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Reading manager Paul Ince makes plea to the EFL after recent refereeing decisions

Reading manager Paul Ince makes a plea to the EFL after recent dodgy refereeing decisions which have cruelly gone against many clubs.

He believes that VAR needs to be introduced into the Championship, something that a number of other managers have urged to see along with goal line technology.

Since being introduced to the Premier League in 2019, video assistant referee technology has caused quite the controversy and debate and these days, not a lot of people are convinced by it.

“Definitely (I would like VAR), why have we not got it?” said Ince this week.

“I know it’s expensive but why isn’t that money being filtered down to the Championship.

“We’ve got stadiums in the Championship that can do it, they’re top, top stadiums. I’ve asked this question. Managers can lose their job over it.

“If the linesman makes a bad decision and we lose the game it puts the pressure on the manager. The Championship is the most gruelling league in the world and people will make mistakes but in today’s day and age we should have VAR.

“For general things, goal line technology, red cards, offsides, that’s all we’re asking. For the ones that affect the results. That’s why we need VAR.

“Every year we like to think VAR should get better, but it will always be an issue for debate.”

Ince also discussed whether he believes that referees should be put up for interviews to explain decision after matches.

He said: “If I lose a game I come out and make myself accountable. Referees make mistakes and they don’t. We don’t get a response. If they make a mistake and say that, perfect, that’s all we want. We all make mistakes.

“I would like them to come out and be accountable because at least then we all know.”

Interestingly, going back to 2019 appearing on Final Score, he spoke a fair bit on VAR: “I’m not going to talk about VAR. I’ve had enough of VAR. I wake up to think about VAR. I can understand why Pellegrini is disappointed, you know, you want decisions to be right, and the most important thing about this is that this stage of the season, things are so important for these teams, whether it’s Europa league champions, league relegation, you know, financially, it’s so important to these teams. So you have to get the decisions right. And that one was so, so wrong, you know, it really was.”

And has it really got better since? Does anyone really know what’s offside anymore? There is still plenty of talk about just how reliable it is despite having a bit of work done since Ince’s 2019 comments.

Tony Mowbray made it clear he is no fan of VAR being introduced into the Championship – even though it might have changed Sunderland’s defeat at Blackburn Rovers earlier this season.

The Black Cats came away from Ewood Park aggrieved after they were denied a clear-cut penalty in the first half when Jack Clarke was tripped by Ryan Hedges, and just 22 seconds later Rovers went ahead.

Blackburn added a second goal just after half time which replays showed should have been disallowed for offside. VAR, had it been in operation, would likely have reversed both of referee Craig Pawson’s decisions but the technology is not in use in the Championship, although the EFL is considering introducing a version of the system next season.

Asked whether he thought bringing VAR to the Championship was a good idea, Mowbray said: “I’m not sure I want to tag my name to it because next year I’ll be sitting here and I’ll be being asked about a marginal VAR decision which cost us a goal!

“I think for offsides – if someone is offside, they are offside. It [VAR] is going to work for you sometimes, and sometimes it’s going to work against you – just as referee’s decisions sometimes go for you, and sometimes go against you.

“I don’t think you ever question the integrity of a referee, but can you question the quality of their decision-making? Probably yes.

“If it’s the same referee making howlers every week … but you don’t get the same referee every week, you probably only get the same referee two or three times a season. I do feel the general standard has been pretty poor, but how you raise that standard I’m not sure.

“Whether VAR raises it… Sometimes it can be a cop-out, referees don’t make a decision when something happens or a goal goes in because they know the VAR guy is watching and he’s refereeing the game, really.

“If I was a supporter, I probably wouldn’t want VAR because I’d rather react to the emotion of a goal or a penalty, rather than wait four or five minutes to know whether you can celebrate. Really, you just want officials to get decisions right, don’t you?

“Does VAR get them right? We’ve seen many instances [in the Premier League] where you can look at the pictures and be unsure what on Earth the VAR guy has been looking at. So I’m not sure.

“I think it’s down to people a lot cleverer than me, and whose pay packets are a lot bigger than mine, to make those decisions for world football and whether VAR goes into the Championship or not.”

In May 2022, EFL Chairman Rick Parry said he was “excited” by the prospect of VAR being introduced into the Championship.

“There are systems in place now that look genuinely quite exciting,” he told The Times. “If you look at the PGMOL statistics there is a clear gap now between the accuracy with VAR and the accuracy without and you probably can’t get beyond 90 per cent accuracy without.

“I think it’s just common sense that if we want to achieve a significant lift upwards then the only way to do that is with technology.”

In August 2022, the EFL said they had no plans to fast-track their introduction of VAR in the Championship, despite the startling criticism of refereeing standards by Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson.

He was fined by the FA in December, after saying that the performance of referee Andy Davies at the time was “parks standard”.

He also made comments which were the result of his player, Mark Sykes, being shown a straight red card, whilst Luton’s Luke Freeman only received a yellow card for his reaction.

“I’ve got to be honest with you,” Pearson said. “I thought about it last year, and I’ve thought about it again this year, and that is basically to pack up being involved in the sport.

“The standard of officiating, as far as I’m concerned, is at an all-time low… the integrity of the sport is being compromised.”

Pearson has revealed the PGMOL wrote to the club admitting that in their game against Hull, they should have been awarded two penalties. He says the correspondence also stated that the penalty awarded to Hull was also a mistake.

“They’re (referees) consistently poor. I’ll probably get in trouble again for saying what I think, but somebody has to say it – I’m sick to death about people like me who have jobs that are in jeopardy.

“It’s alright if we play badly every week, I can take losing my job because of that….but for me, it’s just a worry for the game.”

As Reading manager Paul Ince makes a plea to the EFL about VAR after recent refereeing decisions, would you like to see it introduced?

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