Southampton striker Charlie Austin’s impassioned rant following the game against Watford ahead of the November international break hasn’t fallen on deaf ears, as the Premier League confirmed yesterday that the English top-flight would introduce the Video Assistant Referee system ‘in principle’ for the season of 2019/20.
Having seen his goal against Watford wrongly ruled out as the officials seemed to believe it had taken a touch off Maya Yoshida who was in an offside position, his response in his post-game press conference went viral and was picked up by everybody in the media and his words just aiding yet another round of VAR discussions taking place in the game, as despite obvious issues in terms of the communication and understanding of the system, it does bring obvious benefits.
Match officials aren’t infallible and mistakes happen, and whilst VAR is not perfect by any means and nor will it answer every debate in the game, it will clear up some obvious errors of judgement, whether that be Austin’s goal in the future or Raheem Sterling tripping himself up and inadvertently winning himself a penalty on the back of it.
At the Shareholders meeting on Thursday, VAR was provisionally approved and a formal request for its introduction will now be submitted for a full vote at a future meeting.
The non-live testing programme currently in place will continue for the rest of the season as issues are ironed out, but it is a significant change as Premier League member clubs voted against its introduction last April.
Austin will also rightly face no sanction from the Football Association following his interview – they are capable of making sensible decisions it seems.