By Tony Attwood
The PGMO, the fanatically secretive organisation that runs refereeing in the Premier League, have decided what they regularly decide – the rest of the world is getting it wrong, and only the PGMO are right.
So while the rest of football uses pitchside monitors to assist with VAR this will only happen very sparingly in PL football. I think the reason that is emerging is that it is because of the unique nature of the Premier League, although I am not sure anyone has said that in public.
The one really good thing that has come out of the PGMO meeting about VAR with the clubs is that we hear it was very fractious. Which means someone somewhere is standing up for those clubs that are being penalised unduly by the way VAR is being operated by PGMO.
Now this is a hard topic for the mainstream media to deal with because of the contracts they have signed with the PGMO which allows them to use the press room facilities at the clubs. Criticising referees or suggesting there is something fundamentally wrong with football, is something they simply cannot do.
What’s more PGMO feel secure enough about this situation to have released the statement that, “The policy of using the Referee Review Area was discussed and it was re-emphasised that it would be reserved for unseen incidents, or when information from the VAR is outside the expectation range of the referee. Ensuring the pace and tempo of Premier League football remains an important focus for clubs.”
However, the statement continued saying that both the Premier League and PGMO, “were committed to improving the consistency of decisions, speeding up processes and increasing communication to fans”. That is worrying for Arsenal for the rulings are at best erratic and at worst consistently negative. And as we know, Arsenal have been suffering unduly for some very poor, eccentric and downright odd VAR decisions this season.
Mind you the fact that Mike Riley is reported to have said that improvement was needed, is something, I suppose. Indeed it is unique – because up to the start of this season the word was that referees were getting 98.5% of all decisions correct – although the supporting evidence for this was never released.
One change we have been told about however is that there will be more information as to what was checked, but this of course by passes what most of us actually want to know which is how exactly decisions to be reviewed by VAR are chosen and what criteria are actually being used.
But in perhaps the most bizarre statement the PL announced that it would be looking on how the “processes could be improved,” – a clear indication that no one is looking at whether the accuracy could be upgraded.
Above all, what we were not told was why the PL and PGMO were continuing to operate VAR in a way that most of the rest of European football was not using, why it was introduced a year late, why some clubs were particularly angry about the use of VAR, and why there has still been no acknowledgement of the Uefa match fixing statement to the effect that match fixing was now so out of control and rising so fast that Uefa could no longer police it, let alone control it.
As a result we are most likely to get more of the same while media criticism of the VAR implementation will be very much restricted, as per the PGMO regulations.
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