An offside check lasting more than five minutes, a potential penalty that allegedly wasn’t checked and another that was given described as “scandalous”. Premier League officials are back under the spotlight after another day of controversy.
Burnley manager Vincent Kompany says the officials cost his team points again after defeat at Bournemouth while Wolves boss Gary O’Neil heavily criticised the penalty award against his side in their thrilling draw with Newcastle.
Green lines appeared on the screen as VAR checked an offside call against Burnley forward Jay Rodriguez’s potential late equaliser, suggesting the decision would be overturned and a goal awarded. However, the check, which lasted nearly six minutes in total, continued and lines were re-drawn showing Rodriguez to be offside.
After this controversy, Burnley also felt they should have had a penalty for a handball by Chris Mepham deep in stoppage-time. The incident was not even checked by the VAR, officials told Kompany.
Later on at Molineux, Newcastle were awarded a penalty after defender Fabian Schar got ahead of Wolves’ Hwang-Hee Chan as he cleared, appearing to be tripped by the swing of the forward’s boot. Replays showed contact to be extremely minimal but VAR did not ask referee Anthony Taylor to go to his screen.
Here Sky Sports takes a closer look at the three incidents…
VAR confusion for Burnley’s disallowed equaliser
The check began after Rodriguez was flagged for offside after scoring what would have been an equaliser for Burnley in the 89th minute at relegation rivals Bournemouth, who moved out of the bottom three with their first victory of the season.
The VAR checked to see if the on-field decision of offside was correct.
Initial replays without lines appeared to show that Rodriguez was offside although it was extremely tight. After being shown a series of images a green line then appeared on the screen suggesting he was onside following the check by the officials in the VAR room.
“Onside!” Clinton Morrison said on Soccer Saturday. “I’ve seen the green line. But hold on [VAR David Coote] is still doing it. He is checking it.”
This green line was drawn to show that Rodriguez’s knee was level with the knee of Bournemouth defender Lloyd Kelly. However, it is quite quickly apparent that the line was drawn incorrectly with Rodriguez’s head the part of his body that was furthest forward.
The wait for a final decision continued though, adding to the confusion in what was a vital moment in the season of both teams. It appeared that there had been some miscommunication between the officials in the VAR room, with echoes of the error that wrongly disallowed Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool at Spurs earlier in the season.
A split screen appeared during this wait showing Coote deliberating with his colleagues at Stockley Park.
“It looks like they are having an argument,” Morrison added. “It looks like they are rowing in the VAR room.”
While this went on supporters of both teams chanted “This is embarrassing”.
Finally, two minutes and 23 seconds after the green line appeared on the screen, a red line was drawn. The officials stuck with this decision and upheld the offside. The entire process took five minutes and 27 seconds.
This, just like the error in the game between Liverpool and Spurs, will increase calls for semi-automated offsides.
Unlike in the scenario at Spurs the officials did double-check their work and came to the correct decision. But the length of the delay, that appeared to be caused by a simple error, had big implications for Burnley with their momentum heavily impacted in a huge match at the bottom of the table.
Former Premier League referee Mike Dean said on Soccer Saturday: “As long as it is the right decision, I do not care if it takes 10 minutes as we rushed a decision at Tottenham recently and that was a catastrophe, but it is embarrassing,
“The first still we saw with the green light, it looked like they had the line drawn in the wrong place.”
Should Burnley have had a penalty?
Deep in stoppage-time at Vitality Stadium – after the long VAR check – the ball struck Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham’s arm in his own box when he was challenging for the ball with Burnley substitute Sander Berge.
Burnley manager Kompany was confused as to why this incident was not checked by VAR.
“For the first time as a manager, I went to ask for an explanation and the officials were very open with me,” he told Sky Sports. “Nobody in VAR has told them there’s something to review – and the handball was as blatant as ever.
“The hand from the Bournemouth player near Berge brings the ball down. Why’s it not reviewed? I’m fairly confident this decision would have taken the VAR 15 seconds.”
Is O’Neil right to be angry over Newcastle penalty?
Newcastle were awarded a penalty at the end of the first half against Wolves with the score level at 1-1 after Schar beat Hwang to the ball when he was attempting a clearance.
Referee Anthony Taylor’s decision to give a spot-kick was checked by the VAR and replays showed contact was minimal.
Instead of sending Taylor to the screen to have another look at the decision the penalty was upheld.
O’Neil, the Wolves boss, was furious with the officials. “It was a scandalous decision,” he said. “Terrible, I thought. Terrible on-field decision and terrible that VAR did not intervene so, yeah, I thought they got it badly wrong.
“He goes to clear the ball and makes such minimal contact with Schar. I mean, hardly any. A glance of the boot. Schar is already on the way down. And the ball actually hits Channy’s other foot before he even makes contact with Schar so technically he gets the ball before he touches Schar. So, that is why it was a terrible decision.”
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe added: “I think our one is a contentious one. Fabian has just got to the ball first. With a long delay you know it is a tight call. It went our way.”