"Referees Are Bottling It And Using VAR As A Safety Net," Says Mark Clattenburg
Former Premier League official Mark Clattenburg says referees are 'bottling' it and using VAR as a "safety net" in a scathing assessment of the current state of officiating in England.
Controversial refereeing decisions at West Brom and Chelsea marred last weekend's round of league fixtures.
Once again, VAR was at the heart of the controversy with Clattenburg claiming the presence of it is affecting referee's on-field decision making.
He wrote in his Daily Mail column: "Of course it is. It's a safety net for referees who, for years, have been on their own on that football pitch.
"If I made a mistake in the past, I'd be the only one to blame. Now, if a Premier League referee makes a mistake and VAR fails to correct it, it's the system which is criticised primarily.
"VAR is protecting the referees in that sense and the fact that it is always there is in the back of their minds, too. If a challenge is made in the penalty area which a referee isn't 100 per cent sure about, he can leave it to his pal at Stockley Park to study while the game continues.
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"If there was something there, he can be told to visit his monitor, look at the alternative angles and award the penalty via the pitch-side review.
"This system was always going to have an impact on referees and the way they make decisions on the pitch. It's impossible to forget it's there, especially given your VAR is in your ear from the first minute to the last."
Clattenburg also touched on the standard of officiating and questioned where the next crop of referees are coming from.
"The standard has dropped over the years, without a doubt," he continued. "The current group of referees are getting older and I'm wondering whether there is a proper succession plan. Where is the next generation?
"Regarding this season, there is more scrutiny on referees than ever before. Every Premier League game is being televised so every single decision is studied and debated to death. This means we are noticing mistakes now more than ever.
"Then there is the added expectation that mistakes shouldn't be happening because of VAR. But some decisions are still down to interpretation, and the PGMOL have shown they like to interpret the laws differently to other countries.
"Remember all those silly handballs at the start of this season? The PGMOL eventually caved under pressure and changed their interpretation."
Featured Image Credit: PA/PA
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