Wednesday 18 July 2018

Jurgen Klopp claims Liverpool's FA Cup tie was cut short on BT Sport's orders

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during the Cup defeat to West Brom
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during the Cup defeat to West Brom

Chris Bascombe and Ben Rumsby

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has made the extraordinary claim added time was cut short by broadcasters BT Sport during his side’s FA Cup defeat by West Bromwich Albion.

In the latest controversy following the introduction of the video assistant referee, Klopp suggested extensive delays caused by the technology were overlooked because of television scheduling. Klopp’s assertion followed a conversation with fourth official Jon Moss.

Broadcasters BT Sport and the referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited dispute Klopp’s claims.

The amount of injury-time – four minutes in the first half of the fourth-round FA Cup tie – was queried because there were several stoppages as match referee Craig Pawson reviewed incidents on video.

Pawson paused the game when using VAR to disallow a West Brom goal, award Roberto Firmino a penalty and determine if the visitors’ third should stand.

“What I heard was that the actual extra-time in the first half should have been 10 minutes. It was only four minutes. I heard that television said it’s not longer than four minutes,” said Klopp. The correct time should actually have been seven minutes.

“Of course that’s not possible, you can’t cut match time because there is something else to broadcast. I don’t know what was afterwards, maybe the news or something. It was 10 minutes and so you need to play 10 minutes longer. You cannot say it’s now a little bit too long.

“If it is 10 minutes, play 10 minutes. It will not happen often but, if it happens, everyone wants to see the game and not people standing around while someone makes a decision. When we got the introduction about VAR, they have a lot of screens where they can watch it from different angles so make a decision and go.”

Klopp acknowledged his remarks will be interpreted as sour grapes after his side’s 3-2 defeat.

“Look, we are really used to accepting difficult things. You think that’s right, that wrong, you say it, nobody listens. You step back because you don’t want to be a bad loser or whatever,” he said.

“But that was the situation. I would not have spoken about it but that was the case. Obviously, everybody needs to get used to it [VAR] and it took long because the referee went to the screen to watch it by himself. I felt it was really long and it should not take that long.”

BT Sport insist they have no influence on how long the game lasts. “As broadcaster, we have nothing to do with the decision that the referee makes about the amount of added time,” said a BT spokesperson.

The PGMOL, which is delegated the handling of cup games by the Football Association, believes Klopp may have misinterpreted his conversation with Moss. It says the VAR officials would have told the match officials how long to add on and Klopp may have mistakenly thought a reference to ‘TV’ meant the broadcasters when in fact it denoted the video assistants.

The PGMOL says there is no communication between match officials and BT Sport, nor any other broadcaster.

A spokesperson for the PGMOL said, "The VAR official will advise the fourth official on the number of minutes to be included as added time for each half in respect of any time lost through VAR. Broadcasters are not involved in this process."Moss, coincidentally, was named as the match referee for Liverpool’s Premier League fixture with Tottenham Hotspur this Sunday. He is also the fourth official for Liverpool’s trip to Huddersfield this evening.

The latest furore exacerbates a difficult introduction to English football for the VAR system, mainly over the length of time referees are taking to review incidents.

However, the chief architect of video technology in football has promised it will get quicker.

David Elleray, the former Premier League referee and now technical director of the International Football Association Board, says the teething issues will be overcome.

“England is at a very early stage of this process and all the countries have found that, in the early stages, it has taken longer than ideally people would want,” said Elleray.

“It’s a case of getting used to the system and, in all the other countries, the time the reviews take have gone down dramatically as the referees and VARs have got used to using the system.

“One would liken it to the first time you got a mobile phone or a new laptop: you’re not actually completely conversant with it, no matter how well you’ve read the instructions or practised it, until you’ve actually had to use it under pressure. People shouldn’t worry too much. It will get better, with time and with familiarity.”

Pawson was also criticised for consulting the pitchside monitor before awarding a penalty on Saturday instead of simply relying on his VAR. Elleray said: “It may be, in a few years’ time, when everybody’s more used to VARs, that there may be fewer of what we call on-field reviews. But a lot of players and coaches are saying, ‘I don’t want somebody I can’t see making the biggest decisions of the match’.

“If Martin Atkinson’s refereeing, they want Martin Atkinson to give the biggest decisions.”

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