It’s time to bin VAR and give referees the chance to correct their own grievous mistakes using a cricket-style review system.
For two seasons, men in a Stockley Park bunker have been killing football with their jobsworth interference – or negligent failure to intervene when there is a demonstrable injustice.
Fans don’t want VAR. The technology is fine, but the application of it has been useless.
What we want is the chance to overturn ludicrous decisions – right here, right now – without external intervention to preserve football’s integrity.
So here’s the deal. When a manager (or head coach) feels aggrieved by a rotten decision, he has 20 seconds to consult a laptop screen or pitchside monitor – every professional club uses them now for analytical purposes – and raise the alarm through the fourth official.
A klaxon or red light will alert everyone in the ground to what’s going on.
The referee goes to consult the monitor or laptop screen by the touchline and has a chance to review his (or her) decision.
No need to involve the joyless foot soldiers of nit-pickery in a bunker. The on-field referee reviews his own call. Should take about 30 seconds – less than a time-wasting goalkeeper winding down the clock to take a goal-kick.
If the ref reverses his original decision, the aggrieved manager keeps his review for the remainder of the 90 minutes.
If the manager was bluffing, or wrong, he loses his review.
The system works reasonably well in cricket – why should it not work in football?
If a review system was in place, and referees were given the chance to correct their mistakes, it would solve a glut of mysteries, and kill a thousand controversies, at source.
Referees are human beings. They make mistakes, just like players or managers.
A review system is better than wheeling them out to explain their decisions when the damage has been done. Give them a chance to prevent the damage in the first place.
If nothing else, it means Mr Neil Warnock – who had every right to be outraged by the duff hand Middlesbrough suffered at Swansea – may yet be given the chance to grow old gracefully.