Former Burnley, Bradford and Leeds striker Blake: How can VAR be good for football? I've stopped watching the Premier League
'One word – shambles'. That’s what Robbie Blake says about VAR following its introduction to the Premier League and a succession of controversies that have brought the system under severe criticism.
Although introduced to put right “clear and obvious mistakes” it has arguably become ever more nit-picky, leading to an uproar by many - claiming it is destroying the authenticity of football.
Blake, now coach at Isthmian premier division Bognor, was asked for his thoughts on VAR as a former forward who used to grace Premier League pitches.
Speaking to Lee Roberts of Rocks Radio, Blake said: “Yes, granted it’ll get some decisions right, but you haven’t got a referee actually refereeing a game anymore, you’ve just got them in a studio sometimes 200-odd miles away from the game.
“It’s just not good for football – all it’s done is take the emotion from the game.”
Friday night’s Premier League game between Sheffield United and West Ham ended with Robert Snodgrass seemingly grabbing a late equaliser for the Hammers after the Blades had led 1-0. But VAR disallowed the goal after the ball appeared to strike the arm of Declan Rice in the build-up to the goal, albeit accidentally.
Blake has called time on watching the top flight. He said: “I’ve actually stopped watching the Premier League now, even with West Ham last night it’s embarrassing.”
The away end at Bramall Lane erupted when Snodgrass’s shot hit the back of the net, but that emotion was cruelly swiped away from them when the on-pitch referee made the dreaded VAR signal and pointed for a free-kick. Blake feels this short-lived happiness is one of VAR's worst side effects.
“The people who are suffering are the supporters and the players, so how can that be fundamentally good for football?," he asked.
Many say the video system, rather than assisting officials, actually overrules them. Blake added: “I’d probably say around 85% of the referees, when asked, would say they don’t like it. The Premier League have got to take a real good look at themselves.”