OPINION: He's behind you and will spoil the fun for everyone
It’s the panto season again and there is a new villain for the crowd to hiss and boo – he’s called the Video Assistant Referee – and he’s behind you every time you want to celebrate a goal.
Beware as you jump up to cheer and applaud a goal because the VAR is out to get you just when it appears all is well. And you can’t throw anything at him like the kids in the audience can at the country’s favourite pantos – you just have to sit and wait for your fate and for that of your favourite characters.
Gone are the days when the young and old alike can go to a football game, watch their favourite team score a goal and celebrate without a care in the world. For they now know that the wicked witch called VAR could make that goal disappear in a flash, much to their horror.
So it’s wise to keep celebrations low key, wait and watch the big screen in the ground – if there is one – to see whether your team will fall victim to the feared VAR decision. If there is no screen then the public address system will deliver the dreaded news that another goal has been chalked off.
‘It’s not football anymore’ chant the fans and they’re right, it’s not, at least in the Premier League.
I predicted this two years ago when VAR was first being suggested, it was meant to solve any arguments but it has only increased them. The only difference is that instead of discussing the referee’s decision the conversation is all about the imaginary lines on a screen or if the initial decision was an obvious error or not.
Unfortunately, when a goal is scored this season, it’s greeted with muted applause followed by either relief if the goal stands or an even louder cheer from the opposing team’s fans if the goal is ruled out. It seems bizarre that a disallowed goal now receives a bigger ovation than one that stands.
But that is the scenario VAR has created, the genie is out of the bottle and the script writers seem unwilling to try and get him back in it. You can hiss and boo all you like but it’s too late, the VAR will get you!