Inside £1m ‘futuristic’ VAR hub with pool table and MASSAGE AREA as ex-Premier League ref blasts it as ‘holiday camp’


REFS’ chief Howard Webb has been warned: Stockley Park is a huge waste of money.

London’s “elite performance” VAR complex — costing more than £1million — opened in August.

populous.comVAR’s ‘elite performance’ complex features a number of amenities[/caption]

populous.comThe plush new facility cost £1million[/caption]

populous.comOfficials have the best surroundings to hone their craft[/caption]

populous.comThey also have a luxurious private gym[/caption]

PGMOL boss Webb claimed the “cutting-edge” VAR hub would deliver “an environment where the best possible outcomes can be achieved to benefit the game”.

But a host of Prem chiefs — including Mikel Arteta, Jurgen Klopp, Erik ten Hag, David Moyes and Gary O’Neil — have been upset at video ref decisions this season.

And former top ref Mark Halsey blasted: “The facilities on offer at Stockley Park make it seem like a holiday camp. But referees and officials are there to do a job.

“Howard wants a central hub but doesn’t need a workplace where it is all about rest and relaxation.

“The money spent is a tidy sum but what are we getting for it? Certainly not world-class officials.

“Nice conference rooms, top-of the-range furniture, a gym and an area for table tennis.”

Refs at Stockley Park can use a lounge, canteen, gym, massage area and pool table, plus  outdoor balcony with sofas and views over London.

Halsey added: “I could understand splashing the cash on accessories if VARs were getting the decisions right.  But they’re not so it’s a waste of money.


populous.comThe facility features a meeting room a meeting room[/caption]

populous.comWhile there is plenty of room to lounge[/caption]

“Some of the incidents we have seen in the last few weeks have shown VAR has not improved since its implementation. If anything, it has gone backwards.

“VAR isn’t working, not because of the technology, but because of the personnel operating it.

“We should be putting the money into producing better quality coaching and training for officials, rather than facilities at Stockley Park.

“The standard of refereeing is not what it should be at elite level. We only have a handful of top-level refs in Michael Oliver, Anthony Taylor and Chris Kavanagh and that’s not good enough.

“VARs should not be based at Stockley Park. They should be at the ground as part of the team of officials.

“That would build better relationships and aid the VAR process.”

Liverpool boss Klopp demanded a replay after VAR Darren England wrongly ruled out a Luis Diaz goal against Tottenham.

Arsenal called for an officiating shake-up after Arteta’s rant over Newcastle’s controversial winner.

The Gunners claimed Anthony Gordon’s goal should have been chalked off for a foul, handball, offside and the ball being out of play.

Former Toon boss Graeme Souness slammed the “flagrantly poor refereeing”, while Halsey and fellow ex-refs Dermot Gallagher, Keith Hackett, Mark Clattenburg and Chris Foy all said VAR should have disallowed Gordon’s goal.

Hackett fumed: “The decision to allow it to stand was a clear case of VAR not performing to the standard it should. The rest of the world are laughing at us.”

But PGMOL chief Webb backed ref Stuart Attwell and VAR Andy Madley in allowing it when VAR audio of the incident was released.

Madley hints the ball HAD gone out when he says to the video operator: “Go two frames forward, the ball is already back in play.”

Halsey said: “What does Madley mean by that? His language implies the ball has already gone out.

“Why use the phrase ‘already back in play?’ Listening to the audio, VAR is all over the place. They talk over each other, it’s chaotic. We need better training.”

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Close-up camera angles of Joelinton’s challenge on Gabriel — which appeared to confirm a push — were not used in determining whether it was a foul, but WERE used on the onside ruling.

Halsey added: “Why did the VARs rule no push from Joelinton by using two long-range cameras rather than looking at it  from close up?

“Attwell would not have seen the two hands on Gabriel’s back because of his viewing angle. VAR should have recommended a review.”

Ref at centre of Arsenal boss Arteta storm breaks silence on VAR

By Dan King

THE ref at the centre of Mikel Arteta’s rant over officials admits Stockley Park’s state-of-the-art facilities mean VARs should be delivering “world-class performances”.

Arsenal boss Arteta has been charged with misconduct over his astonishing attack on ref Stuart Attwell, VAR Andy Madley and his assistant Stuart Burt.

Arteta slammed their refusal to disallow Newcastle’s controversial winner against his team earlier this month as “a disgrace” and “embarrassing”.

Gunners chiefs backed his blast and called for refs’ body PGMOL to “urgently address” the “unacceptable” standards of officiating.

PGMOL’s Key Match Incident Panel have admitted 19 blunders already this season — including  a “significant human error” by VARs Darren England and Dan Cook in wrongly ruling out Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool against Tottenham in September.

The embarrassing stats come despite the revolutionary new VAR hub being opened in August.

In a video Attwell concedes: “It’s a fantastic advancement for us.

“It’s put us in a real position to be able to deliver world-class performances in a world-class competition.

“We can turn up here now on a match day knowing full well we’ve got every opportunity to be ready for the game and when the game starts, to make decisions in the best possible environment.”

Fellow elite ref Peter Bankes added: “It’s beyond my wildest dreams in terms of the facilities.

“The hub itself is fantastic, futuristic and very professional to prepare us mentally.”

Costing more than £1million, it boasts 94 top-of-the-range TV screens, noise-cancelling headphones, a debrief room,  gym, massage area, lounge, canteen, pool table, video training suite, tactics area and outdoor balcony with sofas.

The gaming chair-style seats are etched with a VAR emblem.
PGMOL hired Populous — the architecture firm behind the stunning Tottenham Hotspur  Stadium — as well as Instinct Laboratory and IMG to ensure the Stockley Park hub opened as an elite environment.

And PGMOL chief Howard Webb insisted: “It’s a cutting-edge and bespoke elite performance facility, an environment where  the best possible outcomes can be achieved to benefit the game.

“It’s the perfect space for our officials to work.

“Good officiating always starts on the field of play — but VAR plays its part to ensure outcomes of games are not decided by clear and obvious errors.”

Yet Arteta is one of a number of managers who have criticised Prem officials this season.

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil claimed his side have been robbed of SIX points due to  VAR blunders.

Manchester United chief Erik ten Hag has also been critical, while Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi revealed he does not like “80 per cent” of refs in England.

And West Ham manager David Moyes claimed some bosses are scared to speak out for fear of being fined, but declared: “We’ve all been disappointed with some of the officiating this season.”

Each game is monitored by one VAR, an assistant (AVAR) and a replay operator. Mobile phones must be left at reception.

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PGMOL believe the hub will deliver long-term benefits and VAR has led to more correct calls since it began five years ago.

David Land, managing director of Populous, said: “We collaborated closely with Instinct Laboratory and IMG to create a bespoke facility.

It is designed to help VAR officials perform to their optimum level.”
David Clarke, head of performance at Instinct Laboratory, said the hub is “the environment officials deserve”.

While their website claims: “We are ahead of the curve when  it comes to understanding human performance.

“Performance is all about  getting the very best out of  those operating in high-pressure  situations. This could be anything from elite athletes to surgeons in the operating theatre.

“It’s vital these key decision-makers can be the best possible versions of themselves.”

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