VAR is like adding a turd to a perfectly delicious eggs royale; vote it out with the Tories

John Nicholson
A VAR check in progress
Premier League clubs have voted to continue using VAR next season

This season’s table is very similar to last season. You might think the league where supposedly any team can beat any team has reached peak stasis. Thirty-eight games. Exact same outcome. Exactly what was wanted. Predictability. At odds with sport but in harmony with sovereign wealth fund investment.

But change could happen to the governance of games, if not the culture of economics.

For a few years we’ve been told VAR is ‘going nowhere’ with certainty. It seemed a permanent, stupid change, rejected by fans, club, managers and players, both current and ex. Not everyone but a big majority.

Given that fact, keeping something that the most important people in the game reject, saying ‘we know best’ when they clearly don’t and are proven wrong all the time, is a terrible, not-to-say-stupid look and appears to be nothing but an exercise in not losing face. The Premier League product is compromised both by innate predictability and refereeing that most people feel veers from the merely adequate to the mystifying. That should worry them.

It has been said that innate British conservatism is to blame for VAR’s failure. We don’t like change and after all, the most successful political party is actually called ‘Conservative’. So I can see the argument.

But I loathe VAR and the Tories down to my DNA as any decent person with a brain should, and would argue VAR is actually part of a certain Tory mindset, and that’s one of the reasons it’s been rejected as basically unfair, and worse yet prissy, interfering and somehow bullying in this context. Making something good much worse but pretending you haven’t. That’s a Tory principle. History proves it.

The FA failed to read the room and took all the moaning about supposed mistakes seriously. They should have known that complaining is axiomatic to football and it’s a wrinkle you cannot iron out, as has been well proven. Similarly advocates, many of whom were moaning managers, should have had more self-awareness and understood that much of the time their grievances were nothing of the sort and they were just laying blame for their team’s losses.

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It was a failure of imagination by all concerned not to know how it would work – if you’d read my pieces, I told you the obvious truth – and what the failures would be. You surely didn’t need a big giant brain to realise all you’d done was add an extra layer of human error to decisions. All the ‘it’s not VAR, it’s the people using it’ wailing is pointless and futile until we have a system not operated by people. Of course it’s the people, did you think robots were going to run it? And would it be better if they did?

I’m not going to go over the failures one more time. I’ve been going on about them for five years. You’ve heard them all before. The difference now is that everyone knows what they are and largely agrees. It’s what should be done that’s disputed. How to measure offside? How do we make the experience better? What is handball? That in itself is quite shocking, given all the pre-introduction promises which formed the basis of the pro-VAR camp. You were lied to.

This was football’s Brexit. You were warned. You were told what would happen and it was thoroughly explained why and you listened to stupid, malicious liars instead. Then all the things which you were warned about quickly came true and you complained that this wasn’t the VAR you approved of. You were wrong, we were right. This isn’t an opinion, it’s just counting.

VAR is a Tory bit of legislation in spirit; like all Tory legislation, it is based on delusion, immorality, ugliness and bigotry. If you think this isn’t true, these are the politicians who called Nelson Mandela a terrorist, who punished us with the indefensible bigotry of Section 28 (and are repeating the lies again over gender), who were the only government in the world to sell off the water industry for foreign companies to exploit for profit while they have poisoned all our rivers and hoovered up dividends for lying about doing a good job. The Tories saw nothing wrong with people making money out of the stuff of life. What we all owned was stolen by Tory thieves.

Time and again this is proven chronically stupid, but they seem to think wrapping the failure up in corporate speak is the same as success and that being thick is being clever, even as the dysfunction is unsustainable.

Likewise trains, electricity and gas were sold off in the name of choice, and have made all our lives worse. Sold off to global capital by the people who drum up hatred of foreigners. I find it mystifying that people fall for this utter stupidity. Sell off all our national assets to non-Brits while shouting about patriotism. Fund yourself with Russian money while stoking fear of foreigners. Employ a foreign secretary who parties without a security detail with a Russian oligarch, who several governments consider a spy but the grotesque amoral party goer put in the House of Lords against the advice of the security services. Morally depraved hypocrites and craven idiots to the last.

We actually have a chief secretary to the treasury who was claiming debt as a percentage of GDP is falling – something that contradicts official forecasts. It wasn’t obviously a lie (surprisingly), she just didn’t understand the subject she was supposed to know about. Well done. Likewise we have a foreign secretary who has multiple aliases used to enrich himself. Can you believe that?

They go on endlessly about being the party of low tax but put taxes up to the highest they’ve been for 70 years! No wonder the wide-eyed enumerate chancellor looks like he’s being violated with a chilled carrot. This thinking is how stupid they think the public is, and to be fair we’ve given them good reason to think we are. Millions will vote for them, regardless of all these failures, stupidities, hypocrisies and vacuities just as VAR gets support even as it makes football much worse.

These are people who think if you tell kids about being gay, it will make them gay (like that’s a bad thing), are routinely suspended for committing sexual assault and even kill themselves with an orange. The party of citrus-based family values. They claim to be in favour of small government but are up your arse telling everyone how to live all the time. It does England no credit (Scotland since the 50s has had to live under governments we’ve not elected) that they have repeatedly fallen for such appeals to selfishness and keep voting for being hit in the face while being told this time it will only be that minority you hate who doesn’t look like you who will get hit in the face.

This isn’t to say that other political parties have a monopoly on wisdom, but nothing works in this country; pharmacists can’t even fill important life-giving prescriptions after a decade of underinvestment. What sort of country are we becoming when we can’t even treat our sick people? The Tories are pathetic cowards for not owning the blame. Every day you see them telling outright lies. You can see it in their eyes. Endless public soilings.

Will 14 vote to bin VAR? I worry they won’t because they think it makes them look out-dated and old-fashioned and would rather just keep complaining about it. If any of the interested parties took notice of their own paying customers, who hate VAR and always have, it would be an easy decision.

Which business tells its customers that no, actually, you’re wrong, we’ll do what we want? Well football of course. It has a well-earned reputation for doing just that. The Scottish FA brought it in against everyone’s wishes. And it has been even more of a disaster with officials widely not trusted. And in a simple twist of fate, the Tory lapdog is a naked mole rat of a man who spends his time being leader of one of the most despised parties in all of Scotland, running the line. Yes, the Tory leader is a linesman. You couldn’t make it up.

But this is a one-off chance for clubs to vote against VAR and get rid. This isn’t conservatism, that fatally flawed creed that has done such damage, this just makes sense. VAR is like adding a turd to a perfectly delicious eggs royale just because you can. There’s just no need.

I watched Partick Thistle score an offside goal in a play-off. You know what happened? Nothing. We all just got on with the game. It wasn’t life or death. We knew either side might score such a goal. There was no bias. It was a fine line. Acceptance is much underrated and it has served football well since the 19th century and it will never be bettered as a way to deal with inevitable human error, no matter what lies anyone tells you. Football isn’t a computer game; you can’t get it right 100% of the time and trying will drive you crazy. We’ve seen that. You’ve proved it.

VAR and Tories out now! You know it makes sense.

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