Referees chief Howard Webb has contacted Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal to explain “significant errors” in the VAR process during their matches yesterday (Saturday 11 February) which were “due to human error.”
Brighton had a first-half strike by Pervis Estupinan wrongly disallowed for offside in their 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace and Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Brentford in which Ivan Toney’s equaliser should have been ruled out for an offside in the build-up.
The PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) today responded with a statement to say that both clubs had been contacted about the mistakes.
It said: “PGMOL can confirm its chief refereeing officer Howard Webb has contacted both Arsenal and Brighton and Hove Albion to acknowledge and explain the significant errors in the VAR process in their respective Premier League fixtures on Saturday.
“Both incidents, which were due to human error and related to the analysis of offside situations, are being thoroughly reviewed by PGMOL.”
Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett has called for VAR official Lee Mason to be sacked for failing to rule out Toney’s equaliser.
The PA news agency understands that Mason did not fully investigate an offside decision against Brentford’s Christian Norgaard during the build-up to Toney’s leveller at the Emirates Stadium.
Hackett’s call to Webb comes amid fresh controversy surrounding the implementation of VAR with Chelsea and Brighton also aggrieved at controversial decisions which went against them.
The former official said in a Twitter post: “Howard Webb is now in charge of the PGMOL. One of the first things he should do is dismiss permanent VAR operator Lee Mason.
“This weekend, Mason lets another referee down by not disallowing the Brentford goal for offside. These are decisions that VAR should get right.”
The Gunners were leading courtesy of a goal by former Albion forward Leandro Trossard when Toney headed home from close range after Norgaard had turned the ball back across goal.
After a lengthy delay, referee Peter Bankes was advised to award a goal, much to the annoyance of Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and his players.
PA understands that a block from Brentford defender Ethan Pinnock on Gabriel Magalhaes as Mathias Jensen swung a free-kick into the box was checked and cleared, but also that VAR official Mason did not fully investigate an offside call against Norgaard with no lines drawn on the screen to determine whether the Denmark international should have been penalised.
Arteta’s misgivings were matched by those of former Albion boss Graham Potter who saw his Chelsea side denied a late penalty at West Ham as they were also held to a 1-1 draw, having earlier had two “goals” correctly ruled out for offside.
Defender Tomas Soucek appeared to handle Conor Gallagher’s shot inside the area in his attempt to make a block, although referee Craig Pawson was not advised to review his decision not to award a penalty by VAR official Neil Swarbrick.
A bemused Potter said: “I thought it was a good save. It looks like a handball to me. I didn’t know Tomas could get down that easily and save like that. But it’s not for me to say about VAR.”
Brighton too had cause for complaint after Estupinan’s effort was disallowed after a review.
VAR John Brooks ruled that the Ecuador international was offside but television pictures later suggested the line had been drawn incorrectly from James Tomkins rather than fellow Palace defender Marc Guehi who appeared to be playing him on.
The Seagulls confirmed today that they had received an apology from PGMOL for “a serious error”.
The club said: “As was confirmed to the club by PGMOL last night, a serious error was made in disallowing Pervis Estupinan’s goal at Crystal Palace yesterday afternoon.
“The lines drawn in the VAR room to determine whether Pervis was in an offside position were drawn incorrectly, and the goal should have stood.
“While hugely disappointed by the error, the club has accepted PGMOL’s apology and will not be making any further comment.”