Bristol City

Bristol City slideshow

Frank Lampard's first competitive game as Derby manager will kick-off the Championship campaign. Former England midfielder Lampard, who took over as boss of the Rams three weeks ago, takes his team to Reading on Friday, August 3. Derby also figured in the opening game of the 2017-18 campaign, drawing 1-1 at Sunderland. They went on to finish sixth but lost out to promoted Fulham in the play-offs, with Gary Rowett since leaving to join Stoke following their relegation from the Premier League. The opening round of Championship matches, revealed by the EFL on Thursday morning, will be spread over four days. There is an intriguing contest at Elland Road on Sunday, August 5, with Leeds hosting Stoke in what will represent the first competitive match with their new clubs for respective managers Marcelo Bielsa and Rowett. Marcelo Bielsa is the new Leeds coach Credit: afp Steve Bruce takes his Aston Villa side - beaten play-off finalists last month - to former club Hull on Monday, August 6, with the remaining nine Championship games taking place on the Saturday. Relegated West Brom, who confirmed Darren Moore as their permanent boss following an impressive stint as caretaker, open at home to Bolton while Graham Potter's Swansea - the other team bidding for an instant top flight return - have an evening game at Sheffield United. Of the promoted trio, League One champions Wigan start at home to Sheffield Wednesday, runners-up Blackburn are at Ipswich and play-off winners Rotherham go to Brentford. Elsewhere, Birmingham host Norwich, Middlesbrough are at Millwall, Bristol City face Nottingham Forest at Ashton Gate and Preston welcome QPR. There is deja vu among the final round of fixtures. Bolton ensured survival last month with a final-day home win over Nottingham Forest and the two teams meet again in their final game of next season, albeit at Forest. Lampard's Rams host West Brom in the most eye-catching May 5 fixture. Stoke finish at home to Sheffield United and Swansea are at Blackburn. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article In League One, Joey Barton starts his management career at Fleetwood with a home match against AFC Wimbledon. Sunderland, playing in the third tier of English football for only the second time after finishing bottom of last season's Championship, open with a home match against Charlton at 1230 on August 4. There are home games too for the other relegated sides, with Barnsley hosting Oxford and Burton taking on Rochdale. League Two champions Accrington open at home to Gillingham, Wycombe face Blackpool and play-off winners Coventry tackle Scunthorpe, with the other team to move up - Luton - away to Portsmouth. Beaten play-off finalists Shrewsbury - now under the leadership of John Askey - start at home to Bradford, Peterborough face Bristol Rovers, Southend host Doncaster and Plymouth go to Walsall. Macclesfield and Tranmere, back in the EFL after promotion last season, both start their League Two campaigns away from home. test - do not delete National League champions Macclesfield, with Mark Yates now at the helm following Askey's departure, open at Swindon. Tranmere - Wembley conquerors of Boreham Wood - begin at Stevenage. Bury, Northampton and Oldham all start with home games as they bid for an instant return to League One, with Yeovil, Lincoln and MK Dons - the other relegated team - the respective opponents. Carlisle have a near 700-mile round trip to beaten play-off finalists Exeter on the opening day, Notts County host Colchester and Mansfield are at home to Newport. Grimsby begin at home to Forest Green, Cheltenham host Crawley, Cambridge travel to Port Vale and Morecambe are at Crewe.
Football League fixtures 2018/19: Frank Lampard starts Championship campaign as Derby manager against Reading
Frank Lampard's first competitive game as Derby manager will kick-off the Championship campaign. Former England midfielder Lampard, who took over as boss of the Rams three weeks ago, takes his team to Reading on Friday, August 3. Derby also figured in the opening game of the 2017-18 campaign, drawing 1-1 at Sunderland. They went on to finish sixth but lost out to promoted Fulham in the play-offs, with Gary Rowett since leaving to join Stoke following their relegation from the Premier League. The opening round of Championship matches, revealed by the EFL on Thursday morning, will be spread over four days. There is an intriguing contest at Elland Road on Sunday, August 5, with Leeds hosting Stoke in what will represent the first competitive match with their new clubs for respective managers Marcelo Bielsa and Rowett. Marcelo Bielsa is the new Leeds coach Credit: afp Steve Bruce takes his Aston Villa side - beaten play-off finalists last month - to former club Hull on Monday, August 6, with the remaining nine Championship games taking place on the Saturday. Relegated West Brom, who confirmed Darren Moore as their permanent boss following an impressive stint as caretaker, open at home to Bolton while Graham Potter's Swansea - the other team bidding for an instant top flight return - have an evening game at Sheffield United. Of the promoted trio, League One champions Wigan start at home to Sheffield Wednesday, runners-up Blackburn are at Ipswich and play-off winners Rotherham go to Brentford. Elsewhere, Birmingham host Norwich, Middlesbrough are at Millwall, Bristol City face Nottingham Forest at Ashton Gate and Preston welcome QPR. There is deja vu among the final round of fixtures. Bolton ensured survival last month with a final-day home win over Nottingham Forest and the two teams meet again in their final game of next season, albeit at Forest. Lampard's Rams host West Brom in the most eye-catching May 5 fixture. Stoke finish at home to Sheffield United and Swansea are at Blackburn. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article In League One, Joey Barton starts his management career at Fleetwood with a home match against AFC Wimbledon. Sunderland, playing in the third tier of English football for only the second time after finishing bottom of last season's Championship, open with a home match against Charlton at 1230 on August 4. There are home games too for the other relegated sides, with Barnsley hosting Oxford and Burton taking on Rochdale. League Two champions Accrington open at home to Gillingham, Wycombe face Blackpool and play-off winners Coventry tackle Scunthorpe, with the other team to move up - Luton - away to Portsmouth. Beaten play-off finalists Shrewsbury - now under the leadership of John Askey - start at home to Bradford, Peterborough face Bristol Rovers, Southend host Doncaster and Plymouth go to Walsall. Macclesfield and Tranmere, back in the EFL after promotion last season, both start their League Two campaigns away from home. test - do not delete National League champions Macclesfield, with Mark Yates now at the helm following Askey's departure, open at Swindon. Tranmere - Wembley conquerors of Boreham Wood - begin at Stevenage. Bury, Northampton and Oldham all start with home games as they bid for an instant return to League One, with Yeovil, Lincoln and MK Dons - the other relegated team - the respective opponents. Carlisle have a near 700-mile round trip to beaten play-off finalists Exeter on the opening day, Notts County host Colchester and Mansfield are at home to Newport. Grimsby begin at home to Forest Green, Cheltenham host Crawley, Cambridge travel to Port Vale and Morecambe are at Crewe.
Frank Lampard's first competitive game as Derby manager will kick-off the Championship campaign. Former England midfielder Lampard, who took over as boss of the Rams three weeks ago, takes his team to Reading on Friday, August 3. Derby also figured in the opening game of the 2017-18 campaign, drawing 1-1 at Sunderland. They went on to finish sixth but lost out to promoted Fulham in the play-offs, with Gary Rowett since leaving to join Stoke following their relegation from the Premier League. The opening round of Championship matches, revealed by the EFL on Thursday morning, will be spread over four days. There is an intriguing contest at Elland Road on Sunday, August 5, with Leeds hosting Stoke in what will represent the first competitive match with their new clubs for respective managers Marcelo Bielsa and Rowett. Marcelo Bielsa is the new Leeds coach Credit: afp Steve Bruce takes his Aston Villa side - beaten play-off finalists last month - to former club Hull on Monday, August 6, with the remaining nine Championship games taking place on the Saturday. Relegated West Brom, who confirmed Darren Moore as their permanent boss following an impressive stint as caretaker, open at home to Bolton while Graham Potter's Swansea - the other team bidding for an instant top flight return - have an evening game at Sheffield United. Of the promoted trio, League One champions Wigan start at home to Sheffield Wednesday, runners-up Blackburn are at Ipswich and play-off winners Rotherham go to Brentford. Elsewhere, Birmingham host Norwich, Middlesbrough are at Millwall, Bristol City face Nottingham Forest at Ashton Gate and Preston welcome QPR. There is deja vu among the final round of fixtures. Bolton ensured survival last month with a final-day home win over Nottingham Forest and the two teams meet again in their final game of next season, albeit at Forest. Lampard's Rams host West Brom in the most eye-catching May 5 fixture. Stoke finish at home to Sheffield United and Swansea are at Blackburn. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article In League One, Joey Barton starts his management career at Fleetwood with a home match against AFC Wimbledon. Sunderland, playing in the third tier of English football for only the second time after finishing bottom of last season's Championship, open with a home match against Charlton at 1230 on August 4. There are home games too for the other relegated sides, with Barnsley hosting Oxford and Burton taking on Rochdale. League Two champions Accrington open at home to Gillingham, Wycombe face Blackpool and play-off winners Coventry tackle Scunthorpe, with the other team to move up - Luton - away to Portsmouth. Beaten play-off finalists Shrewsbury - now under the leadership of John Askey - start at home to Bradford, Peterborough face Bristol Rovers, Southend host Doncaster and Plymouth go to Walsall. Macclesfield and Tranmere, back in the EFL after promotion last season, both start their League Two campaigns away from home. test - do not delete National League champions Macclesfield, with Mark Yates now at the helm following Askey's departure, open at Swindon. Tranmere - Wembley conquerors of Boreham Wood - begin at Stevenage. Bury, Northampton and Oldham all start with home games as they bid for an instant return to League One, with Yeovil, Lincoln and MK Dons - the other relegated team - the respective opponents. Carlisle have a near 700-mile round trip to beaten play-off finalists Exeter on the opening day, Notts County host Colchester and Mansfield are at home to Newport. Grimsby begin at home to Forest Green, Cheltenham host Crawley, Cambridge travel to Port Vale and Morecambe are at Crewe.
Football League fixtures 2018/19: Frank Lampard starts Championship campaign as Derby manager against Reading
Frank Lampard's first competitive game as Derby manager will kick-off the Championship campaign. Former England midfielder Lampard, who took over as boss of the Rams three weeks ago, takes his team to Reading on Friday, August 3. Derby also figured in the opening game of the 2017-18 campaign, drawing 1-1 at Sunderland. They went on to finish sixth but lost out to promoted Fulham in the play-offs, with Gary Rowett since leaving to join Stoke following their relegation from the Premier League. The opening round of Championship matches, revealed by the EFL on Thursday morning, will be spread over four days. There is an intriguing contest at Elland Road on Sunday, August 5, with Leeds hosting Stoke in what will represent the first competitive match with their new clubs for respective managers Marcelo Bielsa and Rowett. Marcelo Bielsa is the new Leeds coach Credit: afp Steve Bruce takes his Aston Villa side - beaten play-off finalists last month - to former club Hull on Monday, August 6, with the remaining nine Championship games taking place on the Saturday. Relegated West Brom, who confirmed Darren Moore as their permanent boss following an impressive stint as caretaker, open at home to Bolton while Graham Potter's Swansea - the other team bidding for an instant top flight return - have an evening game at Sheffield United. Of the promoted trio, League One champions Wigan start at home to Sheffield Wednesday, runners-up Blackburn are at Ipswich and play-off winners Rotherham go to Brentford. Elsewhere, Birmingham host Norwich, Middlesbrough are at Millwall, Bristol City face Nottingham Forest at Ashton Gate and Preston welcome QPR. There is deja vu among the final round of fixtures. Bolton ensured survival last month with a final-day home win over Nottingham Forest and the two teams meet again in their final game of next season, albeit at Forest. Lampard's Rams host West Brom in the most eye-catching May 5 fixture. Stoke finish at home to Sheffield United and Swansea are at Blackburn. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article In League One, Joey Barton starts his management career at Fleetwood with a home match against AFC Wimbledon. Sunderland, playing in the third tier of English football for only the second time after finishing bottom of last season's Championship, open with a home match against Charlton at 1230 on August 4. There are home games too for the other relegated sides, with Barnsley hosting Oxford and Burton taking on Rochdale. League Two champions Accrington open at home to Gillingham, Wycombe face Blackpool and play-off winners Coventry tackle Scunthorpe, with the other team to move up - Luton - away to Portsmouth. Beaten play-off finalists Shrewsbury - now under the leadership of John Askey - start at home to Bradford, Peterborough face Bristol Rovers, Southend host Doncaster and Plymouth go to Walsall. Macclesfield and Tranmere, back in the EFL after promotion last season, both start their League Two campaigns away from home. test - do not delete National League champions Macclesfield, with Mark Yates now at the helm following Askey's departure, open at Swindon. Tranmere - Wembley conquerors of Boreham Wood - begin at Stevenage. Bury, Northampton and Oldham all start with home games as they bid for an instant return to League One, with Yeovil, Lincoln and MK Dons - the other relegated team - the respective opponents. Carlisle have a near 700-mile round trip to beaten play-off finalists Exeter on the opening day, Notts County host Colchester and Mansfield are at home to Newport. Grimsby begin at home to Forest Green, Cheltenham host Crawley, Cambridge travel to Port Vale and Morecambe are at Crewe.
<p>England fans celebrate at Ashton Gate stadium in Bristol.<br>(Picture: SWNS) </p>
England fans celebrate opening victory

England fans celebrate at Ashton Gate stadium in Bristol.
(Picture: SWNS)

Here we take a look at Iceland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know. Iceland's World Cup squad - the 23 names Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson. Iceland fans are optimistic of another upset Credit: julian simmonds Iceland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Argentina: Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Nigeria: Friday, June 22 at 4pm Croatia: Tuesday, June 26 at 7pm What odds are Iceland to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Iceland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Heimir Hallgrímsson, who was the joint-manager at Euro 2016 alongside Lars Lagerbäck, and is now the top man on the island. And works as a dentist. Who's the star? Gylfi Sigurdsson is without a doubt the class act, but the Everton man has not played since March with a knee injury. Worth the gamble. Best thing about them Heart, teamwork, unity, beards. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup will give it their all and are not to be underestimated. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more Worst thing about them It's all good, surely? Just a shame for Iceland that their international bunny, England, are not an opponent. You may recognise... Premier League/Championship battlers Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City). Cameramen will be picking out... Supporter mixture of large, bearded men with horn hats, and beautiful girls with face paint. TV directors' dream. Fans' favourite chant HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Accompanied by slow, joyous, intimidating thunderclaps. The best. On-field prediction Group stages. Cannot see them beating Argentina but could upset Croatia or Nigeria. Off-field prediction Surely favourites to be everyone's second favourite team? HOOOOOOOO!!!!! World Cup 2018 | All you need to know WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Iceland World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Here we take a look at Iceland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know. Iceland's World Cup squad - the 23 names Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson. Iceland fans are optimistic of another upset Credit: julian simmonds Iceland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Argentina: Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Nigeria: Friday, June 22 at 4pm Croatia: Tuesday, June 26 at 7pm What odds are Iceland to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Iceland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Heimir Hallgrímsson, who was the joint-manager at Euro 2016 alongside Lars Lagerbäck, and is now the top man on the island. And works as a dentist. Who's the star? Gylfi Sigurdsson is without a doubt the class act, but the Everton man has not played since March with a knee injury. Worth the gamble. Best thing about them Heart, teamwork, unity, beards. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup will give it their all and are not to be underestimated. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more Worst thing about them It's all good, surely? Just a shame for Iceland that their international bunny, England, are not an opponent. You may recognise... Premier League/Championship battlers Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City). Cameramen will be picking out... Supporter mixture of large, bearded men with horn hats, and beautiful girls with face paint. TV directors' dream. Fans' favourite chant HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Accompanied by slow, joyous, intimidating thunderclaps. The best. On-field prediction Group stages. Cannot see them beating Argentina but could upset Croatia or Nigeria. Off-field prediction Surely favourites to be everyone's second favourite team? HOOOOOOOO!!!!! World Cup 2018 | All you need to know WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Here we take a look at Iceland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know. Iceland's World Cup squad - the 23 names Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson. Iceland fans are optimistic of another upset Credit: julian simmonds Iceland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Argentina: Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Nigeria: Friday, June 22 at 4pm Croatia: Tuesday, June 26 at 7pm What odds are Iceland to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Iceland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Heimir Hallgrímsson, who was the joint-manager at Euro 2016 alongside Lars Lagerbäck, and is now the top man on the island. And works as a dentist. Who's the star? Gylfi Sigurdsson is without a doubt the class act, but the Everton man has not played since March with a knee injury. Worth the gamble. Best thing about them Heart, teamwork, unity, beards. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup will give it their all and are not to be underestimated. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more Worst thing about them It's all good, surely? Just a shame for Iceland that their international bunny, England, are not an opponent. You may recognise... Premier League/Championship battlers Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City). Cameramen will be picking out... Supporter mixture of large, bearded men with horn hats, and beautiful girls with face paint. TV directors' dream. Fans' favourite chant HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Accompanied by slow, joyous, intimidating thunderclaps. The best. On-field prediction Group stages. Cannot see them beating Argentina but could upset Croatia or Nigeria. Off-field prediction Surely favourites to be everyone's second favourite team? HOOOOOOOO!!!!! World Cup 2018 | All you need to know WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Iceland World Cup 2018 squad list and team guide
Here we take a look at Iceland's World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know. Iceland's World Cup squad - the 23 names Hannes Thor Halldorsson, Runar Alex Runarsson, Frederik Schram; Kari Arnason, Ari Freyr Skulason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, Hordur Magnusson, Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson, Ragnar Sigurdsson; Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Emil Hallfredsson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Olafur Ingi Skulason, Rurik Gislason, Samuel Fridjonsson, Aron Gunnarsson; Alfred Finnbogason, Bjorn Bergmann Sigurdarson, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Albert Gudmundsson. Iceland fans are optimistic of another upset Credit: julian simmonds Iceland's World Cup 2018 fixtures Argentina: Saturday, June 16 at 2pm Nigeria: Friday, June 22 at 4pm Croatia: Tuesday, June 26 at 7pm What odds are Iceland to win the World Cup? 200/1 The kits See where Iceland's shirts ends up in our ranking of all 64 World Cup shirts below: World Cup kits ranked Who's the coach? Heimir Hallgrímsson, who was the joint-manager at Euro 2016 alongside Lars Lagerbäck, and is now the top man on the island. And works as a dentist. Who's the star? Gylfi Sigurdsson is without a doubt the class act, but the Everton man has not played since March with a knee injury. Worth the gamble. Best thing about them Heart, teamwork, unity, beards. The smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup will give it their all and are not to be underestimated. Full 2018 World Cup squad lists and guides | Star to watch, odds, fans' chants and more Worst thing about them It's all good, surely? Just a shame for Iceland that their international bunny, England, are not an opponent. You may recognise... Premier League/Championship battlers Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley), Birkir Bjarnason (Aston Villa), Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) and Hordur Magnusson (Bristol City). Cameramen will be picking out... Supporter mixture of large, bearded men with horn hats, and beautiful girls with face paint. TV directors' dream. Fans' favourite chant HOOOOOOOO!!!!! Accompanied by slow, joyous, intimidating thunderclaps. The best. On-field prediction Group stages. Cannot see them beating Argentina but could upset Croatia or Nigeria. Off-field prediction Surely favourites to be everyone's second favourite team? HOOOOOOOO!!!!! World Cup 2018 | All you need to know WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
West Bromwich Albion have launched a £10m bid to sign Bristol City attacker Bobby Reid and Brentford’s Romaine Sawyers as the club prepares for the Championship. Darren Moore, Albion’s head coach, has offered around £7m for Reid and is hopeful of agreeing a fee with City this month. Reid scored 19 goals in the league last season and was a key figure as Lee Johnson reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals. Sawyers, a former West Brom academy graduate, is also high on Moore’s list of targets with a £3m bid understood to be imminent. West Brom are determined to back Moore as they aim for a swift return to the Premier League. West Brom are preparing a £3m bid for their former academy player Romaine Sawyers (right) Credit: John Walton/PA Jonny Evans was the first departure last week, following relegation into the second tier, after completing a £3m move to Leicester. The futures of Jay Rodriguez, Salomon Rondon and Jake Livermore are also uncertain, with a number of top-flight clubs ready to test Albion’s resolve. James McClean, the Republic of Ireland international, is a target for Stoke manager Gary Rowett. But Moore wants to keep the core of his squad together and Albion are poised to open talks with defender Craig Dawson over a new deal.
West Brom move to sign Bobby Reid and Romaine Sawyers as they prepare for the Championship
West Bromwich Albion have launched a £10m bid to sign Bristol City attacker Bobby Reid and Brentford’s Romaine Sawyers as the club prepares for the Championship. Darren Moore, Albion’s head coach, has offered around £7m for Reid and is hopeful of agreeing a fee with City this month. Reid scored 19 goals in the league last season and was a key figure as Lee Johnson reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals. Sawyers, a former West Brom academy graduate, is also high on Moore’s list of targets with a £3m bid understood to be imminent. West Brom are determined to back Moore as they aim for a swift return to the Premier League. West Brom are preparing a £3m bid for their former academy player Romaine Sawyers (right) Credit: John Walton/PA Jonny Evans was the first departure last week, following relegation into the second tier, after completing a £3m move to Leicester. The futures of Jay Rodriguez, Salomon Rondon and Jake Livermore are also uncertain, with a number of top-flight clubs ready to test Albion’s resolve. James McClean, the Republic of Ireland international, is a target for Stoke manager Gary Rowett. But Moore wants to keep the core of his squad together and Albion are poised to open talks with defender Craig Dawson over a new deal.
West Bromwich Albion have launched a £10m bid to sign Bristol City attacker Bobby Reid and Brentford’s Romaine Sawyers as the club prepares for the Championship. Darren Moore, Albion’s head coach, has offered around £7m for Reid and is hopeful of agreeing a fee with City this month. Reid scored 19 goals in the league last season and was a key figure as Lee Johnson reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals. Sawyers, a former West Brom academy graduate, is also high on Moore’s list of targets with a £3m bid understood to be imminent. West Brom are determined to back Moore as they aim for a swift return to the Premier League. West Brom are preparing a £3m bid for their former academy player Romaine Sawyers (right) Credit: John Walton/PA Jonny Evans was the first departure last week, following relegation into the second tier, after completing a £3m move to Leicester. The futures of Jay Rodriguez, Salomon Rondon and Jake Livermore are also uncertain, with a number of top-flight clubs ready to test Albion’s resolve. James McClean, the Republic of Ireland international, is a target for Stoke manager Gary Rowett. But Moore wants to keep the core of his squad together and Albion are poised to open talks with defender Craig Dawson over a new deal.
West Brom move to sign Bobby Reid and Romaine Sawyers as they prepare for the Championship
West Bromwich Albion have launched a £10m bid to sign Bristol City attacker Bobby Reid and Brentford’s Romaine Sawyers as the club prepares for the Championship. Darren Moore, Albion’s head coach, has offered around £7m for Reid and is hopeful of agreeing a fee with City this month. Reid scored 19 goals in the league last season and was a key figure as Lee Johnson reached the Carabao Cup semi-finals. Sawyers, a former West Brom academy graduate, is also high on Moore’s list of targets with a £3m bid understood to be imminent. West Brom are determined to back Moore as they aim for a swift return to the Premier League. West Brom are preparing a £3m bid for their former academy player Romaine Sawyers (right) Credit: John Walton/PA Jonny Evans was the first departure last week, following relegation into the second tier, after completing a £3m move to Leicester. The futures of Jay Rodriguez, Salomon Rondon and Jake Livermore are also uncertain, with a number of top-flight clubs ready to test Albion’s resolve. James McClean, the Republic of Ireland international, is a target for Stoke manager Gary Rowett. But Moore wants to keep the core of his squad together and Albion are poised to open talks with defender Craig Dawson over a new deal.
The Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, a key unifying figure in its rise to prominence as the most lucrative competition in the world, will quit later this year, an epochal moment that could yet threaten the league’s collective bargaining commitment. Scudamore, 58, told the 20 clubs at their shareholders meeting in London, including the news in the 'any other business section' of the agenda after they had discussed the broadcast deals with Amazon Prime and BT Sport and the new revenue-sharing solution for international broadcast rights. It is understood that some of his closest confidantes, including the Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, were aware that Scudamore was leaving after 20 years in the job but it came as a surprise to the rest of the club representatives. The Premier League staff received an email telling them of the decision and a media release was sent soon after that Scudamore would quit before the end of the year, bringing an era to an end. When Scudamore took over the job as chief executive in 1999, the domestic broadcast deal was worth £670 million and he leaves it at £4.55 billion, excluding whatever Amazon has paid. He pre-dates all the major club ownerships and has built his reputation upon years of ever-growing broadcast deals and the ability to bring to agreement a unique selection of oligarchs, Gulf oil billionaires, American venture capitalists and the remaining British owners. Scudamore has put collective bargaining at the heart of his reign ensuring that the league’s competitiveness has been maintained by a meritocratic sharing of the vast spoils of the television revenue generated from the like of Sky, BT Sport and a huge range of overseas broadcasters. Premier League club-by-club review His successor, who is yet to be appointed, will never be able to wield that kind of influence over the competing forces in the Premier League. One of Scudamore’s last acts was to announce a new revenue-sharing agreement for overseas broadcast deals which are growing quicker than the value of the domestic rights and were previously shared equally among the 20 clubs. He announced the sale of the two remaining broadcast packages to BT Sport and Amazon Prime, the first partner from among the big streaming corporations. Scudamore leaves with the domestic market finally slowing down having seen astonishing growth in the current cycle of rights, from 2016-2019. The clubs are said to have been reluctant to see him go but accepted his decision. Were the likes of Manchester United, especially, and also Liverpool and Arsenal to go alone in the future and negotiate their own television deals there would be little doubt that the league’s general competitiveness would be lost forever. Scudamore has kept them all in line by reminding shareholders that it is the power of the collective to provide competition every weekend that is the great strength of the Premier League. The Scudamore legacy He will see his greatest achievement as turning the league into the most lucrative in the world. He also pushed through the Elite Player Performance Plan which underpins youth development in the professional game’s academy system. He persuaded the clubs to adopt the £30 cap for away tickets. The league also pays around £100 million to community and grassroots programmes a year, including its Football Foundation charity, and another £100 million in solidarity payments to the Football League. His reign has not been without controversy. His proposal in February 2008 to play a 39th game overseas was conceived to give smaller clubs with little global appeal a share of the Premier League’s huge international audience. Instead it backfired and cast him as the enemy of English football. He was embroiled in a leaked email scandal in 2014. A Bristol City supporter who previously worked for the Football League, Scudamore has seen the sea-change in ownership from largely British families to a range of the planet’s super-rich. It is his organisation that has investigated the fitness of these owners to buy clubs and tried to keep them on the same page when it comes to their responsibilities to the rest of football. Buck said that the search for Scudamore’s successor had begun and the new man or woman will be expected to navigate a very different pay-TV market that is likely to feature more streaming platforms like Amazon. Scudamore said that he would spend more time watching his club Bristol City, still yet to play in the Premier League. He said he has no plans to retire.
Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore to stand down after almost 20 years in charge at end of year
The Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, a key unifying figure in its rise to prominence as the most lucrative competition in the world, will quit later this year, an epochal moment that could yet threaten the league’s collective bargaining commitment. Scudamore, 58, told the 20 clubs at their shareholders meeting in London, including the news in the 'any other business section' of the agenda after they had discussed the broadcast deals with Amazon Prime and BT Sport and the new revenue-sharing solution for international broadcast rights. It is understood that some of his closest confidantes, including the Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, were aware that Scudamore was leaving after 20 years in the job but it came as a surprise to the rest of the club representatives. The Premier League staff received an email telling them of the decision and a media release was sent soon after that Scudamore would quit before the end of the year, bringing an era to an end. When Scudamore took over the job as chief executive in 1999, the domestic broadcast deal was worth £670 million and he leaves it at £4.55 billion, excluding whatever Amazon has paid. He pre-dates all the major club ownerships and has built his reputation upon years of ever-growing broadcast deals and the ability to bring to agreement a unique selection of oligarchs, Gulf oil billionaires, American venture capitalists and the remaining British owners. Scudamore has put collective bargaining at the heart of his reign ensuring that the league’s competitiveness has been maintained by a meritocratic sharing of the vast spoils of the television revenue generated from the like of Sky, BT Sport and a huge range of overseas broadcasters. Premier League club-by-club review His successor, who is yet to be appointed, will never be able to wield that kind of influence over the competing forces in the Premier League. One of Scudamore’s last acts was to announce a new revenue-sharing agreement for overseas broadcast deals which are growing quicker than the value of the domestic rights and were previously shared equally among the 20 clubs. He announced the sale of the two remaining broadcast packages to BT Sport and Amazon Prime, the first partner from among the big streaming corporations. Scudamore leaves with the domestic market finally slowing down having seen astonishing growth in the current cycle of rights, from 2016-2019. The clubs are said to have been reluctant to see him go but accepted his decision. Were the likes of Manchester United, especially, and also Liverpool and Arsenal to go alone in the future and negotiate their own television deals there would be little doubt that the league’s general competitiveness would be lost forever. Scudamore has kept them all in line by reminding shareholders that it is the power of the collective to provide competition every weekend that is the great strength of the Premier League. The Scudamore legacy He will see his greatest achievement as turning the league into the most lucrative in the world. He also pushed through the Elite Player Performance Plan which underpins youth development in the professional game’s academy system. He persuaded the clubs to adopt the £30 cap for away tickets. The league also pays around £100 million to community and grassroots programmes a year, including its Football Foundation charity, and another £100 million in solidarity payments to the Football League. His reign has not been without controversy. His proposal in February 2008 to play a 39th game overseas was conceived to give smaller clubs with little global appeal a share of the Premier League’s huge international audience. Instead it backfired and cast him as the enemy of English football. He was embroiled in a leaked email scandal in 2014. A Bristol City supporter who previously worked for the Football League, Scudamore has seen the sea-change in ownership from largely British families to a range of the planet’s super-rich. It is his organisation that has investigated the fitness of these owners to buy clubs and tried to keep them on the same page when it comes to their responsibilities to the rest of football. Buck said that the search for Scudamore’s successor had begun and the new man or woman will be expected to navigate a very different pay-TV market that is likely to feature more streaming platforms like Amazon. Scudamore said that he would spend more time watching his club Bristol City, still yet to play in the Premier League. He said he has no plans to retire.
Fran Kirby’s immediate future with Chelsea Women is settled, but now she must find a place for a haul of winners’ medals and individual prizes that were the fruits of a magnificent season. The striker signed a new three-year contract at Stamford Bridge on Friday, a deal announced with pictures of Kirby holding a comically over-sized Chelsea shirt designed to fit “2021” on the back – the year the extension runs to. Kirby’s 24 goals fired Chelsea to a Women’s Super League One and FA Cup double. Her feats were recognised with both the Professional Footballers’ Association Women’s Player of the Year and the inaugural Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year. So, is the silverware tucked away in a draw or proudly on display? “They’re currently on the kitchen counter because I have nowhere to put them,” said Kirby, speaking at the FA Women’s Football Awards, for which The Telegraph was the media partner. “I am moving flat in July, so, hopefully, I can find a nice little cabinet that I can put them in and show them off a bit.” Three players feature on Chelsea’s promotional material for next season’s home kit: Willian, Eden Hazard and Kirby, a visual reminder of the diminutive forward’s growing stature. Dubbed “mini-Messi” by former England manager Mark Sampson and citing Thierry Henry as her childhood football idol, Kirby will be integral to England’s chances of success at next summer’s World Cup in France. Very happy to announce I’ve signed a new 3 year deal with @ChelseaFCW thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. Can’t wait to start the season again, to get back in with my team mates & hopefully continue the success ☺️ #KTBFFH#ChelseaFCpic.twitter.com/Os0Iey6tS9— Fran Kirby (@frankirby) June 1, 2018 The 24 year-old has developed into an attacking live wire, capable of drifting to either flank as well as linking play from her preferred No 10 position. Kirby joined Chelsea from Reading in 2015, and had no second thoughts about recommitting. Kirby said: “I’ve come out of myself as a person at Chelsea and expressed myself on and off the pitch. More than I have done at any other club. I enjoy being around the girls, the banter and everything like that. “It was a no-brainer for me given how much I love the club, how much I love the people and the staff. I’m happy to stay at Chelsea as long as they’re happy to have me.” Not that last season passed without disappointment, however. Chelsea were knocked out of the Uefa Women’s Champions League in the semi-finals by Wolfsburg, who Kirby acknowledged “thoroughly deserved” deserved to progress. With no English winner of Europe’s premier club competition since Arsenal in 2007, going one stage further in the tournament will surely be one of Chelsea’s main targets next season, with Kirby calling on her team-mates to keep “pushing ourselves to our limits”. Millie Bright (left) and Fran Kirby (right) at the Women's Footballer of the Year awards Credit: KATE GREEN The Chelsea story is not complete without reference to indefatigable manager Emma Hayes, who stayed on the sidelines shouting instructions while heavily pregnant. Hayes gave birth to a boy on May 17, just two days after Chelsea secured the league title with a win at Bristol City (she was an understandable absentee). The story was tinged by tremendous sadness however, with Hayes losing a twin in the third trimester. Speaking of Chelsea’s family atmosphere, Kirby said: “Everyone wants to be there for each other and push each other through – even when things are not going right. Emma being pregnant was another key example of that. “We all fully respected her and we all wanted her to be well, and she was an absolutely massive character being able to stand on the sideline when she was about to pop.” The structure of the women’s game will be radically overhauled next season, with clubs required to re-apply to the Football Association to determine which division they play in. Fran Kirby (right) celebrates winning the Women's FA Cup Final with Chelsea Credit: pa The top division will simply be known as the Women’s Super League, with 11-teams battling it out in a 20-game season. Below that will be the Women’s Championship, followed by the Women’s National League. Economic security is a priority for the FA, meaning there are sporting anomalies. Sunderland finished seventh in the top division last season but, subject to appeal, look set to play in the bottom tier. Brighton were named in the top division ahead of Doncaster Belles, even though the Yorkshire club finished above them. Newly formed Manchester United will play in the second tier, while third-division West Ham have jumped straight to the Super League. Kirby though, is confident the changes will lead to greater professionalism and avoid teams running into financial difficulty. “I think it’s a positive step for women’s football,” she said. “It’s to encourage more teams to get involved in the women’s game and that’s really important to grow. Also, it gives girls more of a pathway coming through. “Manchester United had an academy, but the girls didn’t have anywhere to go after that. So, it gives the girls another incentive to stay at the clubs they have been at.”
Meet Fran Kirby - England's 'mini-Messi' and key to their chances of success at next summer's World Cup
Fran Kirby’s immediate future with Chelsea Women is settled, but now she must find a place for a haul of winners’ medals and individual prizes that were the fruits of a magnificent season. The striker signed a new three-year contract at Stamford Bridge on Friday, a deal announced with pictures of Kirby holding a comically over-sized Chelsea shirt designed to fit “2021” on the back – the year the extension runs to. Kirby’s 24 goals fired Chelsea to a Women’s Super League One and FA Cup double. Her feats were recognised with both the Professional Footballers’ Association Women’s Player of the Year and the inaugural Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year. So, is the silverware tucked away in a draw or proudly on display? “They’re currently on the kitchen counter because I have nowhere to put them,” said Kirby, speaking at the FA Women’s Football Awards, for which The Telegraph was the media partner. “I am moving flat in July, so, hopefully, I can find a nice little cabinet that I can put them in and show them off a bit.” Three players feature on Chelsea’s promotional material for next season’s home kit: Willian, Eden Hazard and Kirby, a visual reminder of the diminutive forward’s growing stature. Dubbed “mini-Messi” by former England manager Mark Sampson and citing Thierry Henry as her childhood football idol, Kirby will be integral to England’s chances of success at next summer’s World Cup in France. Very happy to announce I’ve signed a new 3 year deal with @ChelseaFCW thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. Can’t wait to start the season again, to get back in with my team mates & hopefully continue the success ☺️ #KTBFFH#ChelseaFCpic.twitter.com/Os0Iey6tS9— Fran Kirby (@frankirby) June 1, 2018 The 24 year-old has developed into an attacking live wire, capable of drifting to either flank as well as linking play from her preferred No 10 position. Kirby joined Chelsea from Reading in 2015, and had no second thoughts about recommitting. Kirby said: “I’ve come out of myself as a person at Chelsea and expressed myself on and off the pitch. More than I have done at any other club. I enjoy being around the girls, the banter and everything like that. “It was a no-brainer for me given how much I love the club, how much I love the people and the staff. I’m happy to stay at Chelsea as long as they’re happy to have me.” Not that last season passed without disappointment, however. Chelsea were knocked out of the Uefa Women’s Champions League in the semi-finals by Wolfsburg, who Kirby acknowledged “thoroughly deserved” deserved to progress. With no English winner of Europe’s premier club competition since Arsenal in 2007, going one stage further in the tournament will surely be one of Chelsea’s main targets next season, with Kirby calling on her team-mates to keep “pushing ourselves to our limits”. Millie Bright (left) and Fran Kirby (right) at the Women's Footballer of the Year awards Credit: KATE GREEN The Chelsea story is not complete without reference to indefatigable manager Emma Hayes, who stayed on the sidelines shouting instructions while heavily pregnant. Hayes gave birth to a boy on May 17, just two days after Chelsea secured the league title with a win at Bristol City (she was an understandable absentee). The story was tinged by tremendous sadness however, with Hayes losing a twin in the third trimester. Speaking of Chelsea’s family atmosphere, Kirby said: “Everyone wants to be there for each other and push each other through – even when things are not going right. Emma being pregnant was another key example of that. “We all fully respected her and we all wanted her to be well, and she was an absolutely massive character being able to stand on the sideline when she was about to pop.” The structure of the women’s game will be radically overhauled next season, with clubs required to re-apply to the Football Association to determine which division they play in. Fran Kirby (right) celebrates winning the Women's FA Cup Final with Chelsea Credit: pa The top division will simply be known as the Women’s Super League, with 11-teams battling it out in a 20-game season. Below that will be the Women’s Championship, followed by the Women’s National League. Economic security is a priority for the FA, meaning there are sporting anomalies. Sunderland finished seventh in the top division last season but, subject to appeal, look set to play in the bottom tier. Brighton were named in the top division ahead of Doncaster Belles, even though the Yorkshire club finished above them. Newly formed Manchester United will play in the second tier, while third-division West Ham have jumped straight to the Super League. Kirby though, is confident the changes will lead to greater professionalism and avoid teams running into financial difficulty. “I think it’s a positive step for women’s football,” she said. “It’s to encourage more teams to get involved in the women’s game and that’s really important to grow. Also, it gives girls more of a pathway coming through. “Manchester United had an academy, but the girls didn’t have anywhere to go after that. So, it gives the girls another incentive to stay at the clubs they have been at.”
Fran Kirby’s immediate future with Chelsea Women is settled, but now she must find a place for a haul of winners’ medals and individual prizes that were the fruits of a magnificent season. The striker signed a new three-year contract at Stamford Bridge on Friday, a deal announced with pictures of Kirby holding a comically over-sized Chelsea shirt designed to fit “2021” on the back – the year the extension runs to. Kirby’s 24 goals fired Chelsea to a Women’s Super League One and FA Cup double. Her feats were recognised with both the Professional Footballers’ Association Women’s Player of the Year and the inaugural Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year. So, is the silverware tucked away in a draw or proudly on display? “They’re currently on the kitchen counter because I have nowhere to put them,” said Kirby, speaking at the FA Women’s Football Awards, for which The Telegraph was the media partner. “I am moving flat in July, so, hopefully, I can find a nice little cabinet that I can put them in and show them off a bit.” Three players feature on Chelsea’s promotional material for next season’s home kit: Willian, Eden Hazard and Kirby, a visual reminder of the diminutive forward’s growing stature. Dubbed “mini-Messi” by former England manager Mark Sampson and citing Thierry Henry as her childhood football idol, Kirby will be integral to England’s chances of success at next summer’s World Cup in France. Very happy to announce I’ve signed a new 3 year deal with @ChelseaFCW thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. Can’t wait to start the season again, to get back in with my team mates & hopefully continue the success ☺️ #KTBFFH#ChelseaFCpic.twitter.com/Os0Iey6tS9— Fran Kirby (@frankirby) June 1, 2018 The 24 year-old has developed into an attacking live wire, capable of drifting to either flank as well as linking play from her preferred No 10 position. Kirby joined Chelsea from Reading in 2015, and had no second thoughts about recommitting. Kirby said: “I’ve come out of myself as a person at Chelsea and expressed myself on and off the pitch. More than I have done at any other club. I enjoy being around the girls, the banter and everything like that. “It was a no-brainer for me given how much I love the club, how much I love the people and the staff. I’m happy to stay at Chelsea as long as they’re happy to have me.” Not that last season passed without disappointment, however. Chelsea were knocked out of the Uefa Women’s Champions League in the semi-finals by Wolfsburg, who Kirby acknowledged “thoroughly deserved” deserved to progress. With no English winner of Europe’s premier club competition since Arsenal in 2007, going one stage further in the tournament will surely be one of Chelsea’s main targets next season, with Kirby calling on her team-mates to keep “pushing ourselves to our limits”. Millie Bright (left) and Fran Kirby (right) at the Women's Footballer of the Year awards Credit: KATE GREEN The Chelsea story is not complete without reference to indefatigable manager Emma Hayes, who stayed on the sidelines shouting instructions while heavily pregnant. Hayes gave birth to a boy on May 17, just two days after Chelsea secured the league title with a win at Bristol City (she was an understandable absentee). The story was tinged by tremendous sadness however, with Hayes losing a twin in the third trimester. Speaking of Chelsea’s family atmosphere, Kirby said: “Everyone wants to be there for each other and push each other through – even when things are not going right. Emma being pregnant was another key example of that. “We all fully respected her and we all wanted her to be well, and she was an absolutely massive character being able to stand on the sideline when she was about to pop.” The structure of the women’s game will be radically overhauled next season, with clubs required to re-apply to the Football Association to determine which division they play in. Fran Kirby (right) celebrates winning the Women's FA Cup Final with Chelsea Credit: pa The top division will simply be known as the Women’s Super League, with 11-teams battling it out in a 20-game season. Below that will be the Women’s Championship, followed by the Women’s National League. Economic security is a priority for the FA, meaning there are sporting anomalies. Sunderland finished seventh in the top division last season but, subject to appeal, look set to play in the bottom tier. Brighton were named in the top division ahead of Doncaster Belles, even though the Yorkshire club finished above them. Newly formed Manchester United will play in the second tier, while third-division West Ham have jumped straight to the Super League. Kirby though, is confident the changes will lead to greater professionalism and avoid teams running into financial difficulty. “I think it’s a positive step for women’s football,” she said. “It’s to encourage more teams to get involved in the women’s game and that’s really important to grow. Also, it gives girls more of a pathway coming through. “Manchester United had an academy, but the girls didn’t have anywhere to go after that. So, it gives the girls another incentive to stay at the clubs they have been at.”
Meet Fran Kirby - England's 'mini-Messi' and key to their chances of success at next summer's World Cup
Fran Kirby’s immediate future with Chelsea Women is settled, but now she must find a place for a haul of winners’ medals and individual prizes that were the fruits of a magnificent season. The striker signed a new three-year contract at Stamford Bridge on Friday, a deal announced with pictures of Kirby holding a comically over-sized Chelsea shirt designed to fit “2021” on the back – the year the extension runs to. Kirby’s 24 goals fired Chelsea to a Women’s Super League One and FA Cup double. Her feats were recognised with both the Professional Footballers’ Association Women’s Player of the Year and the inaugural Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year. So, is the silverware tucked away in a draw or proudly on display? “They’re currently on the kitchen counter because I have nowhere to put them,” said Kirby, speaking at the FA Women’s Football Awards, for which The Telegraph was the media partner. “I am moving flat in July, so, hopefully, I can find a nice little cabinet that I can put them in and show them off a bit.” Three players feature on Chelsea’s promotional material for next season’s home kit: Willian, Eden Hazard and Kirby, a visual reminder of the diminutive forward’s growing stature. Dubbed “mini-Messi” by former England manager Mark Sampson and citing Thierry Henry as her childhood football idol, Kirby will be integral to England’s chances of success at next summer’s World Cup in France. Very happy to announce I’ve signed a new 3 year deal with @ChelseaFCW thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. Can’t wait to start the season again, to get back in with my team mates & hopefully continue the success ☺️ #KTBFFH#ChelseaFCpic.twitter.com/Os0Iey6tS9— Fran Kirby (@frankirby) June 1, 2018 The 24 year-old has developed into an attacking live wire, capable of drifting to either flank as well as linking play from her preferred No 10 position. Kirby joined Chelsea from Reading in 2015, and had no second thoughts about recommitting. Kirby said: “I’ve come out of myself as a person at Chelsea and expressed myself on and off the pitch. More than I have done at any other club. I enjoy being around the girls, the banter and everything like that. “It was a no-brainer for me given how much I love the club, how much I love the people and the staff. I’m happy to stay at Chelsea as long as they’re happy to have me.” Not that last season passed without disappointment, however. Chelsea were knocked out of the Uefa Women’s Champions League in the semi-finals by Wolfsburg, who Kirby acknowledged “thoroughly deserved” deserved to progress. With no English winner of Europe’s premier club competition since Arsenal in 2007, going one stage further in the tournament will surely be one of Chelsea’s main targets next season, with Kirby calling on her team-mates to keep “pushing ourselves to our limits”. Millie Bright (left) and Fran Kirby (right) at the Women's Footballer of the Year awards Credit: KATE GREEN The Chelsea story is not complete without reference to indefatigable manager Emma Hayes, who stayed on the sidelines shouting instructions while heavily pregnant. Hayes gave birth to a boy on May 17, just two days after Chelsea secured the league title with a win at Bristol City (she was an understandable absentee). The story was tinged by tremendous sadness however, with Hayes losing a twin in the third trimester. Speaking of Chelsea’s family atmosphere, Kirby said: “Everyone wants to be there for each other and push each other through – even when things are not going right. Emma being pregnant was another key example of that. “We all fully respected her and we all wanted her to be well, and she was an absolutely massive character being able to stand on the sideline when she was about to pop.” The structure of the women’s game will be radically overhauled next season, with clubs required to re-apply to the Football Association to determine which division they play in. Fran Kirby (right) celebrates winning the Women's FA Cup Final with Chelsea Credit: pa The top division will simply be known as the Women’s Super League, with 11-teams battling it out in a 20-game season. Below that will be the Women’s Championship, followed by the Women’s National League. Economic security is a priority for the FA, meaning there are sporting anomalies. Sunderland finished seventh in the top division last season but, subject to appeal, look set to play in the bottom tier. Brighton were named in the top division ahead of Doncaster Belles, even though the Yorkshire club finished above them. Newly formed Manchester United will play in the second tier, while third-division West Ham have jumped straight to the Super League. Kirby though, is confident the changes will lead to greater professionalism and avoid teams running into financial difficulty. “I think it’s a positive step for women’s football,” she said. “It’s to encourage more teams to get involved in the women’s game and that’s really important to grow. Also, it gives girls more of a pathway coming through. “Manchester United had an academy, but the girls didn’t have anywhere to go after that. So, it gives the girls another incentive to stay at the clubs they have been at.”
Fran Kirby’s immediate future with Chelsea Women is settled, but now she must find a place for a haul of winners’ medals and individual prizes that were the fruits of a magnificent season. The striker signed a new three-year contract at Stamford Bridge on Friday, a deal announced with pictures of Kirby holding a comically over-sized Chelsea shirt designed to fit “2021” on the back – the year the extension runs to. Kirby’s 24 goals fired Chelsea to a Women’s Super League One and FA Cup double. Her feats were recognised with both the Professional Footballers’ Association Women’s Player of the Year and the inaugural Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year. So, is the silverware tucked away in a draw or proudly on display? “They’re currently on the kitchen counter because I have nowhere to put them,” said Kirby, speaking at the FA Women’s Football Awards, for which The Telegraph was the media partner. “I am moving flat in July, so, hopefully, I can find a nice little cabinet that I can put them in and show them off a bit.” Three players feature on Chelsea’s promotional material for next season’s home kit: Willian, Eden Hazard and Kirby, a visual reminder of the diminutive forward’s growing stature. Dubbed “mini-Messi” by former England manager Mark Sampson and citing Thierry Henry as her childhood football idol, Kirby will be integral to England’s chances of success at next summer’s World Cup in France. Very happy to announce I’ve signed a new 3 year deal with @ChelseaFCW thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. Can’t wait to start the season again, to get back in with my team mates & hopefully continue the success ☺️ #KTBFFH#ChelseaFCpic.twitter.com/Os0Iey6tS9— Fran Kirby (@frankirby) June 1, 2018 The 24 year-old has developed into an attacking live wire, capable of drifting to either flank as well as linking play from her preferred No 10 position. Kirby joined Chelsea from Reading in 2015, and had no second thoughts about recommitting. Kirby said: “I’ve come out of myself as a person at Chelsea and expressed myself on and off the pitch. More than I have done at any other club. I enjoy being around the girls, the banter and everything like that. “It was a no-brainer for me given how much I love the club, how much I love the people and the staff. I’m happy to stay at Chelsea as long as they’re happy to have me.” Not that last season passed without disappointment, however. Chelsea were knocked out of the Uefa Women’s Champions League in the semi-finals by Wolfsburg, who Kirby acknowledged “thoroughly deserved” deserved to progress. With no English winner of Europe’s premier club competition since Arsenal in 2007, going one stage further in the tournament will surely be one of Chelsea’s main targets next season, with Kirby calling on her team-mates to keep “pushing ourselves to our limits”. Millie Bright (left) and Fran Kirby (right) at the Women's Footballer of the Year awards Credit: KATE GREEN The Chelsea story is not complete without reference to indefatigable manager Emma Hayes, who stayed on the sidelines shouting instructions while heavily pregnant. Hayes gave birth to a boy on May 17, just two days after Chelsea secured the league title with a win at Bristol City (she was an understandable absentee). The story was tinged by tremendous sadness however, with Hayes losing a twin in the third trimester. Speaking of Chelsea’s family atmosphere, Kirby said: “Everyone wants to be there for each other and push each other through – even when things are not going right. Emma being pregnant was another key example of that. “We all fully respected her and we all wanted her to be well, and she was an absolutely massive character being able to stand on the sideline when she was about to pop.” The structure of the women’s game will be radically overhauled next season, with clubs required to re-apply to the Football Association to determine which division they play in. Fran Kirby (right) celebrates winning the Women's FA Cup Final with Chelsea Credit: pa The top division will simply be known as the Women’s Super League, with 11-teams battling it out in a 20-game season. Below that will be the Women’s Championship, followed by the Women’s National League. Economic security is a priority for the FA, meaning there are sporting anomalies. Sunderland finished seventh in the top division last season but, subject to appeal, look set to play in the bottom tier. Brighton were named in the top division ahead of Doncaster Belles, even though the Yorkshire club finished above them. Newly formed Manchester United will play in the second tier, while third-division West Ham have jumped straight to the Super League. Kirby though, is confident the changes will lead to greater professionalism and avoid teams running into financial difficulty. “I think it’s a positive step for women’s football,” she said. “It’s to encourage more teams to get involved in the women’s game and that’s really important to grow. Also, it gives girls more of a pathway coming through. “Manchester United had an academy, but the girls didn’t have anywhere to go after that. So, it gives the girls another incentive to stay at the clubs they have been at.”
Meet Fran Kirby - England's 'mini-Messi' and key to their chances of success at next summer's World Cup
Fran Kirby’s immediate future with Chelsea Women is settled, but now she must find a place for a haul of winners’ medals and individual prizes that were the fruits of a magnificent season. The striker signed a new three-year contract at Stamford Bridge on Friday, a deal announced with pictures of Kirby holding a comically over-sized Chelsea shirt designed to fit “2021” on the back – the year the extension runs to. Kirby’s 24 goals fired Chelsea to a Women’s Super League One and FA Cup double. Her feats were recognised with both the Professional Footballers’ Association Women’s Player of the Year and the inaugural Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year. So, is the silverware tucked away in a draw or proudly on display? “They’re currently on the kitchen counter because I have nowhere to put them,” said Kirby, speaking at the FA Women’s Football Awards, for which The Telegraph was the media partner. “I am moving flat in July, so, hopefully, I can find a nice little cabinet that I can put them in and show them off a bit.” Three players feature on Chelsea’s promotional material for next season’s home kit: Willian, Eden Hazard and Kirby, a visual reminder of the diminutive forward’s growing stature. Dubbed “mini-Messi” by former England manager Mark Sampson and citing Thierry Henry as her childhood football idol, Kirby will be integral to England’s chances of success at next summer’s World Cup in France. Very happy to announce I’ve signed a new 3 year deal with @ChelseaFCW thank you to everyone who helped make this happen. Can’t wait to start the season again, to get back in with my team mates & hopefully continue the success ☺️ #KTBFFH#ChelseaFCpic.twitter.com/Os0Iey6tS9— Fran Kirby (@frankirby) June 1, 2018 The 24 year-old has developed into an attacking live wire, capable of drifting to either flank as well as linking play from her preferred No 10 position. Kirby joined Chelsea from Reading in 2015, and had no second thoughts about recommitting. Kirby said: “I’ve come out of myself as a person at Chelsea and expressed myself on and off the pitch. More than I have done at any other club. I enjoy being around the girls, the banter and everything like that. “It was a no-brainer for me given how much I love the club, how much I love the people and the staff. I’m happy to stay at Chelsea as long as they’re happy to have me.” Not that last season passed without disappointment, however. Chelsea were knocked out of the Uefa Women’s Champions League in the semi-finals by Wolfsburg, who Kirby acknowledged “thoroughly deserved” deserved to progress. With no English winner of Europe’s premier club competition since Arsenal in 2007, going one stage further in the tournament will surely be one of Chelsea’s main targets next season, with Kirby calling on her team-mates to keep “pushing ourselves to our limits”. Millie Bright (left) and Fran Kirby (right) at the Women's Footballer of the Year awards Credit: KATE GREEN The Chelsea story is not complete without reference to indefatigable manager Emma Hayes, who stayed on the sidelines shouting instructions while heavily pregnant. Hayes gave birth to a boy on May 17, just two days after Chelsea secured the league title with a win at Bristol City (she was an understandable absentee). The story was tinged by tremendous sadness however, with Hayes losing a twin in the third trimester. Speaking of Chelsea’s family atmosphere, Kirby said: “Everyone wants to be there for each other and push each other through – even when things are not going right. Emma being pregnant was another key example of that. “We all fully respected her and we all wanted her to be well, and she was an absolutely massive character being able to stand on the sideline when she was about to pop.” The structure of the women’s game will be radically overhauled next season, with clubs required to re-apply to the Football Association to determine which division they play in. Fran Kirby (right) celebrates winning the Women's FA Cup Final with Chelsea Credit: pa The top division will simply be known as the Women’s Super League, with 11-teams battling it out in a 20-game season. Below that will be the Women’s Championship, followed by the Women’s National League. Economic security is a priority for the FA, meaning there are sporting anomalies. Sunderland finished seventh in the top division last season but, subject to appeal, look set to play in the bottom tier. Brighton were named in the top division ahead of Doncaster Belles, even though the Yorkshire club finished above them. Newly formed Manchester United will play in the second tier, while third-division West Ham have jumped straight to the Super League. Kirby though, is confident the changes will lead to greater professionalism and avoid teams running into financial difficulty. “I think it’s a positive step for women’s football,” she said. “It’s to encourage more teams to get involved in the women’s game and that’s really important to grow. Also, it gives girls more of a pathway coming through. “Manchester United had an academy, but the girls didn’t have anywhere to go after that. So, it gives the girls another incentive to stay at the clubs they have been at.”
The Bristol City defender was a surprise omission from Australia's squad
'Gutted' Bailey Wright believes he deserved Socceroos selection
The Bristol City defender was a surprise omission from Australia's squad
The Bristol City defender was a surprise omission from Australia's squad
'Gutted' Bailey Wright believes he deserved Socceroos selection
The Bristol City defender was a surprise omission from Australia's squad
The Bristol City defender was a surprise omission from Australia's squad
'Gutted' Bailey Wright believes he deserved Socceroos selection
The Bristol City defender was a surprise omission from Australia's squad
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.
English football's 21 biggest VAR decisions and how they panned out
Depending on your perspective, the 2017-18 season was the first step to a more just footballing future or a worrying lurch towards a joyless dystopia. We are talking of course about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee System, which English football got its first taste of in the FA Cup third round. Though goal-line technology has been utilised successfully in the Premier League since 2013-14, VAR is the first attempt to use technology to correct more subjective decisions. VAR intervenes when the officials have made a 'clear and obvious error' in one of four key areas: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Teething problems have included: failing to communicate decisions to match-going fans, ambiguity about what is a 'clear and obvious' error, lengthy delays, wavy lines, faulty technology and thwarted celebrations. Here is a blow-by-blow account of what unfolded when we decided to open Pandora's Box . Glenn Murray's goal Brighton and Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace, FA Cup 3rd round, January 8 Glenn Murray's late goal was allowed to stand after the referee consulted the VAR The season's second A13 derby between Brighton and Crystal Palace was a historic occasion, as the Video Assistant Referee system made its debut in English football. A drab game passed without much incident, until Glenn Murray bundled home the winner against his former club in the 87th minute. Palace claimed the ball had struck his hand, but replays confirmed it had in fact gone in off his knee. Video referee Neil Swarbrick informed on-field official Andre Marriner there was no need for an on-field review and the goal stood. VAR verdict: Correct decision. Ainsley Maitland-Niles penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Ainsley Maitland Niles carried on his run rather than going down Bristol City's Ashton Gate did not have the technology to support VAR, so the next time we saw the system was in the other Carabao Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Chelsea. Alex Iwobi's first-half attempt was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois but the fleet-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles got to the rebound first ahead of Chelsea's Victor Moses. He nicked the ball past Moses, who caught him lightly on his right boot. The Arsenal youngster stumbled but stayed upright and referee Martin Atkinson waved away shouts for a penalty. Granit Xhaka led the appeals, and Atkinson put his hand to his earpiece to consult Neil Swarbrick. He advised there was no obvious error, and the original decision stood. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Cesc Fabregas penalty appeal Chelsea vs Arsenal, Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, January 10 Replays showed Danny Welbeck got his foot to the ball Much like Maitland-Niles' appeal earlier in the match, this was a case of two players going for the ball and there being a split second between a foul and a clean tackle. Atkinson gave a corner - because he thought Danny Welbeck had got his foot to the ball - and replays showed his first instinct was correct. There was a delay before the corner was taken as Atkinson again pressed his hand to his ear-piece and the penalty was not given. Antonio Conte was unhappy post-match that the five minutes stoppage time did not account for the use of technology. VAR verdict: Contentious, but probably correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's disallowed goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Demarai Gray could not get his cross in before the ball had gone out Kelechi Iheanacho thought he had doubles Leicester's lead against Fleetwood when he converted Demarai Gray's pull-back, but linesman Lee Betts judged the ball had gone for a goal-kick. Referee John Moss checked the decision with VAR Mike Jones, who confirmed the linesman was right to raise his flag. No goal. VAR verdict: Correct. Kelechi Iheanacho's 'offside' goal Leicester City vs Fleetwood Town, FA Cup third round replay, January 16 Kelechi Iheanacho's goal against Fleetwood stood The first case of the video assistant refereeing overturning the referee's original decision. Kelechi Iheanacho latched onto Riyad Mahrez's through ball and tucked it away, before the linesman's flag cut his celebrations short. Jon Moss blew his whistle to disallow the goal, then put his finger to his ear to ask Mike Jones, the VAR, to check. Using the replays which feature a series of lines across the pitch, Jones told Moss the Nigerian was onside and the goal was good to stand. Moss made a rectangular TV signal, blew his whistle and pointed back to the centre circle to signal a goal. The celebrations at the King Power recommenced. VAR verdict: Correct. Willian's 'Dive' Chelsea vs Norwich City, FA Cup third round replay, January 17 The VAR decided there was no 'clear and obvious' error The most controversial incident since the system the was introduced. Willian's went down under the challenge of Timm Klose, but Graham Scott waved away his penalty appeal and booked the Brazilian for diving. The video referee Mike Jones did not intervene despite the fact contact replays showed between Willian and Klose. Whether that contact was sufficient for a penalty continued to be debated post-match, but there was complete consensus that Scott was wrong to book Willian for simulation. The Professional Game Match Officials Ltd admitted as much the next day. VAR verdict: Failed. West Brom's disallowed goal at Anfield Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Gareth Barry was in an offside position West Brom fans were delirious in the Anfield Road end thinking their team had a 3-1 lead inside 20 minutes, only to see the goal (correctly) ruled out two minutes later. Replays showed Gareth Barry was in an offside flick-on when Craig Dawson's head met a West Brom corner, but there was widespread confusion at Anfield. Referee Craig Pawson stood with his hand to his ear as VAR Andre Marriner looked at the replays before judging there was a clear and obvious. To add to the sense of the bizarre, Liverpool 2 West Brom 2 then flashed up on the scoreboard. VAR verdict: A farce but the correct decision. Liverpool's penalty against West Brom Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Mo Salah went down under the challenge of Jake Livermore A rare case of an 'on-field review', as Pawson walked over to the side of the pitch to watch a replay on a TV screen. Mo Salah was felled in the West Brom penalty area after Jake Livermore pulled his shirt. The forward pleaded with Pawson to consult the technology available, but it took four minutes for the penalty to finally be awarded. To West Brom's relief, Roberto Firmino hit the bar from the spot. VAR verdict: Contentious call and took too long. West Brom's third allowed to stand Liverpool vs West Brom, FA Cup fourth round, January 26 Pawson checked if Craig Dawson was offside West Brom's third came on the stroke of half-time and again Pawson spoke to VAR Marriner via his earpiece to check if Craig Dawson was offside. He was not, and after Joel Matip turned his low cross into the Liverpool net the goal was allowed to stand. VAR verdict: Correct. Juan Mata's disallowed goal for offside at Huddersfield Huddersfield vs Man Utd, FA Cup fifth round, February 17 Mata's right knee was adjudged to be offside Credit: BT Sport Juan Mata looked to have doubled Man Utd's lead in the FA Cup fifth round at Huddersfield, rounding the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net. Referee Kevin Friend consulted with VAR for what look a marginal offside decision, and after a two or three minute wait eventually disallowed the goal when replays showed Mata's knee was offside. That was not the end of the controversy, however. During BT Sport's live coverage, a replay appeared with lines that looked as if they had been drawn by a four-year-old with crayon. Graphics provider Hawk Eye later issued an apology for a technical problem. VAR verdict: Farce. A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to @btsportfootball last night. To confirm, the #VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise. pic.twitter.com/QqbAWVfbi1— Hawk-Eye Innovations (@Hawkeye_view) February 18, 2018 Erik Lamela disallowed goal for a foul by Fernando Llorente Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Fernando Llorente was penalised for a foul Erik Lamela thought he had put Spurs in front in their FA Cup replay against League One Rochdale, tapping into an empty net after Fernando Llorente held off Harrison McGahey. Referee Pal Tierney spent about a minute consulting VAR however, before chalking the goal off when it was decided the Spanish striker had committed a foul. It was just the start of a chaotic 50-minute halve at Wembley. FA chief executive Martin Glenn later admitted this decision was a 'mistake'. VAR verdict: A mess. Lucas Moura penalty appeal Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Lucas Moura's penalty appeal was turned down Credit: Reuters McGahey was once again at the centre of the action after 22 minutes when Lucas Moura went to ground under his challenge. Tierney reviewed the decision - resulting in another stoppage of a minute or so - and concluded that the contact was insufficient to give a penalty. VAR verdict: Correct. Tottenham penalty fiasco Tottenham Hotspur vs Rochdale, FA Cup fifth-round replay, February 28 Spurs were awarded a free-kick before VAR judged the foul took place inside the area Credit: AFP Kieran Trippier is fouled by Rochdale's Matt Done and Spurs are awarded a free-kick. However, VAR judged that the foul had happened inside the penalty area and the decision was changed to a penalty kick. Heung-min Son stepped up and tucked it away, before events took another bizarre turn. Son was penalised for stuttering his run up Credit: BBC Sport Referee Tierney blew his whistle to address VAR, before showing Son a yellow card and disallowing the goal before he 'feinted' just before striking the penalty. The Laws of the Game indicate that a player deemed to have feinted at the end of his run should be shown a yellow card for unsporting behavior, though stuttering mid-run is permitted. VAR verdict: Strange, but technically correct. Heung-min Son disallowed goal Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur, FA Cup quarter-final, March 16 Spurs in FA Cup action again, as a Heung-min Son goal was disallowed for offside in their comfortable 3-0 quarter-final victory at Swansea. The Tottenham forward was flagged for offside, but crashed a shot in off the crossbar. It was a marginal call and referee Kevin Friend decided to consult VAR, which upheld the original decision by the finest of margins. Potential controversy was averted, because the referee had already blown his whistle when Son shot and Swansea's defenders could have claimed they stopped playing. VAR verdict: Successful. Italy's late penalty against England England vs Italy, international friendly, March 27 Debate raged as to whether James Tarkowski's challenge was a foul Credit: AP England's concession of a late penalty was the only blemish on an otherwise encouraging night for Gareth Southgate, and it proved controversial. Federico Chiesa skipped into the England penalty area with a few minutes to play, and took a tumble in the middle of a crowded England defence as the ball ran out of play. Initially, Italy's player's appealed vociferously for a corner. But on the advice of the video assistant, referee Deniz Aytekin reviewed the incident at the side of the pitch giving the 'box' signal that indicates a review. England were on the wrong end of VAR Replays showed Tarkwoski stood on Chiesa's foot, although the Italian was already on his way down and had lost control of the ball. The referee changed his original decision and awarded the penalty which Lorenzo Insigne converted. Even after several slow-motion replays, opinion was divided about the call, with Gareth Southgate feeling the original decision did not constitute a 'clear and obvious' error. VAR verdict: Contentious. Appeal for Antonio Valencia to be sent off Manchester United vs Tottenham, FA Cup semi-final, April 21 Antonio Valencia was substituted immediatley after the incident Credit: BBC Sports Spurs were unhappy that Manchester United right-back escaped a second yellow card after dragging Dele Alli to the ground. The Tottenham attacker had pinched the ball from Valencia as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a throw, and in a panic he dragged Dele down as he drove towards the penalty area. Despite VAR being in use in both FA Cup semi-finals, the decision was not reviewed. Jose Mourinho's decision to immediately substitute Valencia was perhaps an admission of guilt. VAR verdict: Should have intervened, unsuccessful. Southampton's disallowed goal Chelsea vs Southampton, FA Cup semi-final, April 22 Mark Hughes was furious that VAR was not consulted Credit: BBC Sport Southampton were denied an equaliser in their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea when Charlie Austin was judged to have fouled Willy Caballero. The Chelsea goalkeeper looked to spill a high ball over the line but the referee's whistle spared his blushed. Mark Hughes vented his anger post-match, saying: "We had no luck, the keeper made a glaring mistake and miscontrolled it. I assumed VAR was in operation and it was a clear opportunity or situation to review and get it correct." VAR verdict: Contentious. Alexis Sanchez disallowed goal Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Alexis Sanchez was rightly flagged for offside and Man Utd were denied an equaliser Credit: BTSport Manchester United thought they had found an equaliser as they pushed forward in the second half of the cup final, but Alexis Sanchez's goal was ruled out for offside. Thibaut Courtois brilliantly saved a Phil Jones header that was creeping in the bottom corner before Sanchez turned home the rebound. The linesman raised his flag, and VAR confirmed with referee Michael Oliver that the decision was correct. VAR verdict: Successful. Chelsea penalty appeal for Ashley Young handball Chelsea vs Manchester United. FA Cup final, May 19 Ashley Young's arm was not deemed to be in an unnatural position The final use of VAR in the domestic season. After David de Gea saved from Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses' chipped cross struck Ashley Young on the arm. Chelsea appealed vociferously but once again VAR ruled that Michael Oliver was correct to wave away their protests. That the ball struck Young's arm is not in doubt, but it was from point-blank range and his arm was deemed to be in a natural position. No penalty. VAR verdict: Contentious. Conclusion Despite the practical difficulties of introducing VAR, the fundamental problem with the system could turn out to be a philosophical one. VAR will undoubtedly lead to more correct decisions, the question is whether it is worth altering the very fabric of the game for the sake of a few percent accuracy. For players and managers with reputations on the line, the desire to rid football of 'injustice' is an understandable one. What about fans, however? The spontaneous eruption of joy that spreads through a stadium when the ball hits the net is football's essence. To curtail and sterilise that moment could threaten football as a source of entertainment. The only certainty is that now technology has been introduced, there is little chance of turning back - the toothpaste is out of the tube. There may be trouble ahead.

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