VAR being used too much in EPL: ex-referee

·2-min read

A former English Premier League referee believes VAR is being used too much and that specialists should operate the technology, not current match officials.

Keith Hackett's comments come after another weekend where contentious decisions were aplenty in the league.

An 83rd penalty in this season's Premier League was awarded on Sunday, the same amount for the whole of the 2014-15 campaign, with technology used during the majority of the weekend's games.

"VAR is only supposed to get involved when it is a clear and obvious error," Hackett said.

"At the moment VAR is trying to get involved in everything. I think there needs to be a rethink of how VAR operates."

Hackett thinks it's not ideal that referees can officiate live matches one day and the next be required to act as a VAR operator at Heathrow hub Stockley Park.

Referee Michael Oliver took charge of Crystal Palace's home game with Burnley on Saturday and two days later was at Stockley Park to operate VAR for West Ham versus Sheffield United.

Meanwhile, Martin Atkinson was asked to operate VAR in two fixtures this weekend instead of being out in the middle.

Hackett feels "specialists" being required for VAR would improve the way the technology is implemented in this country.

"If you are Michael Oliver or Anthony Taylor, you want them refereeing. You don't want them doing VAR or the fourth official role," he added.

"A referee is a specialist, an assistant referee is a specialist and they train.

"Each one is a different specialist role and this is how if I think we are to move forward, we need to operate VAR in the same way."

With more penalty kicks set to be awarded in this season's Premier League than during the last decade, Hackett questioned if some had taken their eye off the ball.

"I think referees are becoming lazy," Hackett said.

"There is an analogy ... if you have no safety net, you're as sharp as a pin and really focused on the game.

"But when you have a safety net like TMO (television match official) or VAR, then you become lazy. I think that is what is happening."