Lee Mason axed from VAR duties this weekend for role in Newcastle v Palace controversy

·3-min read
Lee Mason VAR referee Credit: PA Images
Lee Mason VAR referee Credit: PA Images

Lee Mason has not been selected as a VAR for a Premier League match at the weekend following a controversial disallowed goal for Newcastle on Saturday.

Mason, who became a dedicated VAR at the start of last season after retiring as a referee, was in the booth for the Newcastle v Crystal Palace match on Saturday where the home side had a goal ruled out.

On-field referee Michael Salisbury initially awarded an own goal by Tyrick Mitchell to Newcastle but, after a review was recommended by Mason, he gave a foul against Joe Willock who had collided with Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Replays suggested the collision had been caused by Mitchell shoving Willock in the back and that the goal should have stood.

The Premier League is understood to have asked the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) group responsible for referees for further information on that incident, as well as the decision to disallow Maxwel Cornet’s late goal for West Ham at Chelsea on the same afternoon.

Andrew Madley, the referee who disallowed the goal at Stamford Bridge, has been selected to referee the Liverpool v Wolves match on Saturday, while the VAR in the game, Jarred Gillett, will be the referee at the Leicester v Aston Villa clash the same day.

Gillett as VAR had advised Madley to look again at the goal, after spotting a possible foul by West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen on Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy in the build-up.

Hammers boss David Moyes described the decision to disallow the goal as “scandalous”.

Not the first VAR issues for Mason 

Mason was the VAR involved in two controversial red card incidents in January and February of last year, with Mike Dean the on-field referee on both occasions. Mason did not referee a match on the weekend which followed the second of those incidents, but was listed as a fourth official.

He was involved in another controversial incident later in February 2021. Brighton defender Lewis Dunk scored a quick free-kick in the first half of a Premier League match at West Brom, which Mason disallowed before changing his mind and awarding the goal.

However, after VAR checked the goal, Mason had to blow his whistle again to confirm it had been ruled out, sparking angry reactions from the Brighton players.

Dunk described the decision to rule out the goal as “horrendous” and claimed the referee lost control of the game, which the hosts won 1-0.

Salisbury will be the VAR at the Southampton v Brentford match this weekend.

Hackett blasts outgoing refs chief Mike Riley

Former referees’ chief Keith Hackett feels officials have been “hung out to dry” due to a lack of leadership from PGMOL general manager Mike Riley, who will stand down at the end of the year to be replaced by Howard Webb.

Hackett told the PA news agency: “We’re in our fourth season of VAR and we’re not operating it well.

“These officials don’t get to the Premier League without being good referees. In some ways they have been made to look foolish this weekend by what has happened. They must feel that they’ve been let down.

“They have been hung out to dry because there’s no leadership. There’s no guidance, there’s no coaching.

“That ultimately has to come down to the person running the organisation (Riley). The interaction between the referee and the VAR is suspect.

“One of the reasons for that is you’ve got current referees who might referee on a Saturday suddenly becoming a VAR on a Sunday. I don’t think that’s conducive to good officiating.”

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