Players and managers are sick of VAR and this week’s errors reinforce West Ham’s call to SCRAP it

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SINCE the Premier League season resumed on June 17, there have been 49 matches without incident.

Yes, we have had empty stadiums, worn masks, socially distanced, had five subs and water breaks.

But still there has been no significant safety or security incidents.

Unless, of course, you include the incidents involving VAR.

They got it shockingly wrong again on Thursday – making wrong decisions in three games.

All involved penalties. Two that should not have been given – for Manchester United and Southampton – and one which should have been for Spurs.

The frustration of players and managers is palpable.

Everyone understands that refs make honest mistakes in actual time.

But when VAR was introduced to right those wrongs, even with the luxury of time and dozens of angles to review, and yet they still get it wrong, well it just feels worse.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith called it “disgraceful” – I’m guessing that’s because like everyone he could accept the ref got it wrong on the pitch but couldn’t understand how VAR let them down on review.

Even sitting at home most people could have worked out it was not a penalty but somehow VAR didn’t come to that conclusion.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho didn’t really have to say anything about Josh King’s blatant shove on Harry Kane which somehow VAR decided did not warrant a penalty.

Mourinho’s facial expressions and body language said everything his words didn’t.

No one storms out of a press conference with more style than him.

The conclusion for everyone after Thursday is VAR, brought in to right the on-pitch wrongs, has just not been effective in doing so.

Something has to be done. Like scrapping it, as I said last week.

The good news is football audiences are massively up post Covid-19 — hitting record TV numbers in the UK and across the world.

But we all know that there is nothing like watching a match live.

And the final stage of the five-step return of the Premier League is perhaps the most significant of all — getting the supporters back into the stadiums.

It’s also the most complex.

The aim of the Premier League, the Government and the SAG (the Safety Advisory Group who issue the licenses for the stadium to hold supporters) is to have fans back in FULL football stadiums by September.

Before then we will need to work out the Government’s interpretation of social distancing — one metre, two metres or something in between.

And we must work out how to reduce the risk of transmission during travel to and from the stadium.

We need to reduce Covid-19 prevalence in the crowd, deliver high hygiene standards in catering, toilets and shops etc to reduce the risk to supporters and staff.

To trial new ways of doing things there will be host of test events in August which will help form the policy going forward so we can finally open the turnstiles.

The DCMS Stage Five Framework and Green Guide Additions from the Sports Grounds Safety Authority are due to be published within the next few days.

They will then be analysed by the PL, trialled in August, amended (or not) and adopted by clubs and implemented.

West Ham are lucky to have 66,000 seats so the chances are that even if capacity is reduced during the test events we will have the ability to let in tens of thousands of fans.

We all need some good news. We need our supporters back — it’s just not the same without you.

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