Gary Neville on VAR: The full Q&A
Sky Sports pundit talks pitch side monitors, the problem with time limits and the 'bizarre' criticism off minimal offsides
Last Updated: 04/02/20 12:01am
Gary Neville spoke on a range of VAR topics after YouGov's survey revealed only one in 25 football fans think VAR has 'worked very well' in the Premier League.
The results, part of a YouGov survey with 1,419 adults across Great Britain who watch matches regularly, revealed just four per cent of fans believe VAR has worked 'very well' and one in four thinks the technology has 'worked well'.
Read the full Q&A with Neville below
Should there be a time limit on decisions?
Neville: "If you introduce one-minute limits, for a VAR referee in Stockley Park or a referee going over to the pitch side screen, let's say at one end of the pitch there are 15 cameras, they can't look through each angle. You don't want to miss an angle because of a time limit.
"For me, a bit of patience to get the right decision is more important than putting a time limit on it. I don't see the point in accuracy being compromised by a time limit. We're in broadcasting, and we get those first three angles and think something is a penalty, and then we might see the fourth angle and think: 'Oh, I'm not sure.' And then we'll see the fifth angle and think: 'That's not actually a penalty!' So a time limit is something I wouldn't support."
Overall, has VAR been successful?
Neville: "VAR has been a success in respect to the accuracy of decisions, particularly with offside and penalties. My feeling, however, is that they need to think more about the fan experience in the ground. I've watched Champions League games this season where the manager has walked over to the pitch side screen, the fans know what's going on and they're not left in the dark.
"For me, if the referee is going over to check the decision, fans will feel like they're being brought on the journey and process. Hearing what referee and Stockley Park officials are saying in the stadium is also bringing the fan into the experience. At the moment it is too attached.
"I can see why they did it, but I had a problem with it when I first visited Stockley Park back in the summer, and I felt they would have to change towards the European model of referees going over to the monitor. It's far better."
So your problem isn't with the decisions, it's how they're transmitted?
Neville: "It's more about the fan experience. Accuracy is up, and VAR is a positive, but the use of it needs to change."
What about minimal offside?
Neville: "I might be living in a parallel universe where, for the last five years, I've heard managers complain that when an opposition player is slightly offside, and it hasn't been given as offside. Now it's going against them for inches the other way, and it's being proven by technology, and there is all of a sudden a furore over it. I don't get it at all.
"I don't understand the issue with offside. There has to be a point from which an offside is measured, every single time. The line comes down, and you're either on or off. People ask: 'How can you be so accurate?' When the same methodology and principle is being used each time, you have consistency.
"All referees have been asked to do is give consistency. We've got the most consistent application of offside that we've ever had before, and people are complaining. I see experts, pundits, fans shouting about it. I don't get it. I find it bizarre."
Should we stop using VAR?
Neville: "World Cups and Premier League titles have been won and lost on incorrect offside decisions. People have been crying out for this technology for years - it's in tennis, cricket, rugby, other sports - we wanted it in football, now it's here and there are bound to be teething problems and bumps in the road.
"Don't just pull out on it; we've made the right decision. I agree the fan experience needs to be better; open up communication, see the referee go over to the monitor."
Is VAR ruining football?
Neville: "It's not. What's happening is that VAR is experiencing some turbulence. When I went to Stockley Park earlier in the year, I had some concerns that we thought we could do it better than countries and tournaments that have been doing it for years.
"It's been experimented, used and tested, and we thought we could do it better by not allowing the referee to go over to the monitor, because he's 'emotional'. We want emotion, we want the referee in the stadium to make the final decision.
"[They] want the Stockley Park officials removed from what would be the 'smell of the fixture', and I understand that, and for offside that is fine, but not for decisions that relate to a red card, or big penalty decisions, it should be made by the on-field referee."
Sixty per cent say VAR has worked badly... are you surprised?
Neville: "It doesn't surprise me, but I think it relates to the fan experience. No fan, player or coach wants inaccurate decisions, but ultimately they want it to flow better, so they can still maintain that fast-paced nature and enthusiasm for the game that the Premier League is known for around the world."
Only eight per cent want it used how it is used now...
Neville: "It has to change. One of the big things I had a problem with early in the season with VAR was that the bar was set too high against overturning decisions.
"I think it will take time. It's education of the fans, a bit like when the back-pass rule came in. When that came it felt foreign, it was like 'wow!' And this is the biggest change in football in terms of rules for a long time, and it's going to take education for it to be introduced. I think eventually we'll get it right, and it's not time to back out of it.
"Technology is being used in all walks of life, but ultimately we need to make sure we don't ruin the game with it. But fill the silence! Fill it with the audio or visual of the incident."