VAR: like it or not it is here to stay – Part One

Whether you approve or not, have doubts about how it will change the flow and pace of Premier League matches, the Video Assistant Referee is here to stay – well at least until further notice.

As part of the EPL VAR educational programme, FT Board member Steve Moulds along with other FSA PL Network members, attended an information and demonstration session at IMG HQ, Stockley Park.

The session began with a presentation on how the EPL expect VAR to operate for the 2019/20 season. Based on IFAB (International Football Association Board) protocols, the aim is for VAR to have “minimum interference – maximum benefit”.

EPL advise this means they want on-field referees and assistants to control the game, have primacy over decisions and for VAR to have “minimum intervention”. They are well aware of the shortcomings highlighted by the use of VAR at the men’s World Cup tournament last year, and more recent controversies at the women’s World Cup. EPL claim they have been adapting protocols and training of on-field and VAR officials so that the pace and tempo of matches will not be effected. Of course, this remains to be seen in practice – the demonstrations were certainly convincing.

It is worth pointing out that EPL’s own data indicates that on-field refs currently get 82% of their decisions right with assistant’s decisions at 79%. Whilst they make no claim that VAR will make decision 100% accurate, they do believe that they can raise the level to 95%.

VAR Principles

On what basis can VAR be used? Alongside commitments to improve accuracy of decisions and keeping the pace of the game, there are a few key principles:

·         VAR can be used for ‘clear and obvious errors’ or ‘serious missed incidents’ in four match changing situations – goals, penalties, direct red cards, mistaken identity.

·         VAR will automatically check these situations – refs do not have to signal for VAR checks.

·         The final decision is always taken by the on-field referees.

·         Players must always play to the whistle.

·         VAR officials are part of the select group and are subject to the same disciplinary procedures as on-field referees.

In relation to the first bullet point, VAR can be used for:

·         Goals – offside, fouls, ball out of play.

·         Red cards – incidents for direct reds and not second yellow cards.

·         Penalties – awarded or not awarded; players inside or outside the penalty area; foul by attacking player; ball out of play.

·         Mistaken identity – red or yellow card issued to the wrong player.

The above principles and interventions mainly deal with ‘factual’ errors e.g. it is clear if the wrong player had been carded or if the ball is out of play. VAR can also assist with more subjective decisions such as disciplinary interventions:

·         Simulation – penalty awarded but review shows clear simulation; red card issued but review shows clear simulation.

·         Goal – attacker deliberately handles the ball into the net.

·         Violent conduct – review identifies missed red card; when read card is issued, the opponent can also be cautioned if the review identifies a yellow card offence.

·         Serious foul play – review identifies red card offence, a red card is issued; a red card is issued but on review downgraded to a yellow.

·         Denying obvious goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) – review identifies red card offence.

EPL realise that some of these decisions will remain controversial. Every yellow card decision will not be checked, that will remain with the on-field referee (unless VAR deems it to be a missed red card offence). VARs have been set what has been termed a “high bar” for subjective intervention, with the on-field referees decision taking primacy. For example, if a ref issues a red card, it will take a ‘clear and obvious error’ for that to be overturned.

Part two of the article will be published on Wednesday July 31st and explains the VAR Matchday operation

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Wet, Wet, Wet …..

Stoke City 1 v Leicester City 2

27th July 2019 – bet365 Stadium

 

Report by Colin Murrant

 

…. If Cambridge on Tuesday drew the headline ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ then the encounter at Stoke was in complete contrast in climatic terms. It had rained heavily for several hours before kick-off and, although the rain eased at times during the match, a cool wind meant the temperature was probably less than half what it was on that evening of relentless heat.

 

 

City had a double-header with a team playing at Rotherham kicking off at the same time. However, the side put out at Stoke was very close to what can be expected to be the line-up against Wolves in two weeks’ time. Perhaps only Ndidi will break into the stating XI, but even that would be grossly unfair to the developing Choudhury on his current form. It was good to see Evans line-up as he looked to have a serious problem after being substituted at Cambridge after 20 minutes, fortunately it turned out to be nothing more than a dead-leg: he has become a stalwart of City’s defence.

 

Once again City put in an excellent team performance, the high pressing, the tempo at which they play the game, the quick inter-passing are signs that Brendan Rodger’s stamp is now getting ingrained in the team’s ethos: amazing to think that, apart from Perez, these are the same players that Claude Puel had at his disposal.

 

City kicked off defending the goal in front of their supporters and were quickly into their game. After 6 minutes Maddison had a shot from the edge of the box following a Ricardo run and pass, Butland in the Potter’s goal got down well to beat the ball away and behind. From the resultant corner a header from Albrighton was tipped over by Butland for a third corner that resulted in a scramble in the goalmouth. Vardy then set up Perez who went for the bottom corner but the keeper made another good save.

 

Maddison was starting to run things in midfield, playing deeper he was at his best receiving the ball with his back to the opposition goal and beating the man, or winning a free kick, with his turns. This is his favoured position, why we bought him from Norwich; his turns are so obvious but unstoppable and give him the capability of switching play immediately as a result. There seemed to be plenty of movement in front of Maddison as Albrighton, Tielemans and Perez interchanged positions; Riccardo and Chilwell were prominent going forward too and were often ahead of the midfield.

 

 

Stoke chances were sporadic but midway through the half, and within four minutes, Schmeichel made two loose clearances that could have been converted by the home team. In the first instance Vokes hastily shot high over the bar, in the second a swift interception by Choudhury prevented Afobe slotting home from 12 yards with the goal wide open. At the other end, Perez put in Vardy but he shot weakly straight at Butland.

 

On the half hour a pass from Allen to Afobe resulted in a penalty as Evans was adjudged to have brought Afobe down. It looked as if Evans played the ball and the City fans chanted ‘We want VAR’ to underline the feeling a poor decision had been made. It mattered little as Schmeichel anticipated the direction of Vokes’ rather weak shot and pushed the ball away.

 

 

A Stoke attack saw McClean break clear but he seemed to panic as he homed in on the City goal and as Chilwell chased him down, from a weak shot from 20 yards Schmeichel made a comfortable save. On forty minutes Shawcross went over on his ankle and a lengthy period of treatment ensued before he was stretchered off looking in some distress.

 

Three minutes into the second half and Allen fed the ball to Afobe who seemed certain to score but Schmeichel saved well. Then good play from Maguire as he ventured forward and passed to Maddison who in turn put Vardy in on goal, he rounded Butland but was pushed too wide and, slightly off balance, the forward put the ball well wide.

 

On the hour City got the goal their play deserved, Tielemans’ slide rule pass put Ricardo in on the by-line, his deep cross found Albrighton in space at the far post and his vicious shot gave Butland no chance as it hit the roof of the net.

Ricardo was then brought down by McClean as he pushed the ball past the defender, ‘Penalty’ City fans screamed but ‘coming together’ was the referee’s decision.

 

 

On 70 minutes Stoke equalised against the run of play, former Leicester loanee Powell out on Stoke’s right-wing hit a cross which drifted over Schmeichel into the net, only Powell will know if he meant it.

 

Leshabela replaced Albrighton and was quickly up to the pace of the game as he showed some subtle ball control and skill: the use of Leshabela at Scunthorpe and Stoke suggests he might figure in the match day squad quite a lot this coming season. Perez was taken out by McClean 25 yards from goal, Maddison stepped up and his free kick was pushed round the post by Butland at full stretch.

 

Choudhury then had a shot blocked after some delightful interplay from City.  Perez had a first-time effort sail just wide from 10 yards following another good cross from Ricardo.

 

 

Five minutes from time and City re-took the lead, Perez fed the ball wide to Chilwell who crossed low to Tielemans who, without hesitation, stroked the ball firmly inside the near post.

 

 

There were some excellent performances with Ricardo, Tielemans, Choudhury, and the very impressive Maddison probably the pick. The reliance on Vardy for goals looks to be diminishing, one of the problems that has needed addressing for some-time. The camaraderie amongst the group of players is in evidence, also with the manager. In a stoppage period I saw Rodgers taking to Schmeichel with arm around the keeper’s waist, Schmeichel with arm on the manager’s shoulder: small things that tell you a lot about the chemistry of the group. One great sign is that everyone is playing with a smile on their faces. Even the gaffer joined in with a wry smile when the fans sang ‘Brendan Rodgers is a Blue, he hates Celtic’.

 

 

This was a sterner test with Stoke fielding several players with Premier League experience and there would have been several bookings if it had not been a friendly. It’s only pre-season, it’s only lower league opposition, but it’s difficult not to be impressed with the new City under Rodgers. It feels like something special is brewing, ‘I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes’.

 

Stoke City: Butland, Smith, McClean, Shawcross (Lindsay, 45), Batth, Cousins, Clucas, Allen, Powell, Afobe, Vokes Subs not used: Davies, Federici, Edwards, Ward, Martins Indi, Gregory, Verlinden, Campbell, Woods.

 

Leicester City: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Chilwell, Evans, Maguire, Choudhury, Tielemans, Maddison, Perez, Albrighton (Leshabela,78), Vardy. Subs not used: Johansson, Thomas, Benkovic, Diabate, Elder.

Referee: Stephen Martin              Attendance: 6,940, with 1,071 in the visiting end.

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

 

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Hot, hot, hot!

Cambridge 0 City 3

 

Report by Kate Thompson

 

 

As I live close to Cambridge, I was pleased that City were playing a friendly there.  I was somewhat surprised – as were the Cambridge supporters near me – at the strong team for the first half.  Several Cambridge fans told me that they were pleased so see so many of our senior players, but I kept telling them that Maguire is going nowhere – a case of hope over expectation perhaps!

 

 

Despite the heat, the players did not take the game lightly and continued their pressing game.  Practically all of the play was in the half they were attacking and it was only thanks to the Cambridge keeper that the score was goal-less at half-time.  It looked as if the players had been encouraged to shoot on sight more, but apart from a few efforts which were saved, there were too many with no power or no direction.  Considering the apparent gulf in class, Cambridge did well and I am sure their supporters gained confidence from their performance.

 

 

The first-half team contained nearly all first-teamers, the exceptions being Andy King and Papy Mendy; I thought Mendy played really well but there are rumours that he is going to St Etienne, which I think would be a shame, but I guess he wants to play more regularly.  The team sheet supplied by Cambridge gave Maguire as captain, but in the event it was Schmeichel, who of course is the vice captain of the club.

 

Jonny Evans was injured in the 20th minute and was replaced by Soyuncu, who gave us the only real scare in the game when he misjudged a ball.  Fortunately, Wes Morgan, demonstrating that he can still cut it, made a very good tackle to clear the danger.

 

 

Three substitutes came on at the beginning of the second half:  Maddison, Barnes and Choudhury, fresh from their less than successful under-21s tournament, for Gray, King and Mendy. 

 

Then, as Rodgers had hinted, there were a raft of other changes in the 62nd minute:  Justin, Morgan, Fuchs, Silva, Ghezzal and Iheanacho for Pereira, Maguire, Chilwell, Tielemans, Albrighton and Vardy. 

 

Just before these later changes, City had finally broken the deadlock, when Maguire powered a thunderous header which the excellent keeper could not keep out. 

 

The score remained at 1-0 until the 83rd minute when Iheanacho, having gone close just before, finally scored his first goal since last September.  He was clearly mightily relieved, as were all the City fans who had been willing him to break his duck and boost his confidence. 

 

 

Choudhury added a third in the 87th minute to make the scoreline very healthy.

 

So what did we learn from this game?  First, and to my great delight, that we clearly go into every game wanting to win.  FA Cup anyone?! 

 

Secondly, despite the heat, the players showed a lot of effort. 

 

Thirdly, some of the slick passing was a joy to watch, albeit against lower opposition.

 

 

As for how the players performed, it is difficult to judge.  The defence had very little to do and the midfield and forwards made some good moves, which went rewardless until the second half.  And I hope this is not the last time I see Maguire in a Leicester shirt!

 

The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation

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Going to Rotherham ?

Rotherham United

Saturday July 27th 3pm

Directions by road  66 miles approx. 1hr 20 min – S60 1AH

By Car:

Directions from the South 

-M1 Junction 33, take 3rd exit signed A630 Rotherham 

-1st Roundabout (Junction with A631) at roundabout take 1st exit 

-2nd Roundabout – A630 (Canklow Roundabout) take 2nd exit 

-3rd Roundabout – A630 (Ickles Roundabout) take 2nd exit 

-After the first set of traffic lights move into the right hand filter lane and you will then come back on yourself and take the first left onto Main Street.

-Turn right onto Don Street after the council offices, and follow the signs for 'Town Centre Parking' 

Directions from the North 

-M1 Junction 35 leave motorway, take 1st exit signed A629 (Upper Wortley Road) 

-1st Roundabout – take 2nd exit (A629) 

-2nd Roundabout – take 2nd exit (A629) 

-3rd Roundabout (College Rd / B&Q Roundabout) take the 4th exit 

-After the first set of traffic lights take the first exit onto Main Street

-Turn right onto Don Street after the council offices, and follow the signs for 'Town Centre Parking' 

PARKING: 

 Forge Island car park is situated across from the stadium and is free The post code is: S60 1EJ.

 

Directions by rail

Train takes 1hour 22 mins, offpeak return £29-30 The station is approx. 10 minutes walk from the ground.

Pubs

There are a number of pubs in the town centre

 

All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors. Thanks to the Rotherham United FC and Football Ground Guide

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Going to Stoke ?

Stoke City Football Club, Bet 365 Stadium, Stanley Matthews Way, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 4EG

Saturday July 27th 3pm

Directions by road 

North/South/West

Leave the M6 at Junction 15 and take the second exit (straight on) at the first roundabout onto the A500. Exit the A500 at the second slip road and then keep to the right for the A50. At the roundabout take the second exit (right) to join the A50 (the Britannia Stadium is signposted and visible on the sky-line to the right).

Once on the A50 take the first exit and head up the bank towards the traffic lights. Turn right at the traffic lights and head over the fly-over. Take the third exit (right) at the first roundabout, the first exit (left) at the second roundabout and the third exit (right) at the third roundabout to reach the stadium.

East

Take the A50 to Stoke-on-Trent. Exit at the last slip road on the A50 with the stadium on the left. Take the third exit (straight on) at the first roundabout and third exit (right) at the second to reach the stadium.

 

Parking

On matchdays, access to the Britannia Stadium is strictly limited to vehicles with parking permits for car parks NORTH, WEST 1 and WEST 2.

Supporters who are allowed access from the A50 should follow signs which indicate coach and disabled parking.

Car parks will open from 11.00am for an afternoon match and from 4.00pm for a night match. Access to the car parks is available from the A50 and the junction for Stanley Matthews Way on Trentham Road (A5035).

Car parks next to the stadium cost £10, if you are prep[ared to walk for 10 minutes it cost £5-6

There may also be 300 parking spaces available (weekend matches only) at the Screwfix direct site on Stanley Matthews Way. The site is based one mile from the ground and allows quicker access back onto the A50 after the game has ended. If arriving from the M6, follow signs to the Bet365 Stadium on the A50.  Continue past the stadium for approx 1 mile and the Screwfix site is on the left. The post code for SatNav's is ST4 8GR.

There is also car parking south of the stadium on Stanley Matthews Way between Screwfix and the Stadium opposite Pets at Home (Sat Nav ST4 8GR ). You can get to this car park via Stanley Mathews Way from the A50 or Trentham Road. After the match all traffic goes south which means you avoid all the congestion by the stadium

Directions by rail

Stoke-on-Trent station is situated on the West Coast Mainline and provides easy access from Manchester, Birmingham, London, Derby and Crewe.

Supporters arriving by train on a matchday can take a two-minute walk to Glebe Street in Stoke town centre where buses run to the stadium at regular intervals. Turn right out of the station and take the next right to go under a bridge. Follow the road to the end and turn left, down a bank and into Glebe Street. Buses depart on the left hand side by the St Peter's Church. 

Trains take approx 1hr 45mins

Super off peak return £37.75
 

BY BUS

There are a number of bus services that run through Trentham Lakes and past the Britannia Stadium all week long.

On a matchday, there is an increased level of buses which travel to and from the stadium.

PUBS

Next to the stadium are a Holiday Inn and a Harvester Pub/Restaurant that do allow in away fans. You can also park at the Harvester itself for a cost. A bit further away on Dennis Viollett Road (off Sir Stanley Matthews Way) is a Power League complex that also has a bar, which also allows in away supporters, shows SKY television and you can even park in their car park for a fee. Further down Sir Stanley Matthews Way (and turning left along Eastern Rise) is the Longton Rugby Club, which has two bars also showing SKY Sports. Parking is also available for a fee. It is around a 20 minute walk to the away turnstiles from the Club.

If arriving by train then the Terrace Bar on Leek Road has been designated as an official away fans pub. The pub which is only five minutes walk from the railway station (turn right out of the station entrance, left at the crossroads and the pub is down on the left) also shows Sky Sports and offers food too. The shuttle bus to the ground (return cost £3 adults) that runs from near the station, also stops at the pub and returns after the game.

All information is provided in good faith but the Foxes Trust cannot be held responsible for any errors. Thanks to the Football Ground Guide, and Stoke FC

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