Referees are finally set to start using pitchside monitors in Premier League matches – potentially as soon as this weekend.
Officials have been encouraged to review their own decisions when it comes to possible sending-off offences amid a growing outcry over their failure to use the monitors once since Video Assistant Referees were introduced into the world’s richest league.
That included during Arsenal’s draw at Crystal Palace last Saturday when Paul Tierney upgraded Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s yellow card to a red after consulting the VAR but without checking the monitor for himself.
In an FA Cup third-round tie a week earlier, Michael Oliver did utilise the pitchside monitor before upgrading Palace captain Luka Milivojevic’s yellow card in their defeat against Derby County, something that merely raised further questions about the lack of such reviews in the Premier League.
But a referees summit this week saw officials encouraged to review potential red-card incidents themselves, with it felt Tierney should probably have made the final call last weekend to confirm his authority and make the decision more likely to be accepted by both players and fans.
A source told the Daily Telegraph the briefing did not represent a “U-turn” on the policy of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd that monitors should be used sparingly but was a reinforcing of the types of incidents which warrant a pitchside review.
The news was welcomed by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who said: “It is a positive move. The referee will be taking responsibility himself. I like that.”
However, speaking after the Milivojevic sending-off, Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “If it is going to be the referee’s decision on that field that counts, why do you bother with the VAR people sitting there in Stockley Park?
“Make up your mind. You either want the people in Stockley Park to referee it or the referee to referee it.”