"You're not fit to referee".

One of the more common chants heard within the environs occupied by the Sunderland support since the club and Premier League went their separate ways in 2017.

With a downturn in playing standard it is unsurprising that the quality elsewhere was not what many had grown accustomed to over the preceding decade.

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The chant, not intended to be contemptuous about the physical traits, or lack of, regarding the 'man in the middle' would become a regular feature as trips to Fleetwood, Cheltenham and elsewhere were increasingly navigated without having a satellite navigation system to rely upon.

I find it hard to imagine that fans beyond the North East have refrained from exhibiting their own annoyance at what they perceive as incompetence from on field officialdom.

All of which leads to the conjecture of VAR being utilised by the Championship at some point in the not too distant future.

VAR, Video Assistant Referee, allows for secondary viewing from ubiquitous angles - often slowed to a potentially incriminating pace, has been a success.

That is, a success in its original intention. To right the wrong. To ensure the correct outcome to an incident that has occurred, often much speedier than the human eye can recognise. The figures are not solidified but rarely does it fall below 97% in reaching, on occasion after several minutes, a just outcome.

The system has been subject to concern and complaint. It detracts from the viewing pleasure, it eats into time, it disrupts the instantaneous and instinctive euphoria that comes with goals.

There are merits in some such grievance albeit it is hardly helped by some specific laws of the game, but we should not disregard certain refereeing realities from before it arrived.

In 2010, a World Cup in the searing heat of a South African summer, Fabio Capello was tasked with leading England to global glory. That they underperformed was irrefutable. That said, they fell victim to a scandalous decision which stopped them equalising against footballing foe Germany as both battled for a quarter final place.

Frank Lampard's attempt struck the underside of the crossbar, bouncing well over the line yet the latter part escaped the sights of those positioned to lawfully confirm. Several hours later it was Mexico who raged at injustice. Both instances, compounded by their happening on the most worldly of platforms, would have implications beyond the exits of the respective nations.

The former would become a topic of debate beyond the public gaze and is now held up as expediting the process which allowed goal line technology to be a feature by the next time the international elite assembled in Brazil four years later.

A match official's lot is thankless, in more ways than one. They are stakeholders yet seem the last constituency within the game to be afforded respect.

Whilst craven coaches wince at the notion of individualising criticism of players in the public domain, they are only too happy to lambast an official, often designed to exculpate themselves from accountability stemming from a recent reversal.


What VAR has done is, at the very least, dilute the ease by which some would apportion blame on any one individual. That without pointing to the numbers that demonstrate effectiveness.

For the most part that is, progress but not perfection.

Who knows, it may emerge at the Stadium of Light soon. Mind you, if so then one can hope it is not because the second tier has introduced it but that Sunderland have gone to where it resides as of now.