The video assistant referee system was introduced into the premier league to eliminate controversial decisions from the game. Instead it has introduced more than I recall seeing before the system was introduced.

Here is an example from Nottingham Forest v Burnley last night, both images show potential handballs in the immediate buildup to ‘goals’. Both were reviewed by the same VAR, Darren England. England does not intervene in the first, he sends the referee to review the screen in the second.

Two handballs in build-up, Forest v Burnley

So some key points:

  1. These incidents are practically identical, they are either both goals, or they are not.
  2. In sending the referee to the screen to review his decision, there is an assumption that the decision must be wrong - the referee is not making this decision, the VAR is. Only very rarely does the referee stand by their on-field decision.
  3. When the referee reviews the screen, they are shown only the footage that appears to be condemnatory, they are not shown other angles of the footage that appear to support upholding the original decision.

Disallowing the second goal is clearly a bad decision. However, the circumstances are identical, the decision maker the same, and their is no significant lapse of time between the decisions. This cannot be simply dismissed as a bad decision - same individual, identical facts - why a different decision?

PGMOL needs to urgently explore, and explain, what it is about their referee’s underlying belief and value systems that result in almost identical incidents like these being treated differently by the same reviewer just minutes apart.

Continuing to apologise for bad decisions made by VAR is simply not good enough. Confidence in the integrity of the system and the individuals involved in it needs to be rebuilt.

FWIW - on the balance of play the draw was probably a fair result last night, though it feels more like a couple of points dropped.