Former Premier League referee believes VAR should be brought in for Sheffield Wednesday games 'as soon as possible'

Former referees’ chief Keith Hackett has come out in support of VAR’s controversial first outing in the Premier League this weekend, saying he believed it should be extended to the Championship as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 6:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th August 2019, 6:07 pm

Sheffield-based Hackett, now 75, officiated in the top tier of English football for 25 years and has been an outspoken advocate of the system for many years.

VAR was rolled out across all Premier League fixtures for the first time this weekend and delivered its fair share of talking points.

But after decisions made in Middlesbrough’s defeat to Bristol City led ‘Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate to admit he was ‘baffled’ that the technology hasn’t been extended to the Championship, Hackett was quick to agree.

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Keith Hackett shows West Ham's Tony Gayle a red card during the FA Cup Semi-Final against Nottingham Forest at Villa Park.
Keith Hackett shows West Ham's Tony Gayle a red card during the FA Cup Semi-Final against Nottingham Forest at Villa Park.

Speaking to The Star, Heckett said: “It’s got to come in [to the Championship].

“When you look at the way things have gone in that division in the past few years it’s always been very tight – there have been one or two points in it.

“Every point counts and every decision counts.

Referee Keith Hackett at Hallam FC the world's oldest football ground

“Ultimately referees in the Championship are inexperienced in that they are at the start of their advancement to the Premier League. Many Championship games are more demanding than in the Premier League.”

Hackett, who presided over a number of FA Cup finals and international matches in an illustrious career, reasons that although there may be issues in getting enough officials of a required standard to cover all the matches across a weekend it is often those in the second tier that often require more assistance because of the style of play involved.

He would also see replays broadcast within the stadium in the format that has become common in rugby and cricket and said that authorities must be transparent in publicising the percentage success rate of decisions.

He said: “It’s often said that the pace of Premier League games are quicker than any other, but that’s just not the case. Often Championship matches are quicker.

“And there are more long balls in certain areas which can catch referees and assistants out.

“They don’t make mistakes because they want to, in the thousands of reviews that I’ve done over my career mistakes have been made because the referees have not been in the correct position. VAR gives them a second chance in that respect.”