So far so good with VAR, says English Premier League referee


English football’s referees chief Mike Riley professed himself to be satisfied with the way the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology has performed in the two games it has been used in so far.

The VAR was deployed firstly at Monday’s FA Cup third round clash between Brighton and Crystal Palace and then on Wednesday in the League Cup semi-final first leg match between Chelsea and Arsenal.

It earned the stamp of approval from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose latest battle with officials has landed him a three match touchline ban.

On Wednesday, referee Martin Atkinson consulted with video ref Neil Swarbrick, who sat in the Premier League’s control room in west London, on two penalty appeals — one for each team — but no decisions were overturned.

Riley, who is general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOB), said things had gone very smoothly so far.

“It has gone very well in the first few games,” Riley told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We’ve had the opportunity to use it, it has been used very effectively and we’ve come out with the right outcomes.

“The whole idea of the protocol is to have minimum interference on the game but get the right decisions to have the maximum impact.”

Riley, a former top level referee who has been in his present role since June 2009, conceded that one of the decisions taken in Wednesday’s game took far longer than had been the case in training.

“That (1minute 25seconds) is a little bit longer than we have done in training,” said Riley.

“It typically takes the VAR around 30 to 40 seconds to look at something.

“But we are at the start of the process and it will take time for the VARs to become accustomed to this.
The more we do of that the faster we will be at it and the less impact we will have on the game.”

Riley, whose career highlights included refereeing the 2002 FA Cup final and officiating at the Euro 2008 championships, also admitted spectators could be better informed as to when the technology was being deployed.

“It is really important for spectators in the stadium to understand when it is being used and when not,” said the 53-year-old Englishman.

“Currently, if you look at the referee, you will see him put his finger in his ear but I accept that in the stadium that can be quite difficult to see so the question now is how can we improve that experience for spectators.”

© Agence France-Presse