Are commentators influencing Premier League VAR decisions?

Date published: Thursday 13th May 2021 2:25 - Editor F365

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Chelsea vs Arsenal
As someone who generally only watches football on TV these days , I have noticed and many of my mates have as well that the commentators in Premier League games can hear exactly what those in charge of VAR are saying with a feed from Stockley Park.

However, as the season has progressed it has become my belief that despite their protestations to the opposite , Stockley Park can hear what the commentators are saying and furthermore are being influenced by the protestations of those commentating .

There have been occasions where Gary Neville will pontificate ” that was a coming together” and no foul will be given when in weeks previous a penalty has been awarded for the same event.

That brings me to last nights game , Mason Mount , belts one from the edge of the area towards goal , Rob Holding spreads himself to block the shot and the ball cannons off his hand which had moved as he set himself for the block.
A blatant penalty.

What did Martin Tyler say ? Nothing .
What did Alan ” Ex Arsenal” Smith say ? Nothing

Ten to fifteen seconds of dead air where normally they’d be chattering like chipmunks on crack .

Chelsea don’t get the penalty they deserve, as well as the penalty they deserve when the Arsenal player brings down Havertz and Smith informs VAR that there was no contact despite the opposite being true.

Chelsea now have to win their last two games to qualify for Europe and Liverpool United is ramped up with the prospect of SKY getting another all or nothing super duper mega Sunday .

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Mark Kelly


Punishing Man Utd and why it’s not a “terrible idea”
It’s fine for Andy (MUFC) to politely call my proposal to establish a rule to deduct points from any club who’s fans deliberately prevent fixtures from being fulfiled a terrible idea. He is entitled to his opinion. What he is not entitled to is wrongly conflating my idea with “awarding Liverpool 3 points”. At no point did I suggest that, and that would indeed make no sense, it would incentivize the away fans to disrupt the fixture, which is the opposite of what I was suggesting.

The best way to ensure sporting integrity is to ensure fixtures are played, sure Andy, but Manchester United failed to do that, didn’t they? What happens the next time this happens, Manchester United’s match gets reorganized yet again, with nothing to disincentivize the fans from continuing to do so? Your comment that “it could probably easily happen at any club” is absolutely baseless speculation. First of all, only three clubs have fans that hate their owners to that degree, and secondly each ground exists in its own neighborhood, has a different set of people in charge of security, and coordinate with a different police force. But let’s put that to the side, the fact that it can happen at any club is the exact reason why there needs to be an incentive to prevent fans from doing so. You ask how often points deductions happen in the top flight – how often have fixtures been deliberately obstructed by fan protests? Not since 1992, as Mediawatch helpfully pointed out. I know that FC Sion in Switzerland got a points deduction for non-financial reasons in the last 10 years, I imagine it has happened in other leagues too but can’t seem to find a good source (maybe F365 can write a top 10 list article or something!)

Suggesting that ManUtd should be punished for what happened is not an anti-ManUtd position. It’s not even a pro-Liverpool position. Do you really think that Liverpool fans aren’t at risk of protesting something or other in future? It’s one of the strengths of our fanbase. It is very easy to imagine Liverpool fans reacting to something by preventing a match from taking place. If that happened I would feel the same way. I would think the same if it was West Brom or if it was Brighton. This is not a partisan position, and I’m really sorry that some people are so tribal that they can’t see the woods for the trees.

Quickly to answer Calvino, Liverpool fans were condemned by the media and by UEFA for attacks on team buses arriving at Anfield. It’s hard to find articles about it because if you google “Liverpool Manchester City punishment” you get results about ESL temper tantrums rather than anything useful, but I can see that in 2018 UEFA charged LFC with 10 counts of misconduct, 4 of which related to the Manchester City incident. They were punished, so that kinda completely undermines your argument, doesn’t it. As for the “start getting used to Thursday nights” jab, well, I’m not sure what to say, we’ve only been out of the Europa League for like 3 years, I don’t think we’re un-used to them yet?
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


The man for Spurs…
I was reading the article about Pochettino’s Spurs and read the article a few weeks ago about who should take over Spurs, and I have a question; why is Gian Gasperini not considered an option? Or am I missing something?

Under Gasperini in the last 3 years, Atalanta have finished 3rd and been highest scorers in the league, 3rd again and highest scorers in the league by some way, and are currently 2nd in the league and highest scorers again. They also reached the last 16 of the Champions League and the quarter finals and were very unlucky against PSG in that game. They also reached the Coppa Italia final and lost to Lazio and are in this year’s Coppa final. This isn’t a team like that Monaco team a few seasons back full of incredible players, anyone would struggle to name their players (not like Spurs having a prime Harry Kane, Dele, Son, Erikson, Walker, Dembele etc.). And they weren’t bought by a State or tycoon and flooded with cash; they had to play their European home games in different stadiums because they didn’t even meet UEFA requirements. If it happened one year you could call it luck, but for 3 years it’s not luck; it’s exceptional coaching, so why is he not linked anywhere else?

Obviously it could be that he might not manage a ‘big’ club so his name isn’t flouted as much, but he’s never even linked to even Palace or Newcastle or someone else. It could be he has no interest in it either, but I just haven’t seen any kind of link with him or even it being questioned and was curious as to why, or if the mailbox knows why.
James, Galway


Great nostalgic teams
Even as an Arsenal fan I enjoyed the nostalgic article looking back at Spurs 16/17 team and season they had.  Some of the great prem teams can easily be forgotten simply because they didn’t win the title, of course that is understandable, but some of these ‘nearly teams’ were great to watch and are worth remembering.  If you have plans to do more of these I’d nominate Arsenal 07/08.  Most people remember this for the Eduardo injury and subsequent Galas meltdown season, but it was also the season where Arsenal hit 83 points, had Adebayor and Fabregas at the peak of their powers and a wonderfully balanced classic 4-4-2 system. In the 34th game they lead at Old Trafford and fell to a penalty and free kick to lose 2-1 to the eventual champions.  Had they kept that 1-0 win Arsenal would have been champions even with the 4 game winless run post Eduardo.
Rich (AFC)


Apathy City
I used to get upset about the frothing at the mouth of the Anti City brigade but made my peace with it- you can’t be popular and successful in such a tribal game such as football.

I keep reading that City have a got a bottomless pit of money- correction, the FFP rules brought in by the clubs whose fans are whingeing the most ensured that we were neutered in that respect. Chelsea inflated the market long before City- they signed our best player, SWP and he was their reserve winger.

And dear me, hiring lawyers to fight a charge you believe is spurious? I trust you would hire a lawyer who’d only just done his articles to fight a murder charge?

I checked with Amnesty international and surprisingly, their membership hasn’t dramatically increased in North London, Merseyside and Stretford regions with all you conscientious fans citing the human rights abuses. I suppose with the British human rights abuses you no longer bank with Barclays and Natwest?

But the main one, is people taking the time to email and signing off Angry, about the apathy around City- if there was genuine apathy then the mailbox would not have letters in it- Muppets.

Bucks Fizz for Breakfast with Muesli was lovely on Wednesday morning.

I know we shouldn’t bite. I know it’s a sign that we are accepting the premise of the statement and that’s half the battle.  I’ve spent a whole career working in corporate communications and I know this is wrong. So I am largely going to ignore the response of United, Liverpool and Arsenal fans to City’s title triumph because we all know what that’s driven by (we really do) Instead, as a city supporter of 30+ years I just wanted to provide some qualitative feedback on the drivel written about city in the mailbox and comments section. Not all the comments. There are some genuinely funny people on this site and I enjoy their nonsense as much as the next fan. But here are two insights

1. City fans, in common with 99% of other fans, don’t need the confirmation or acknowledgement of other fans in order to enjoy our victories. Your anguish is enough for us and you’ve displayed it in spades. Thank you. It’s a sign of great immaturity to make judgements of yourself in the reflection of others adoration. That’s why so few City fans bite at the general bitterness on display. We’ve had donkey’s years of humiliation at our own hands to be overly concerned that suddenly Liverpool fans find us distasteful – liverpool fans!

2. Our fanbase is largely made up of people local to the city. There has always been a core of around 40,000 regular fans as long as I’ve been supporting them. Sometimes dipped to 30,000 (old div 3) and can swell to 50,000 + as has recently been the case. This stick that people use to try and beat us with, is actually the very thing we are probably most proud of. We aren’t a global club yet. It will change I know, but we aren’t in the needy rush some others are to value ourselves by the number of shirts we sell in the Far East. I sit in the east stand surrounded by people I’ve know for years. I see old school friends and we reminisce about the comical events of our shared history. One day it will probably change and a little like old Trafford and Anfield we will have different ‘audiences’ for European games as opposed to league games. We’ll start to see new faces and different nationalities and day trippers and tourists. That’s ok, it’s only a football match, it’s only entertainment. They are welcome. But please don’t imagine we City fans sit there in a crowd of 53,500 wishing above all else we could attract another 1500 tourists so we could technically fill our ground for every league game. If that’s the yardstick you choose to use to make yourself feel big then that’s fine, that’s your choice. Personally I’ll be enjoying the last game of the season with 10,000 fellow true blue ‘legacy’ Mancunians as one of the greatest teams to grace the premier league proudly lifts its latest trophies. Honestly, deep down, you know that don’t you.

One final question. When your team last won a trophy what did you do? Celebrate with your own fans? Share your feelings with the people you stood or sat alongside through the tough games? Yeah we did exactly the same. Loved it. At no point did I think or worry about whether the fans of opposing teams were either overwhelmed or underwhelmed at our victory. In fact your level of whelmness doesn’t matter to me one bit.

Also as much as I love F365, the volume of letters and comments to this site isn’t the benchmark for support that I grew up yearning for.

Hope this helps
Steve, Manchester (obviously)


Borderline robotic?
Following on from the mails about City and no one caring about their title win, I believe it’s because it’s borderline robotic.

When their takeover took place, people likened it to using the editor on Football Manager to max out their transfer budget, but in actual fact it was that, plus changing every executive, data analyst, training ground, physio department etc to their maximum level too. They’ve simply gone out and got the absolute best in every single department.

There is absolutely nothing of interest in that for non-fans.

One’s character is defined by one’s flaws; it’s what makes us interesting. In this pursuit of perfection, City may gather all the silverware under the sun, but it’ll be completely boring. Like a footballing Mary-Sue.

Whilst Chelsea would be the obvious parallel, at least Roman has a mad impulsive streak that sees him fire managers or splurge on strikers out of the blue. They may not be liked by others, just like United or Liverpool are generally disliked by fans of other clubs, but hatred isn’t boredom. It’s an emotion at least.

I’m not saying this to have a dig at their fans, it’s not their fault and I’m not denigrating the genuine emotion they must feel at their victories, but to the rest of the world, it’s completely soulless. That’s why their fan base hasn’t swelled as much as one would expect. The intangible is missing.
Lewis, Busby Way


Dear Football365,

The other reason, besides all the valid ones, that there is little fanfare around Manchester City’s latest trophy is that the line of greatness is not straight, it’s convex. The two highest points are the first title (or first for a significant amount of time), and having the most titles of all time. In between, the trophies you need to win in order to get from Point A to Point B seem more like stops along the path, rather than destinations in and of themselves, which is why they can feel less special than either the first or the most.
Ed Quoththeraven (the same feeling came about watching Chris Froome and Team Sky/Ineos)


Manchester CIty fans


Ensuring fixtures are fulfilled
Hi there,

I’m a Liverpool fan, who thinks that a lot of the whinging and moaning of Liverpool fans about the side they put out against Leicester is overblown and reflects badly on the fanbase. However, when Andy (MUFC) says, “The best way to ensure sporting integrity in a competition is to ensure fixtures are fulfilled. Its simple as that,” isn’t that an argument for penalties to be applied to a club who are unable to fulfil their fixture? How does one guarantee fixtures are fulfilled without a consequence for failing to fulfil them?

For the record, I don’t agree with Andy (MUFC) that the game should have been forfeited by the club who were unable to guarantee the security of the players and officials in the fixture, and awarded to the club whose employees and supporters bear no culpability for the postponement. I’m glad it’s being replayed.
Dara O’Reilly, London


Arsenal hysteria
Arsenal’s jammy win at Chelsea last night
didn’t feel like much in isolation, and after the disappointment of Europa League exit, but it does represent an interesting point in which to take stock.

For all this disaster hysteria surrounding Arsenal and Arteta (Simon Jordan and Jamie Redknapp being the latest pundits jumping in with lukewarm, insipid takes), we’re now one point off our total last season, with two games to go. Against a Crystal Palace team on the beach and Brighton, who are still losing games even when they play well.

Arsenal could end up 5 points better than last season, still in European spots (all it would need is two of Spurs/Everton/West Ham to lose a few more games than us) with the third best defence in the league this season. With a bumper crop of young players to boot.

For sure, some things are bad. We’re still below our lowest every goal scoring record in Prem history, there is some worrying decline from star players on big salaries. Arteta still clearly has kinks to work out of his management (and it’s possible they are defining flaws which he won’t).

But he’s now beaten every manager in the Top 6. Arsenal might actually have the proper spring clean out we needed last season, and with French football in an utter mess, we might be able to pick up a few players on the relative cheap that could vastly improve the team.

Areola/Maignan, Andersen, Soumare, Aour, B.Kamara, Kamavinga, David, Dembele might all be available in the £20m-30m range, and could all fill areas of Arsenal’s squad without breaking salary bank either. I back Arsenal as much as any other English side outside United, City, Chelsea and Liverpool to get any of them (even a CL placed Leicester).

So everyone calm down. Still stuff to be done, and I’m not saying there isn’t still grave concern for how our club is run, but people are borderline apocalyptic right now and it’s driving me nuts.
Tom, Walthamstow 


Sell Zouma to the highest bidder
Watching Zouma constantly play us into danger by taking the easy passing option back to the man who gave him the ball was surely one of the last nails in the coffin of his chelsea career. The difference between him and Rudiger or Christensen in that left centre back position is like night and day, Zouma just looks so uncomfortable and clumsy with the ball at his feet which is essential for the way Tuchel wants us to play.
Aaron CFC Ireland.


Back-pass law…
Has the back-pass law been abolished? Kepa can’t go with his hands for that.

Should have been a red card and a penalty an indirect free kick.
Silvio Dante


Unsportsmanlike behaviour
In response to Jack, our Aussie friend, the kicking the ball away after conceding a foul absolutely boils my piss for the same reason it does yours.  If I was a ref I’d be giving a yellow every time for that for unsportsmanlike behaviour.  I absolutely disagree that a yellow is too harsh.  The whole point of a free kick is to give an advantage to the team it was awarded to as a result of a transgression by the other team.  “Professional fouls” are a scenario where the team committing the foul actually ends up with an advantage, so I think that should be a yellow every time.  I’m sure you’d get comments about refs should be “letting the game flow”, but after a couple of matches of enforcing that, the games would flow a lot better!
Oli (AVFC)


Champions League final
The European Super League (ESL) is a “disgraceful, self-serving” plan and a “spit in the face of football lovers”, says Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin.

Why, then, does this champion of football lovers decide to move the Champions League final from Istanbul to Porto?

When two English teams make the final, in covid infected year, their decision is to bring in a third, unrelated country? So fans, who have had such a hard 14 months now have to pay for flights and accommodation to go to a game for their team, when it could be held down the road? While there are numerous logistical and safety reasons for hosting the game in one of the plethora of stadiums in the UK, the main reason should be to accommodate the fans.

But all that bullshit about caring about football lovers is exactly that; bullshit. UEFA only cares about UEFA, and they don’t give a fuck about the ESL or the fans, only their pockets.
Neill, Ireland


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