A new development has come to my attention which I stumbled upon by accident last Sunday while watching a football match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City – during a break from my regular seven hours of household chores and tending to the grounds.
It’s called VAR which stands for Video Assistant Referee and is being used to help make difficult decisions easier and eradicate “clear and obvious errors”, according to the BBC football website.
As far as I’m aware it consists of an overweight security guard sitting in a terminal building near the football ground surrounded by CCTV monitors which he checks occasionally in between munching on chilli-flavoured Doritos.
Now, I quite fancy this gig as it seems a bit of a dawdle. The hours aren’t long, you can flick channels to Netflix during the game, watch Fawlty Towers reruns and they’ve probably got a vending machine that’s well stocked with cans of Diet Coke. All you have to do is watch a bit of the match and shout down the microphone at the referee every ten minutes or so if you think something controversial has happened or a fox is about to run on the pitch.
The secret to this is to listen to the crowd, gage the players reactions and then tell the ref that the opposite thing has happened.
It’s cool cause they never check what you tell them even though they’ve got their own monitor at the side of the pitch.
An end to argument
They use a type of VAR in other sports like the tennis, the rugby and the cricket but I gather there’s no plans to introduce it at the weekend domino flyer at Wee Jimmy’s pub in Cowdenbeath.
Some things are better left alone – one can only imagine the carnage, if someone is caught hiding the double six under their shoe. This got me to thinking that the VAR could work well in other walks of life.
It could be used for supermarket disputes between disgruntled shoppers and would act as the final arbitrator in any argument as to who got the last chicken in Sainsbury’s or turkey in Tesco’s as Christmas fast approaches.
That old argument between the sexes over the toilet seat being up or down could easily be solved with a bit of VAR as couples check the monitor to see who the culprit was.
My beloved Edinburgh cooncil, who are currently in the process of renaming the Castle the “Edinburgh Underbelly Castle Arena”, should get on board with VAR as there are a myriad of ways they could put the technology to good use.
Speeding taxi drivers going full pelt at 23mph in a 20mph zone at 4am in the New Town – consult the VAR. Local residents trying to smuggle cats disguised as dugs into selected libraries on Dog Day Afternoons... yip, to the VAR we go.
There’s a surefire deterrent right there. Down with this sort of thing, don’t let the vagabonds away with anything – get the VAR on them. Show the blighters the “clear and obvious error of their ways”.
Was Kinnock tripped?
The politics is another arena that’s just crying out for a Video Assistant Referee.
Let’s play back that footage of Alex Salmond telling us the independence referendum was a “once in a lifetime” thing when he insists he had said it was the “opportunity of a lifetime” instead. No more letting the days go by – the all-seeing, all-knowing VAR will settle all ‘he said, she said’ matters from now on your honour.
Did Boris Johnson grab that disposable coffee cup deliberately before his trusted aide could snatch it and shout “no disposable cups”? Was the giant marshamallow’s hand in an unnatural position? Fear not dear reader – our nacho-loving security guard in the sky has the final answer.
Retrospective VAR could be applied to other major political events in history like Neil Kinnock taking a tumble on Brighton Beach in 1983, shortly after being elected Labour leader.
Did he fall or was he tripped? VAR can tell us if his wife Glenys is in the clear for this one as the Welsh Wizard went down like a sack of tatties in the penalty box. Sadly, that tumble sounded the death knell for him ever getting the big job at No 10.
“If Kinnock wins today will the last person in Britain please turn out the lights,” the Sun newspaper would later go on to proclaim with that trip on the beach still ingrained in our memories. Oh, how it could have all been so different with VAR technology.
Now, I’m no lover of football pundit and former England and Newcastle Utd star Alan Shearer. A bit vanilla for my taste in sporting stars – the ying to Diego Maradona’s yang, if you like.
Shearer looks like the type of bloke who pays someone to iron his socks and pants while stressing to them the importance of getting off to a good start with the first 20 minutes of ironing being vital.
But I’ve thought of a cunning plan to get our own back on the Geordie goal merchant who once scored for England against Scotland at Wembley in 1996.
Why don’t we start a petition to have his 300-odd goals historically reviewed by VAR? A cold case review if you like.
I’m sure we could knock a hundred or so off for use of the elbow and his big toe must have strayed into an offside position a fair few times.
Bring me the VAR, shake the security guard out of his slumber and start him on this project. That’ll teach Shearer to score against Scotland and could provide some sort of payback for those of us forced to tape Match of the Day so we can fast forward past the dreadful punditry.
The advanced technology has brought Orwell’s nightmarish ‘Big Brother is watching’ prediction into the world of football and who knows where this will end?
But hold that thought for a moment – while we consult the VAR.