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…
NO GOAL! Saka’s toe was just offside and VAR intervened. It’s the tightest of margins and Fulham survive!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 18, 2021
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…