Mike Riley announces changes to VAR – No more offsides for toe nails and noses

Last year it seemed like VAR was destrying fans’ enjoyment of the game by disallowing goals by ridiculous margins, like Chelsea’s goal in the last minute of the FA Cup Final, which would have needed a slide rule to figure out how far it was offside.


And what about when Dani Ceballos saw his headed effort against Fulham being ruled out after VAR adjudged Bukayo Saka’s toenail to have been offside in the build-up…

These ridiculous decisions, and the penalties awarded if there was the slightest contact with any arm or hand, made a mockery of a season that was already extremely disjointed because of Covid.


But now Mike Riley has announced that there will be big changes this season. “Fundamentally we want the approach to be one that best allows the players to go out and express themselves, allows the Premier League games to flow and means the refereeing team, both as referee and as VAR, don’t intervene for the trivial offences,” Riley told SkySports. “Let’s create a free-flowing game, where the threshold is slightly higher than it was last season.”


“The principles we established are: the referee should look for contact and establish clear contact, then ask if that contact has a consequence, and then has the player used that contact to try and win a foul or win a penalty,” Riley added. “It’s not sufficient to say ‘yes there’s contact.’


“I think partly we got into that frame of mind by the forensic analysis that went on in the VAR world. Contact on its own is only part of what the referee should look for; consider consequence and the motivation of the player as well.”


“On marginal offside, we’ve now effectively re-introduced the benefit of the doubt to the attacking player,” Riley said. “Where we have a really close offside decision, we carry on following the same process that we did last season with the one pixel lines; we’ll then put on the thicker broadcast lines, and where they overlap those situations will now be deemed as onside.


“What we give back to the game is 20 goals that we would have disallowed last season by using quite forensic scrutiny. So it’s the toe nails, the noses of the players who are offside; they might have been offside last season but next season they won’t be.”


Well, I don’t think I’ve ever said these words before, but WELL DONE MIKE RILEY.

Let’s hope that we can get back to free flowing football and can celebrate a goal when it goes in instead of waiting 5 minutes for a decision…


  1. Jachike Samuelson says:

    Finally, some good news ahead of the new season.

  2. gotanidea says:

    We might see more goals. But we’ll also see more Park the Bus tactics with eleven men in their own half, because it’s going to be more difficult to make offside traps

    1. Dan kit says:

      We should be alright then ,Arteta loves trying to find a parking space for his bus on match day .😂

      1. gotanidea says:

        Arteta’s tactic isn’t Park the Bus. Because he always assigns at least one attacker on the shoulder of the opposition’s last defender, when we don’t have the ball

        1. Rashid80 says:

          That’s exactly what parking the bus is!

          1. gotanidea says:

            Park the Bus tactic requires the team to lose the ball possession to their opposition. We usually try to dominate by winning the ball possession, especially when we play against smaller teams

          2. Tumisi Matshaba says:

            But this system should be like the goal ruling, where the goal is given when tje ball =has crossed the goal line 100%. So let the offside be ruled when body is 100% offside.

    2. Admin Pat says:

      I don’t think the difference between a toenail and 2 inches is going to cause that many problems. But it will definitely reduce fans frustration….

      1. gotanidea says:

        I thought the new offside/ VAR rules are based on Wenger’s proposal

    3. Goonster says:

      And there is going to be a lot of whinging and moaning from a lot of people if the decision goes against your club. “But but that goal against us is bitter pill for swallow. He would have been deemed offside last season”..

      1. gotanidea says:

        I’m sure of it!

  3. Dan kit says:

    The problem is the people using the technology ,having watched the Euros and the higher standard of referring from other parts of the world it makes you realise how far behind we are in terms of quality officiating in this country .
    Mike Riley being in charge says it all really .

    1. jon fox says:

      Could not agree more and well said DAN.

      My personal and consistent view is that VAR is harmful and should never have been adopted at all, mainly because it undermines the match referee anbd his word OUGHT to be final.
      To seek total perfection in any sports system used by humans is unrealistic and I have long held that such aims are unrealistic and unachievable.

      Secondly , how and why Mike Riley, who was a dreadful on field ref, is allowed such power to hold our sport to ransom is an obscenity and should be rectified by his immediate sacking IMO.

      1. Bob says:

        Jon, do you want to go back to the good old days when refs would always make poor decisions against us?

        There was a website that tracked bad ref decisions and we were in the top 5 for being screwed for something like 6 seasons running. It DID NOT average out as people like to lazily say about bad reffing that help their team. We were losing whole points every season for years while teams like Man U were gifted points and titles as a result.

        And also, tennis is near perfection when it comes to technology involvement so, yes, it’s definitely doable.

        The real problem is the implementation right now:
        the concept of “clear and obvious error” should be eliminated. It’s time consuming and doesn’t really provide any value. If there’s a game-changing error, it should be corrected. The end.
        That little tiny screen on the pitch should be thrown away. It’s time consuming and we could just empower the backroom refs to make the executive decision and relay it to the on-field ref.
        Offside checks should really be much quicker. I have no idea why it takes them so long in general. That should be done in less time than it takes for a goalie to do a goal kick.

        1. jon fox says:

          Bobs Then you totally disagree with my main point, which is that onfield refs should and must be the only decsion makers. I simply reject your website of bad decisions as an inaccurate statement.

          I will be writing a long and detailed article for JA this week setting out in full my detailed and fundamental objection to any VAR system that is NOT instantly decided (as goal line tech is). In time , technology wil be able to make all current VAR decisions both instant and 100% correctly( not as various refs opinions, like now)

          Til then we should not use a half baked and damaging system, as we do currently do.

    2. Sue says:

      👍👍 Spot on, Dan

    3. Ozziegunner says:

      Spot on Dan kit. All Mike Riley had to do was implement the same system and interpretation of VAR as across other European leagues.
      However that was all too hard for Riley and his incompetent officiatiators. There is a reason why they aren’t chosen to officiate at international tournaments; they are just not good enough.

      1. ken1945 says:

        Agree with Dan 100%.
        With no hard and fast rule, how many decisions will Riley instruct his henchmen to give The Arsenal???
        ZILCH – ZERO – NONE!!!

  4. 03 gooner says:

    Fabrizio Romano
    Granit Xhaka is expected to sign his new contract with Arsenal until June 2025 – final details still to be agreed, Granit open to discuss as he’s not joining AS Roma this summer. #AFC

    Yep, so that pretty much confirms he is not leaving and although I would have preferred we moved on from him, I have got my head around him staying for another 4 years and can live with him as 4th choice central midfield option behind Partey Lokonga and a new dm. We should now look to sell Elneny as it’s either or not both of them staying, please. We still have to sign a dm no if’s but’s or maybe’s, Bruno Guimeraes, Bissouma, Renato Sanches, Koopmeiners, Mikel and Edu pick one and go get it done! As someone who hasn’t voiced my opinion on Arteta often, this decision to renew Xhaka’s contract and state he is a key player going forward alongside a string of other questionable decisions on players that is all on him, NO EXCUSES he will either pleasantly surprise us all or will fall on his sword. If we are not in and around top 4 come December it’s curtains for him I’m afraid.

    1. Ozziegunner says:

      👍 Plenty to choose from, all of whom would improve the starting eleven, just choose wisely as the old crusader said.

    2. jon fox says:

      I have stood behind MA though I’ d have far preferred a world proven name As a realist though, I knew all along that under Kroenke we will not attract such a person, so have decideed to support MA as he is OUR MANAGER.

      That is what all TRUE SUPPORTERS DO, though there are many regulars on JA who do not believe in actually supporting, despite CLAIMING to be supporters!

      How they square that paradox I leave to them, as thinking deeply is often not their prime intention. SOME OF THEM DO NOT EVEN POSSESS THE ABILITY TO PROPERLY THINK!

  5. jon fox says:

    Ad PAT, I am very far from being alone in wanting VAR abolished in its entirety.
    Id keep just goal line tech , which is in any case not VAR. I firmly believe VAR undermines the onfield ref and my contention is that refs ought to be solely in charge and backed to the hklt by authorities and NOT undermined.

    I will shortly write a piece for JA setting out the full case against VAR- AT LEAST UNTIL AND UNLESS IT BECOMES AS INSTANT AS GOAL LINE TECH , WHICH DOES NOT THEREFORE UNDERMINE REFS.

    1. SueP says:

      Your last paragraph sums it up for me. The time spent on working out an offside for example, not only undermines the ref and linesmen but bores me rigid

      1. Bob says:

        How does it undermine refs?

        I’d measure undermining as how often players and fans dispute decisions as a result. There is without doubt a reduced number of disputes when VAR is involved from players and fans. Players almost never dispute on-field when VAR makes a decision (and definitely not the whole team surrounding the ref like they used to). Fans only ever dispute the very close VAR calls, which is far fewer than before. Take the Saka dispute above. People aren’t even arguing whether it’s offside or not anymore, they are arguing whether offside should count on such close margins, fundamentally an argument against the rules rather than the actual decision.

        But, yes, the decision making process needs to be streamlined and much quicker. Throwing away the little ref tv on the sidelines would help a lot.

        1. jon fox says:

          Oh Bobs On your opening line, If you really cannot see how and why VAR as currently and so slowly run undermines refs onfield authority , then it is pointless me even trying to explain it to you.

          I had expected a deeper intellect from you than to ask THAT QUESTION! Your very last line I agree with 100%.

          1. Bob says:

            That was a lot of words that could have just been used to answer the question if it’s so clear and obvious. Two sentences should suffice, surely?

          2. jon fox says:

            Bobs, wait a day or two and then read my detailed article on JA which will make my own and well known position abundantly clear. Though I have to repeat my question to you as to how and why you fail to understand that refs are underemined!

            LET ME ASK YOU THIS BOBS; do you HONESTLY feel VAR as currently run, has made our sport less or more enjoyable?

            Without fans en masse thr Prem is pointless, as Covid restrictions have amply shown. If fans dont want it, as countless polls tell us is true , then to implement it is wrong and harmful.

            What ethical company, ie the Prem in this case, deliberately upsets and annoys its customers and yet prospers? I say none at all !

            Think of the full and wider picture Bobs is what I RECOMMEND AS SENSIBLE AND ALSO AS ETHICAL.

          3. jon fox says:

            Bob My sincere apologies for confusing you, Bob, with Bobs, who is a different Gooner.

          4. Bob says:

            “How are refs undermined?”

            “Though I have to repeat my question to you as to how and why you fail to understand that refs are undermined!”

            I feel like answering a question with “Why don’t you get it?” must be some sort of fallacy argument.

            I’m going to play along even though you STILL refuse to answer the supposedly really easy question to answer.

            No, my personal enjoyment hasn’t changed at all from VAR (yes, I’m the minority). I spend an extra 5 minutes a match waiting for better decisions, big deal. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to improve on. It doesn’t mean their implementation isn’t surprisingly poor considering their options and I want change.

            Sure, 66% of people think VAR makes watching less enjoyable, but 75% of fans also say they prefer VAR to no VAR and just want it to be improved in two key areas: 1. Faster in general 2. Have screens that show fans what the refs are seeing in their decision-making process.

            You are in the VAST minority at 15% wanting it to be completely abolished and not just revised.

    2. Weeble says:

      Undermining the refs authority is the biggest issue for me. I would like to see a rule change though. Touch the ref and it’s a yellow unless the nitwit gets in the way…

  6. fairfan says:

    Another 20 goals over 380 games.
    One more goal every 20 games.
    One goal more for each team on average per season.
    Hardly a game changer.
    Why are there so few goals in Football?
    The PL average is 2.7 per game.
    The average number of passes per game is 900.
    So a billion pounds worth of players over 100 minutes and 900 passes only produces 2.7 goals on average per game.
    Utterly criminal.
    PL games should have many more goals.
    There should be a minimum of 6 goals per game.
    Reducing team numbers to 9 would help.

    1. SueP says:

      As a bit of fun from an Arsenal perspective which 2 from the first eleven would you be dropping?

  7. Namo says:

    @faifan, maybe we should stop having goalkeepers and make football look like basketball, right? 😆

    1. fairfan says:

      Yup 🙂
      No GK is a great idea.
      Perhaps restrict the goalie to the 6 yard box.
      The worst sight in football is when a free kick or corner is taken and 19 players are clogged in the penalty area. Utterly ridiculous.
      One idea to stop the clogging is to allow only 3 nominated players from each side in the penalty area at free kicks and corners.

      1. Kobin says:

        Lol mate. You are cracking me up! Great saves are part of the game. A game of no GKs, what are you smoking this morn!

  8. Kobin says:

    Yes fanfair, if we want a game of 62-45 we would watch Basketball. We love our 1-0, 2-1 games, thank you very much.

  9. siamois says:

    I believe the good refereeing and use of VAR during the Euros had a positive be impact.

  10. VasC says:

    VAR or no VAR, there shouldn’t be an offside call within the 18 yard box as long as an opposition outfield player is within the box. Offside rules were brought to curb unfair advantages taken by players to position themselves ahead in better goal scoring positions. Being an inch or two ahead in the 18 yard box with an opponent and the GK inside the 18 yard box doesn’t seem unfair, IMO.

  11. SueP says:

    I feel that the length of time it takes to get an answer does undermine them. If it isn’t obvious after 30/45 seconds then it is expecting too much of the officials to make the right call ever. Clear and obvious errors have made way for forensic detail. I don’t disapprove of VAR as we all want the right decision as far as possible but not at the expense of poring over a ‘toenail’ for a couple of minutes – just the way I feel

    1. SueP says:

      A reply to Bob from earlier

    2. Bob says:

      Thanks, that’s a reasonable explanation under the current rules of “clear and obvious error.”

      I’d rather they just scrap that rule instead of trying to make it work when it’s ambiguous. Stick with black and white, offside or no offside, but only if they can, like you said, make that determination in less than 60 seconds.

      1. jon fox says:

        Bob, Sue P has provided PART of what will be my answer to your repeated question. I hope you will patiently wait for my detailed article fully EXPLAINING to you and to anyone who wishes to read it.

        Time taken, while millions watch on TV, often for many minutes, re-examing a refs decision and then often agreeing with it, OBVIOUSLY undermines him.

        I had THOUGHT that was obvious to all. Clearly not so, as it seems.

Comments are closed

Top Blog Sponsors
JustArsenal Top Ten UK Blogs