PREMIER LEAGUE managers have told league chiefs they have “absolutely no idea” what the handball Law is supposed to be.
And now top flight leaders are asking managers and players to help them determine where referees should draw a line on handball and other incidents.
League leaders also concede that VAR delays are making the match-going experience “poor” for supporters. Despite that, they insist that Prem referees are “as good if not better than they have ever been”.
And while there was a vow to speed up decision making, the league cannot promise that Uefa-style limb-tracking technology will be introduced next season.
The concerns of top flight managers emerged at a meeting with the Prem earlier this season – following a number of contentious calls.
Tony Scholes, the former Stoke executive who is now the Prem’s Chief Football Officer, said: “One manager made the comment, which was supported by a number of the others, that he had ‘absolutely no idea’ where the handball law was.
“Then they commented on where they thought it should be..
“We believe we have to serve the game and how football feels the Laws should be interpreted. So we are now talking to captains, managers, club executives and consulting the PFA, LMA and Football Supporters Association to try to find agreement going forward.”
Howard Webb and his team at PGMOL have come under fire over a series of calls this term, with Arsenal, Wolves and Nottingham Forest among clubs who have written official letters of complaint. Scholes suggested that was a “disappointing” stance and said the rulings by the league’s Key Match Incident panel, made up of former players, managers and referees, indicated officials were “as good or even better than they have ever been”.
Prem figures said that of the 57 decisions changed by VAR so far this term, only THREE – Luiz Diaz’ wrongly disallowed goal for Liverpool at Spurs, a “handball” goal by Burnley’s Sander Berge that was ruled out at Nottingham Forest and the Kai Havertz penalty that was overturned in Arsenal’s win over Manchester United were mistakes.
In addition, there were a further 17 incidents where VAR officials should have intervened, but Scholes pointed out: “Last year there had been 25 such errors by this point in the season and now we are getting 96 per cent of decisions right.”
He said: “If the object was to improve the accuracy of decision-making VAR has been a significant success. Any mistake can have an incredible effect on a club or individual and we know we can always improve. It is not perfect.
“The time it is taking to come to some decisions is making the experience for the fan in the stadium a poor one, nowhere near good enough and we have to address that.”
Scholes though, was unable to confirm that limb-tracking technology, already used by Fifa and Uefa, would be deployed in the Prem next season. He dismissed the idea that “issues” that have emerged are because of the Prem’s contract with Nike with the two governing bodies use adidas balls. However, Scholes said: “Semi-automated offsides will speed up the time to make decisions but I can’t say it will definitely come in next season.
“We want to be certain it will improve the situation but in testing there have been issues on what we call the ‘edge’ cases, where many things are occurring at once.
“You might have a lot of bodies in one place and it is the ability of the system to identify different parts of the body.
“For the vast majority of cases there won’t be an issue but in our competition we want to be clear before we introduce anything that we are not introducing something that will give us unintended or unanticipated problems in other areas.” — The Sun.