Sunday’s FA Cup fourth round match against Chelsea will be historic for Sheffield Wednesday as they play a match with a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for the first time.
There’s a chance the match could yet make headlines for other reasons if the Owls can cause an upset against their Premier League opposition, but the VAR first for Steve Agnew’s side will raise interesting questions if it is needed during the match.
VAR has caused plenty of debate this season after the FA opted to trial it in some, but not all, ties of the world’s oldest national football competition following its use at the World Cup in Russia last summer.
Premier League clubs have agreed in principle to bring the system into use in the top flight of English football from next season and it has also been used in the Carabao Cup this year.
How does VAR work and when is it used ?
In short, the system is there to act as an additional referee to assist the on-field officials with decisions relating to goals, penalties, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity.
VAR is only supposed to be used when the on-field ref has made a “clear and obvious error” in a “match changing” situation and can be recommended by match officials on the pitch or those reviewing the footage.
Only the referee can request a video review, however, and they will have the final say on whether the decision will be changed.
The refereeing technology has caused debate since its introduction for the delay it causes when officials are reviewing decisions and FA Cup ties have not been exempt from the controversy.
Championship Derby County had a goal ruled out against Southampton in their third round replay at St Mary’s Stadium last week after VAR judged it to be offside – although it was neither a clear or obvious error.
The Rams eventually progressed thanks to a penalty shoot-out victory, but VAR has so far failed to cut out the debates over refereeing decisions it was meant to prevent.
So how could it affect Wednesday?
The game should continue as normal but if there’s any doubt over an infringement in the lead up to a goal, or if the correct decision has been made in relation to a penalty or a red card then Wednesdayites could see VAR put to use.