With another set of debacles in the books this weekend it’s time for the Premier League to finally step in and show that they want the correct decisions made on the pitch. While ultimate power over referee’s rests with PGMOL the league need to make it abundantly clear that decisions need to improve or changes will have to made.
VAR was introduced to much fanfare but has been mostly sidelined apart from minuscule offside decisions that pixelate reality. And while VAR intervened in two major decisions over the weekend neither resulted in a good outcome as the referee’s ultimately decided two games.
THE PREMIER LEAGUE IS A LAUGHING STOCK
It all started in the 3pm game with West Brom beating Brighton. With Lee Mason allowing Brighton to take a quick free kick before realising that it was an unfair advantage, then re-blowing his whistle, and then still giving the goal?! 🤯
VAR had to step in and confirm that his second whistle blow came before the ball crossed the line and therefore it couldn’t be a goal. Lee Mason was then mysteriously removed from fourth–official duties on the Sunday because of an injury that showed up after the game.
The lovely pundits on BBC’s Match of the Day commented that “everyone makes mistakes”. Well that’s ok then. No need to hold anyone to account for anything then really is there. The integrity of the game rests on accurate decisions from the officials, but no-one’s massively bothered.
PREMIER LEAGUE SUNDAY “NAILED ON PENALTY”
Fast forward a little over 24-hours and we have Manchester United denied a penalty for what United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær called a “Nailed on penalty”. For his part Chelsea Manager Thomas Tuchel said “that a man in red touched it”.
In full he told the BBC, “I was anxious before I thought I was totally wrong. From my point of view it was totally clear that a man in red touched it. When I saw it on the iPad I could not understand what was going on as it was only the man with the red shirt who touched it. I did not understand what the check was for.”
Obviously managers have to stump for their own teams, but this is getting silly now.
In fairness to referee Stuart Atwell he didn’t have this angle available to him, but it was clearly a handball from all angles. VAR intervened during a stoppage in play and advised the referee to take a look at the pitch-side monitor. Which is now the most VAR can do now that it has been stripped from giving penalties outright.
Two minutes of watching Callum Hudson-Odoi punching the ball away and referee Stuart Atwell says no penalty. No I am not making that up.
DOES THE PREMIER LEAGUE EVEN WANT THE RIGHT OUTCOMES?
So we are left with the two big talking points being referee’s making massive howlers of decisions. Fan’s can see them all unfold on their devices from the comfort of their homes, cars, or parks. And yet Premier League officials can watch exactly the same footage and make decisions that boggle the mind.
Forget VAR, this is on-field referee’s making the decisions. But then we put these same officials on VAR duty as well and expect correct decisions? The whole system is asinine and needs ripping up if we can’t even acknowledge these mistakes and begin to fix them.
Referee’s don’t have to come out and explain their decisions, nor do they regularly face punishments.
Mike Dean had arguably the worst run of decisions by a professional referee in February but he faced no punishment at all. He did, however, ask to be stood down because of the abuse he received on the internet.
Abuse of officials, players, and pundits is entirely and one under percent unacceptable. But that doesn’t mean we can’t point out their errors, and work to have a system that is actually more accurate. If we continue to pass these decisions off as “everyone makes mistakes” we will never improve the decisions, and the game we love will continue to be a laughing stock.
Unless the Premier League actually enjoys these outcomes? They receive far more attention and press when things go horrendously wrong, and at the end of the day the Premier League is more about eyeballs and attention because that’s what generates the money.
Until the Premier League step in and make it clear that referee’s will face sanctions for making horrendous decisions that could ultimately cost teams like Brighton their place in the top flight, there will be no reason for the standards of officiating to improve.