Neil Lennon believes that VAR is killing English football.
When Video Assistant Referees were introduced during the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia there was a broad acceptance that they were getting much more decisions right than wrong.
After several years on goal-line technology in the EPL this season has seen the introduction of VAR with confusion reigning over just what is going on.
Every goal requires a second check to see that there has been no infringement at any stage with goals being disallowed because a players’ boot or part of their upper body has been ruled to be offside.
With the moment of contact with the ball unable to be cleared managers, players and fans are becoming highly critical as decisions are made remotely at the Stockley Park VAR centre.
Despite having screens pitchside to review decisions no referee has taken up that option with all decisions made from video analysed far from the stadium.
Asked about it’s impact at his media conference today Lennon said:
I don’t get it Charles (Paterson of Sky Sports), honestly. I don’t get it.
Asked if he was grateful that it wasn’t in operation in Scotland Lennon replied:
Yes, I thought initially when they were going to bring it in it would be good for the game but I think that it’s killing the game at the minute. Some of the decisions we’ve seen over the last couple of weekends in the Premier League are baffling to say the least.
I think of the Watford v Spurs game the week before and some more at the weekend, are they taking the decisions away from the referees altogether with what they are doing?
Now they are talking about bringing the TV screen in for the referee himself which is probably the logical step but then you have a committee somewhere else telling the referee.
I get it to a certain degree but I think they’re overdoing it now, really overdoing it. We’re talking now about millimetres, I always thought that when it comes to offside the benefit of the doubt will go to the attacking player because at the end of the day, we are here to see goals being scored.
Asked if it was affordable would he want to see it in Scotland he replied:
I think that there are always going to be teething problems, we don’t like changing the game too much. I think later on down the line it will be good for the game. I just think, at the minute, from what I’ve seen in England they are just over egging it. It’s killing the flow of the game and certainly detrimental to some of the results.
It takes a spontaneous aspect away from the game. If the decisions are correct, I suppose we can’t argue with it. I think we are really over-egging it now in terms of millimetres when it comes to decisions.
Bobby Madden and Willie Collum are the only Scottish referees with any VAR training but they won’t be given any big Champions League appointments because they need VAR officials from other countries.
Asked if it was unfair for Scottish referees to miss out because of VAR Lennon said:
I hope not, I think that most Scottish referees would welcome VAR as an aid to what they are doing at the minute. That was quite evident when we had a managers’ meeting with referees about a year ago. I think that the majority of managers were in favour of bringing it into the game as well. It’s the cost first and foremost, I think that it’s still got a lot of teething problems at the minute.
If Celtic reach the last 32 of the Europa League they will be involved in matches using VAR.