“If we had VAR, I would’ve captained out a Second Division team at Wembley against Chelsea” - Burnley boss Sean Dyche

Twenty two years later, it still rankles with Clarets boss Sean Dyche.

By Chris Boden
Sunday, 21st April 2019, 11:30 pm
Sean Dyche celebrates scoring from the spot in the 1997 FA Cup semifinal
Sean Dyche celebrates scoring from the spot in the 1997 FA Cup semifinal

Chesterfield’s FA Cup semi-final injustice at the hands of Middlesbrough at Old Trafford is a painful example why Dyche is firmly in favour of the introduction of Video Assistant Referees in the Premier League next season.

VAR was brought in at the 2018 World Cup, is used in Serie A in Italy and Germany's Bundesliga, and has been operated in some FA Cup and Carabao Cup games.

Had it been in use in 1997, Spireites skipper Dyche would have become the only man to lead out a third tier club in the FA Cup Final.

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The game finished 3-3 after extra time, with Dyche netting a penalty, but Jonathan Howard's shot - which appeared to cross the line after hitting the bar - wasn’t given, and Chesterfield missed out on a final with Chelsea, losing 3-0 in the replay.

On the back of the drama as Spurs advanced past Manchester City in the Champions League on away goals last Wednesday, Dyche believes it is all about making the correct call: “It has to be right, for me, having had that happen to me as a player.

“If we had VAR, I would’ve captained out a Second Division team at Wembley against Chelsea and that would probably never be repeated again.

“We didn’t have that, and therefore, we’re meant to go, ‘oh well, good old plucky Chesterfield’, and it just goes away.

“In theory, Tottenham could have been sitting there going, ‘oh well, we’re not going to make history anymore because they had an offside goal that was allowed.’

“That can’t be right in this level of the market. If you look at any other business in anything, they would get the margins as fine as they could to stop that from happening.”

Much of the debate has centred on the delays to the game to come to a decision, but Dyche added: “It has to be there, in my opinion.

“The running of it, the streamlining of it will improve I'm sure of that.

“My only question mark - I missed the meeting recently due to back operation - is why you need the referee to be told to look at a monitor in front of everyone.

“I think the idea should be the cold calmness of someone away from the moment can look through it and then advise what the decision is. I personally think that would be a better way of doing.

“Referees work hard, they cover a lot of distance, you're blowing, you're trying to focus and absorb what's going on. I'm not privy to everything he's been told (while watching the monitor) but I'm not sure that needs to be done.

“It needs to be done by other people who can sit there with no emotion, dead calm and go 'this is the decision' on the very big moments.”

Manchester City thought they had beaten Spurs with an injury time clincher from Raheem Sterling, only for VAR to call an offside against Sergio Aguero, sending Spurs fans into ecstasy, as they, instead, advanced to the semi-finals - having earlier had a potential handball call against Fernando Llorente’s goal overuled.

Dyche mused: “It's a necessary thing, of course (it affects) the emotion of the game and the flow, but there's so much at stake in these games.

“We've had our fair share that hasn't gone our way, some have, which wouldn't have gone against us if VAR was in place.

“It has to be there, the running of it, the detail will hopefully be streamlined or improved all the time.”

And Dyche wonders whether the scope of VAR will be increased to clamp down on his pet hate, diving: “Football is a business, that is why I don’t like the cheating.

“It’s the only sport in the world where cheating is actually allowed and, not encouraged, but there’s not a big deterrent on it. You find a sport where they actively allow cheating – it does not happen.

“That is the weird thing about football, is VAR going to clean that up?

“I doubt it because they’ll find a way of curving it to weirdly stop all this stuff, I don’t know why, but they seem to like it and maybe it’ll add some more fluff to the Premier League, I don’t know.

“There’s people’s money on football. There was one the other week at Bournemouth and there wasn’t even a mention.

“In the box someone dives and no mention. Cheating can actually change the whole points, awards, winning, winning trophies – it can change of all that as well.

“There’s a problem in the game, I don’t know why I keep going on about it because no one else does and it’s not going to change.

“The fans are not interested anymore and that’s a huge cultural shift in our country’s football.

“When Drogba first came across he got slaughtered, he was on Match of the Day every week. I’m going to finish it off with this because I have to, my lad plays football and they go on about respect in grassroots football – you know how to clear it up?

“Stop people from cheating and the respect would grow enormously. Ref’s would have more power; parents would have to back off a bit.

“I never get involved with my son’s football, a lad dived right in front of me and the parents of the opposition team clapped and applauded the fact the got penalty and they won.

“The ref was walking off and I never do this, but I said: “Ref, you do realise he dived?” He said: “They all do.” That is a measure of where it’s at. I didn’t take it any further because it’s not his fault because he’s right, everyone does. It’s unfathomable how there’s hundreds of millions of pounds at stake.”