Tougher action needed on simulation and thorough VAR review in Mark Halsey’s Ref Review

After another frantic few weeks of officiating, both VAR and non-VAR related, Mark Halsey is back after the winter break to run the rule over last weekend’s big decisions in the Premier League and a few of the major flash points from the Christmas and New Year period…


Kevin Friend (Brighton & Hove Albion vs Liverpool)

The penalty Salah won against Brighton there’s no problem with. He’s gone down naturally, he hasn’t thrown himself and it’s a clear foul. It’s not only pulled his shirt but he’s clipped him too and I’ve no qualms with that one.


Lee Mason (Cardiff City vs Huddersfield Town)

From what I understand, Lee Mason awarded the penalty – in my opinion correctly – and why he’s changed his mind I’ll never know because I’ve been told the assistant referee had no input and Lee changed his mind himself.

Lee’s refereeing with no confidence and you have to ask if he’s good enough right now to be a Premier League referee. To give the assistant the thumbs up and then just change your mind with no consultation, only Lee will know why he’s done that because in my opinion he’s got it right in the first place.


Michael Oliver (Leicester City vs Southampton)

Michael is the best referee in the Premier League by far but he’s a human being and you’re not going to be at your best every week.

It’s the same with players, it’s impossible. Michael will look back and be disappointed he didn’t pick up on the Vardy dive and that’s where our simulation panel need to come in because it still needs retrospective action in my opinion.

On the sending off, I thought Valery deserved his first caution but looking at his second one in isolation I don’t think he deserved a second caution on that incident alone. I don’t know if he’d committed other fouls before that and I think Michael with his experience could have managed that better than he did.


Mike Dean (Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester United)

The game was good and the discipline of the players was good. I thought Mike Dean refereed well but I think Paul Pogba was very lucky to escape a red card for his challenge.

Mike was caught on the wrong side and didn’t have a very good viewing angle of Pogba’s foot being so high but I do think he was lucky to not see a red card for that one.


Craig Pawson (Manchester City vs Wolves)

I think Boly was a bit unlucky. I keep hearing people say he was high or his studs were showing but that doesn’t come into the law.

What the referee has to decide is did the challenge endanger the player’s safety with excessive force and brutality? If you look at Craig’s position, he’s a long way from the incident and you can see he’s not sure and you can see him looking to Chris Kavanagh for some guidance.

There wasn’t too much player reaction and I think on another day another referee may have just issued a caution and I don’t think there would have been too many complaints had he done. He wins the ball and Silva comes into his path and he catches him on the shin. You can’t criticise Craig’s decision because it was a judgement call but I felt there’s been worse challenges this season that weren’t given as a red card.

The time has come now where The FA have to look at these challenges and whether the intensity of the challenge is worthy of a three-game ban. In the Champions League you’d get one match for that but here it’s three.




Graham Scott (Liverpool vs Newcastle United)

I’ve been going on my pet hates and I’ve written quite a few columns on simulation this season. Mo Salah is a wonderful player but we’ve got a disease in the game at present where players are exaggerating contact.

We saw Oumar Niasse face retrospective action last season and he was subsequently banned for two games. The FA said there was minimal contact but it was exaggerated, so they have to be consistent and I was very surprised the panel didn’t look at Salah’s because I strongly believe he exaggerated the contact.

That was a prime example for the simulation panel to come in and act and they didn’t. We haven’t seen anything this season and I don’t understand it, they might as well not be there.

We’re seeing too many incidents recently and I now strongly believe to stop this happening week in, week out and the law has to change. All acts of simulation, wherever it is on the field of play, should be a sending off offence and it’s the only way we’ll rid the game of this disease.


Anthony Taylor (Manchester City vs Liverpool)

To be fair to both teams it was a pulsating game of football and one of the best Premier League games I’ve seen in a long time.

Everyone was talking about the Vincent Kompany challenge on Salah, it was a big key match decision and I think Anthony was caught out because Man City had the ball on the attack and he was about 20 yards away, then the play has switched quickly.

Kompany was a lucky boy not to see red on that occasion and that was a little bit different to the Boly challenge. You’ve got to be wary when you don’t control the ball and the way you recover.


Stuart Attwell (Manchester United vs Reading)

I think if they had disallowed the goal for offside nobody would have been talking about the Mata incident. The offside was the first offence with Lukaku and does he become involved in active play and interfere with the defenders?

I think he is. He makes that movement towards the ball and in terms of Mata, the ball has to be played or touched by an opponent and that brings Fred into play and when does he become in active play? The interpretation of the offside law makes it so difficult to understand and it needs simplifying.


Simon Hooper (Burnley vs Barnsley)

Simon should never have allowed the ball to be put on the penalty spot and that situation should never have been allowed to happen, but I understand that he was told the incident was complete and had been reviewed.

Lee Mason, who was the VAR, has again come in for some criticism. Simon was told the review was complete and then they saw the offside and changed the decision. The PGMOL have got to come out and tell people what’s going on and make it clearer for people.


Michael Oliver (Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea)

It’s a clear penalty on Harry Kane for me. The keeper rushes out and there’s clear contact but of course what has caused all the talking is the phase of play building up to that and the offside.

The VAR depends on which camera angles are afforded to the VAR. The replays have to be parallel with the play and if you look at the angle shown on TV it’s forward of the assistant. If you look at Chelsea’s it’s behind so there’s no parallel view of the offside which makes it very difficult.

It’s imperative the VAR is afforded the correct angle and I understand there wasn’t the same amount of cameras in this game as there was at other games. I think the assistant would have been better keeping his flag down because all incidents are reviewed automatically anyway, so that passage of play leading up to the penalty would have been reviewed.

It’s all down to the camera angles and it has to be parallel and it was clear in this incident that it wasn’t and that’s because they didn’t have the same amount of cameras available.

We also have to look at why referees are not going to view the monitor. In the FA Cup game between Grimsby and Crystal Palace, the referee played an advantage in the second minute, went back and cautioned the player and the VAR decided to send him off and the referee didn’t check the monitor.

The protocol states ‘For subjective decisions, eg. Intensity of a foul challenge, interference at offside, handball etc, an on-field review is often appropriate’. Around the world they’re looking at the monitor but in the UK they don’t want that but sometimes they need to do because you need to make your own mind up.


You can follow Mark on Twitter at @RefereeHalsey

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