Tonight’s game between Brighton and Crystal Palace will see Video Assisted Refereering (VAR) used for the first time in the British game after successful trials across Europe, with this piece explaining exactly how it will work for those who are concerned.
Whilst, in essence, the system should simply act as a safety net for referees who have made mistakes in the heat of a fast-paced game, supporters are by definition creatures of habit, meaning that any proposed changes to the natural flow of a game such as this will always cause a degree of scepticism in the stands.
In fairness, the introduction of goal-line technology was implemented so smoothly, that top-flight football would now feel utterly ridiculous without it but given the need for humans to still make calls under this latest experiment with VAR, we’re almost certain to run into a few teething problems along the way.
From what I can gather, the match referee (in tonight’s case that’s Andre Marriner) will be told be officiate the game in exactly the same way as he would have done previously, with a video assistant on hand in his ear to alert him to any contentious incidents over the course of the 90 minutes in question. Should any controversy arise, Marriner will be asked to head over to the video screen situated in between the two dugouts to review the footage in question before reviewing whether or not he made the correct call first time around.
Understandably, supporters are concerned that the pace of the game will be impacted by regular stops and starts from the officiating team but as you can see from the piece attached above, referees are keen to stress that technology will only be used for goals, straight sending offs, penalty decisions and cases of mistaken identity, limiting the chances of games running on far longer than before as lengthy deliberations take place.
I’ve never been one to rally against the idea of video technology in the game, with my preference being that the correct decision is reached as often as possible but I have to admit to feeling a tad apprehensive about a game between Brighton and ourselves being used as an experiment for the future of the English game. To some on the outside it may not seem like a truly fierce rivalry but for those of us who are part of it, this doesn’t feel like the ideal game to kick off the VAR revolution.
Only time will tell.