Ex-referee chief Hackett reveals radical VAR plan to change flawed system

Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett believes VAR ‘specialists’ should operate the technology from Stockley Park, not current match officials.

The ex-head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited insisted video assistant referees were being used too much. That followed another weekend where contentious decisions were aplenty in the top flight.

An 83rd penalty in this season’s Premier League was awarded on Sunday. That is the same number for the whole of the 2014-15 campaign, with technology required during many games across the weekend.

Hackett is unhappy with the way the system is currently being used. And he feels the authorities need to act to ensure the system runs more smoothly.

“VAR is only supposed to get involved when it is a clear and obvious error,” Hackett told the PA news agency. “At the moment VAR is trying to get involved in everything. I think there needs to be a rethink of how VAR operates.

“I don’t think it is great you are a referee one day and that same referee who had a good game or whatever game he had, then has to drive to Stockley Park to act as a VAR operator.”

Michael Oliver took charge of Crystal Palace’s home game with Burnley on Saturday. Two days later he was at Stockley Park to operate VAR for West Ham versus Sheffield United.

Martin Atkinson was asked to operate VAR in two fixtures this weekend instead of being out in the middle. Hackett feels “specialists” being required for VAR would improve the way the technology is implemented in this country.

“If you are Michael Oliver or Anthony Taylor, you want them refereeing. You don’t want them doing VAR or the fourth official role,” he added.

“A referee is a specialist, an assistant referee is a specialist and they train. We have them running with flags, off the field of play, away from the game, practising and understanding the laws of the game and everything that goes with it.

“Each one is a different specialist role and this is how if I think we are to move forward, we need to operate VAR in the same way.”

Ex-referees the way forward?

There is no question that VAR is causing concern throughout the Premier League. It was thought that it would bring clarity to the game and aid referees.

But, while many correct decisions are made, Hackett has his own plan to improve the service.

“The panel of VAR specialists, as I would call them, could be made up of former referees and that is their sole job,” he continued. “If you have people like Mike Dean and Andre Marriner, people who are on the horizon of retiring, train them up to be VAR specialists.

“The answer has to be this specialist panel who are trained, better trained than the current people, and understand the technology and they can train and analyse the film clips in front of them more quickly.”


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