PGMOL, the referees’ body, has effectively admitted the respective VAR decisions to disallow goals at Chelsea and Newcastle on Saturday were wrong and promised to “fully co-operate” with a Premier League review of the incidents.
The Professional Game Match Officials’ Board took the rare step of “acknowledging” the specific controversies in a statement on Sunday, and accepted the Premier League’s request for an additional investigation.
VAR decisions in all affected matches are already reviewed by a five-strong independent panel comprising representatives of the Premier League and the PGMOL as well as three former players, with their findings sent to the clubs concerned. So it is significant that PGMOL has taken the extra step after Saturday’s action, with West Ham denied a late equaliser against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, while Newcastle drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace after a Tyrick Mitchell own goal was ruled out at St James’ Park.
“PGMOL acknowledge the incidents to disallow the goals in the Chelsea v West Ham and Newcastle v Crystal Palace fixtures,” read a statement. “We will fully co-operate and collaborate with the Premier League and their request to review these two particular incidents, using the outcome as part of the ongoing assessment of weekly performances and the development of our match officials going forward.”
Both decisions were heavily criticised, with David Moyes, the West Ham manager, branding VAR official Jarred Gillett unfit for duty after confronting referee Andy Madley. Maxwel Cornet’s strike was cancelled out after a VAR review, with Jarrod Bowen deemed to have fouled Edouard Mendy as he attempted to reach a ball which was spilled by the goalkeeper.
“I’m amazed that VAR sent the referee for him to see it,” said a furious Moyes. “But I thought even if he goes to the TV there’s no way he’s overturning this, because this is a goal. It was a ridiculously bad decision.
“I’d question VAR today as much as the referee. But the referee should have stuck to his own guns. The sad thing is this is the level of the weak refereeing at the moment.
“Look, ultimately, I make loads of mistakes, referees can make loads of mistakes. But I would hope if the referee made a mistake, that’s why it’s corrected by VAR. But if you’re saying today that the referee’s mistake was corrected by VAR, I’m saying I do not see that in a million years. And I’m actually more embarrassed for the guy who did the VAR than I am even for the referee.”
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe was more measured in his reaction to seeing Mitchell’s own goal overturned. Referee Michael Salisbury ruled it out for a foul by Joe Willock on goalkeeper Vicente Guaita. “I didn’t think it should have been disallowed, personally, I thought it was a foul or a push on Joe Willock in the build-up to the ball coming in,” said Howe.
“Joe’s momentum is fixed at that point from his opponent, it then carries him into the goalkeeper. But without that push, there’s no way that Joe would have gone in with that force, so for me it’s not a foul. If anything, it’s a penalty if it’s not a goal, so I was very surprised with the outcome.”