The company supplying Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology in the Premier League has apologised to Tottenham and Watford fans after a graphic error during their 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Spurs midfielder Dele Alli salvaged a point for Spurs four minutes from time, cancelling out Abdoulaye Doucoure’s opener for Watford.

But referee Christopher Kavanagh initiated a VAR check after he suspected the ball may have been handled by Alli prior to it hitting the back of the net.

Dele Alli looks at referee Christopher Kavanagh as VAR confuses matters following the midfielder's goal
Dele Alli looks at referee Christopher Kavanagh as VAR confuses matters following the midfielder’s goal

The goal was reviewed by VAR and the decision was made to award the goal with the referee signalling for the players for head back to the centre circle.

But instead of this being shown on the big screen inside the Spurs’ stadium, it indicated the decision was a “no goal” verdict.


This triggered celebrations at the Watford end – and mass confusion from everyone else.

The referee had to seek further confirmation from his VAR assistant via his headset, and the goal was awarded.

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Soccer Saturday pundit Phil Thompson said: “It was so confusing it was untrue.

“This was shambolic, and you can tell from Dele Alli’s demeanour that he thought this was going to be chalked off.

“How they haven’t come to the correct decision I do not know. This should’ve been about the incident and the goal should’ve been ruled out for handball. That should’ve been the end of it.

“The ball hits Alli high up on the arm and it should’ve been disallowed. There were two VAR decisions elsewhere – one on Danny Rose and another on Gerard Deulofeu, which in my decision should’ve been a penalty kick. You thought VAR would clear all this confusion up.”

The company supplying VAR, Hawk-Eye Innovations, said it will work with the Premier League to ensure there is no repeat of the incident.

It said: “Hawk-Eye apologises to Spurs and Watford fans for the confusion caused.

“We are working together with the Professional Game Match Officials Board [the body responsible for professional match officials in England] and the Premier League to understand the root cause of this problem and propose a series of measures to ensure it won’t happen again.”

VAR has come under fire since its introduction this season, with critics complaining the controversial technology stifles the excitement and drama of the game.

Head of the system, former referee Neil Swarbrick, who officiated more than 900 games before becoming one of the new system’s lead referees, told Sky News in August “it’s definitely here to stay” and that its critics need to “just live with it, just grow with it”.