for offside.

After the linesman's flag had gone up, referee Jon Moss instantly asked for the VAR system to be used. One minute later - goal awarded! Leicester were given the goal to put them two ahead. This could be the turning point in English football.

One point to make about VAR is that it can only be used in a Premier League game if it has a direct link back to the Premier League studios in west London. This, unfortunately, was not the case for the Watford v Southampton game played this weekend.

Southampton looked as though they were heading home with three points until Abdoulaye Doucoure equalised in the 90th minute. Replays showed Doucoure actually used his hand to guide the ball into the net. Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino said after the game: “I think we have to try [VAR] and analyse if it's possible to help the sport to make better decisions, even for the referee."

This is a view I believe many fans will agree with.

Other crucial situations for which we could have done with VAR include the England-Germany game in the 2010 World Cup. We all know how heart-breaking it was when Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ wasn’t actually given even though it was evident the ball went over the line. In major events like that, VAR is the perfect piece of equipment that can make or break a game.

Some may think VAR takes up too much time to come to a decision and ruins the flow of the game. It is believed it can take around two minutes for a decision to be made but it would usually take place in stoppages in play.

Personally, I think the use of VAR should be backed. How many times has a goal stood when it shouldn’t and has ended up costing your team all three points, or a player stayed on the pitch when he should have seen red?

VAR can change the course of the game for the better.

Ben Pett


* What's your view? Is VAR long-overdue or will it ruin football as we know it? Tweet @ben__pett or email with your view