Everton have written an official complaint expressing their worries over the use of VAR in the Premier League this season.

This follows a shareholders meeting last Thursday where VAR was a hot topic. PGMOL, the referees association, Premier League chiefs and representatives from all 20 clubs attended to discuss the issue.

Everton’s VAR woes

League officials have admitted that Marco Silva’s side were on the wrong end of a VAR decision, when a penalty was given against Michael Keane in their loss against Brighton in October.

Andy Madley dismissed penalty claims for the accidental collision between Michael Keane and Aaron Connolly. VAR stepped in however, overruling the referee to award a penalty to Brighton.

Neal Maupay beat Pickford from the spot and the Seagulls would go on to grab a last minute winner at the Amex Stadium.

Michael Keane
Michael Keane at the centre of VAR controversy
Courtesy of Everton FC

VAR took centre stage again in the Toffee’s next game against Tottenham. Everton could have been awarded a penalty after Dele Alli handled in the area. But after a check, a spot kick was not awarded.

There were also lengthy checks for possible penalties at either end involving Richarlison and Son Heung-Min, both of which were turned down.

Silva’s comments following his side’s victory against Southampton summed up his feelings on the issue. He said: “We played five games… and we could possibly be talking here about four wins and one draw.

Marco Silva
Silva remains unimpressed with current use of technology.
Courtesy of Everton FC

“We could be talking about how the team reacted so strongly and showed the capacity we have.

“We know why in the previous game [at Brighton] we did not win and we could be in a completely different position in the table.”

The debate on VAR has been a season long drama, and it is not just Everton’s recent matches that have been overshadowed by the use of the technology.

Klopp keeps faith

Liverpool’s commanding victory over Manchester City on Sunday was marred with VAR controversy. Fabinho’s sixth minute opener preceded a VAR check over what appeared to be handball in Liverpool’s own box by Alexander-Arnold seconds before. Fortunately for the Reds the goal was given, amidst the protests from the City players.

Firmino’s disallowed goal against Villa the previous week too sparked debate. The Brazilian tapped home a Sadio Mane cross but was judged by VAR to be offside. The replays showed what is arguably the tightest offside call VAR has made this season. Pundits and fans alike are split on whether he was truly in an offside position when the ball was played.

Jurgen Klopp remains a believer that VAR will come good.

Jurgen Klopp believes the system needs time. He said: “It is clear it’s a process where they have to keep on improving.

“There is space for mistakes, nobody asks for perfection, just to have the right decision, that’s all.”

Technology set to undergo changes

At the shareholder meeting last Thursday, PGMOL boss Mike Riley spoke for over an hour. He then faced 50 minutes of grilling from representatives from each of the PL clubs.

Riley admitted the league needs to improve the speed and consistency of decisions, as well as communication to the fans inside the stadium.

He also announced that the Premier League would be commissioning Hawkeye, who provide the in-stadia updates, to give more information to fans regarding VAR checks and decisions.

For example: Under the new parameters a message will appear saying “Checking Penalty – Possible Handball” instead of just “Checking Penalty”.

Referees stateside utilise pitchside monitors more liberally. Should the PL follow their example?

However, despite calls from many for the pitch side monitors to be used more often, the Premier League remained adamant that their usage would remain restricted.

An official said: “it would be reserved for unseen incidents, or when information from the VAR is outside the expectation range of the referee”.

Chief of VAR, Neil Swarbrick has also said how the system is a “work in progress”.

Speaking to Sky Sports after last weekend’s Premier League matches he said: “We are in the infancy with VAR, and you need to give us time to operate and utilise it.

“It’s taken quite a few years for other sports to get to where they are today regarding the technology. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Swarbrick remained confident in the system, telling BBC he would give its use so far this season a “seven-ish” out of 10.

“We have more decisions correct with VAR than without it.”

Give us your thoughts on VAR. Should it be used? What can be done to improve it? Comment below.

Photo Credits: Everton FC; SounderBruce licensed by Creative Commons(CC);
Mehdi Bolourian licensed by CC.