Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett says the Premier League made a huge mistake by not introducing VAR this season, and England’s top officials are now suffering as a result.

1991: Tony Gale #4 of West Ham is sent off after being shown the red card by referee Keith Hackett during the FA Cup Semi-Final against Nottingham Forest at Villa Park in Birmingham, England. Nottingham Forest won the match 4-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport
1991: Tony Gale #4 of West Ham is sent off after being shown the red card by referee Keith Hackett during the FA Cup Semi-Final against Nottingham Forest at Villa Park in Birmingham, England. Nottingham Forest won the match 4-0. Credit: Shaun Botterill/Allsport

Despite every other major league in football introducing VAR in the last few years, the Premier League has delayed and delayed, only recently making the decision to bring it in next year. Hackett argues this has had a negative effect on the country’s referees, who have been overlooked for the most recent Champions League last-16 matches.

Hackett’s right to highlight that the last-16 decision almost certainly had a lot to do with the lack of VAR. For a start, given VAR is in use in the Champions League, UEFA are going to want officials who are experienced in using it. The most experience any English referee has is a cup game here or there.

Additionally, the pressure in England to get decisions right is still firmly on the referee’s shoulders. The officials have no help from a video assistant or access to replays, so they continue to make major mistakes like the offside decision in the North London derby at the weekend, or the penalty encroachment, or the red card incidents.

Those sorts of errors in high-profile matches would be quickly fixed and forgotten about with VAR, but instead, there are still people talking about the mistake days later. That doesn’t give off the best impression of English refereeing to the international community watching on.

The Premier League messed up by being slow to adapt, and individual officials, as well as the reputation of English officiating as a whole, will suffer for it.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.