EPL referees have decided to review the goalline tech error that denied Sheffield a goal against Aston Villa. The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said the video assistant referee didn’t play his part because of the “unique circumstances”.
PGMOL is now considering the possibility of a similar incident in the future and will discuss how it can be avoided. Mark Clattenburg, a top-flight referee said the controversy had exposed a “fundamental flaw” in the use of technology.
The incident was observed int eh 42nd min of Wednesday’s goalless draw tie which marked the first EPL game in the 100 days since the League was suspended in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak in March. Sheffield United by winning the match would have moved above MUTD to take the 5th place if the score had been counted legal when Orjan Nyland carried Norwood’s free-kick on the line but referee Michael Oliver did not get the signal to give the goal. Hawk-Eye apologized after the controversial happening but maintained that the system “remained functional throughout”.
The operator of the goalline technology said the incident was first of its kind in over 9,000 games that used the tech. Clattenburg talking to BBC Sport said it shows the vulnerability of the scientific system that “can fail at any time”.
Clattenburg who is now retired, supervised almost 300 EPL fixtures from 2004 to 2017 also attributed the failure to the video assistant referee system.
“I automatically expected the video assistant referee to come in,” he said.
“He’s probably thought: ‘We have the technology in place. Why do we need to make a decision?’ and that is the fundamental flaw. Technology is there to help, it is not there to make the final decision.
“The VAR has let the referee Michael Oliver down. If he had checked the goal, we would not be talking about it now. Referees can make mistakes; the VAR can’t, because he has all the evidence there.
“I have had situations in the Premier League, where the watch would go off and give a goal when the ball did not enter the goal. This can happen sometimes, where it just malfunctions and people would not notice that.
“Overall, I think it [VAR] has been letting referees down in the Premier League. The Premier League spend a lot of money on technology but if it is not used correctly, people lose confidence in it and they get frustrated. That’s one of the biggest problems at the moment.
“Sheffield United could miss out on a European place because of two points they lost because of technology.
“It’s not like a [normal] refereeing decision. You can say they balance out over a season – but not when you’re talking about something that was so clearly wrong.”