The use of VAR (Video Assisted Referee) technology was introduced into the Premier League this season as a means of correcting clear and obvious refereeing decisions. Yet, far from making things clearer, it has been a source of controversy and argument almost from Day One.
Players, managers, pundits and fans alike have been left bemused and angry about decisions made by remote officials sitting in an office at Stockley Park, on the outskirts of London, whilst the match-going spectator has been robbed of the excitement of celebrating a goal, or the award of a penalty, due to the seemingly endless wait for VAR pronouncements to be made.
And, far from being the impartial arbiter of justice promised, there have also been errors made by the technology, as the head of referees in England, Mike Riley, was forced to admit at a meeting during the recent international break. Three involved penalties which were wrongly awarded, whilst the fourth involved a goal scored by Arsenal defender Socratis Papasthopolous, which was incorrectly ruled out, costing his side three points.
Even the head of UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, has branded the technology a mess, citing instances where goals have been ruled out for offside based on the length of a players nose, or the definition of their armpit.
One problem that has been identified with VARs implementation in the Premier League has been the failure of English referees to use the pitch-side monitors, contrary to the practice of the other leagues in Europe where this occurs commonly. So far, with more than 140 Premier League games played already this season, referees have not consulted the monitors once, following instructions from Riley not to do so, for fear of slowing the game down even further.
However, former Arsenal manager, Arsne Wenger, who has just been appointed head of global football development, wants the Premier League to change its position on the use of the monitors, believing that it will help referees make their own mind up as to whether their original decision was right or wrong.
He also wants explanation for VAR decisions to be made available to spectators in the ground, with television viewers currently getting much more information than those in the stadium itself.