Dick Barrie's picture


Heaven help us all if VAR takes a proper hold in speedway.

I don’t mean the bit at GPs or televised league meetings where the referee is allowed to look at replays of an incident from the public broadcaster before deciding for himself if Nicky fell or was pushed.

I don’t even mean the bit in rugby where, if he can’t figure out which of the sweaty big men piled on top of each other on the try-line actually hand his hand on the correct ball, he makes that square sign with his hands and a guy up in the stands tells him what it seemed like on TV.

Or the Hawkeye thing at the tennis…….

I’m talking about this VAR – Video Assistant Referee -- we’re seeing at the World Cup from Russia just now.

The ball comes over into the penalty box. Neymar -- or Harry Kane -- throws himself to the ground and the referee either blows for a penalty or waves play on. His decision. Like has been happening for nearly 200 years.

Except that he might suddenly get a whisper in his ear from the VAR man, saying he was wrong, and it really was (or wasn’t) a penalty after all!

In other words, the decision is being taken out of the referee’s hands. By faceless VAR authority.

So, imagine this being extended to speedway. A race begins and after a lap or two a visiting rider slides gracefully to the ground and the referee either sticks on the red lights or doesn’t. It is their decision.

But then, just as the remaining riders are hurtling towards the chequered flag, the referee hears a whisper in the ear…..

“Er, Christina (to pluck a name at random) this is the VAR -- we think that was wrong”.

“We saw that through our cameras and we think you should change that decision, exclude the home guy and re-run the race”.

And if VAR is installed, that’s what would start happening……….

Once the resulting riot had abated and everyone was ready for a re-run, guess what?

The whole process – having happened three times in the first three races – has taken so long, it is curfew time already, and racing has to be abandoned.

Total pish. Referees are there to referee.

Some are, er, better at it than others, but that’s why they’re there.

If they can, and feel a need, they might want to look at a screen before pressing a button (or not) but at present, decisions are left in their – usually-capable – hands.

Long may it continue.


Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at dick@crystalfm.co.uk