Premier League refereeing chief says VAR mistakes made but wants to keep games moving

September 13 – English football’s refereeing chief has admitted that four VAR mistakes have already been made in the opening four rounds of the Premier League season.

The introduction of VAR in the country’s top flight has starkly divided opinion and Mike Riley, managing director of the elite referees body PGMOL, says four incidents were wrongly adjudicated over 40 matches.

Riley told club chairmen on Thursday that two penalties should have been awarded, to Manchester City and West Ham United, while a Newcastle United goal should have been ruled out for handball. He also said the Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans should have received a red card for a challenge on Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson.

Riley said lessons had been learnt as a result of the mistakes and that the 23 officials who are trained as VARs would be more likely to intervene to overturn the referee’s decision should similar incidents arise.

“We and the clubs believe that we should maintain a high bar in terms of when the VAR intervenes,” Riley told The Times. “In relation to the four incidents highlighted where the VAR should have overturned the referee’s decision, all the referees are now comfortable that they should do so if similar situations arise in the future.”

“Overall we are happy with the introduction of VAR. There have been six decisions overturned but we believe there should have been ten.”

To put it into perspective, there were almost  230 VAR checks so in fact fewer than 2% were actually deemed wrong. Referees will still be encouraged not to refer to pitch-side monitors in order to prevent more delays. “We do not want to impact the speed and flow of the game,” Riley said.

He added to Sky:  “We are learning as we go along and we are constantly improving. Out of the four match rounds so far, there have been some really good examples where we have intervened.  We are trying not to disrupt the flow of the game but on these (four) occasions, the judgement should have been that it was a clear and obvious error.”

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