- Howard Webb joined Michael Owen to discuss some VAR incidents
- Match Officials Mic’d Up releases conversations between referees and VAR officials
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Premier League fans have criticized the format of the Match Officials Mic’d Up show as ‘a self-congratulatory exercise for Howard Webb’ and have questioned the selection process for the incidents on the programme.
The 25-minute show, which will be simulcast on Sky Sports and TNT Sports, was introduced this season to give fans a better understanding of the process referees and VAR officials go through when making decisions.
Webb, a former Premier League referee, is joined in studio by Michael Owen and walks viewers through the incidents, aided by the audio of the conversations between the referees and VAR officials, which is being released especially for the show.
On Tuesday night, Webb and Owen reunited for the second time this season and the first time since early September.
The pair debated Anthony Gordon’s controversial winner for Newcastle against Arsenal earlier this month, Cristian Romero’s sending off in Tottenham’s 4-1 defeat to Chelsea and Scott McTominay’s goal against Fulham, which was disallowed for offside.
Premier League fans have criticized the format of the Match Officials Mic’d Up show
Audience members believe the show would work much better if Howard Webb (left) was questioned by someone other than Michael Owen (right)
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But while listening to the dialogue between the referees and VAR officials may be revealing for some supporters, many felt the show’s format failed to make the most of the material available.
“Mic’d Up is nothing more than a self-congratulatory pat on the back for Howard Webb as it stands,” wrote one viewer on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
‘It’s completely useless. Release all the audio, or don’t bother releasing anything at all. Don’t pick and choose what to release weeks after the games.”
Another added: “Great Howard Webb cop on mic. @themichaelowen giddy with excitement about the calls in Newcastle. No real explanation.
‘You cannot let VAR stand for subjective views, it must be a fact. Hands on equals wrong. Set positions. We’ve seen this happen since the Newcastle vs Arsenal game.”
Mic’d Up received some praise for the light it shed on the complex decision-making behind the Newcastle-Arsenal incident.
UEFA licensed coach David Garcia wrote: ‘Seeing the thought process played out live like this, I now realize that VAR is more about a collective effort between referees to try to make the right decision than it is about any technology.’
But others felt the show would benefit from Webb getting questions from someone other than Owen.
‘What is the use of this program. 1 They will never admit a mistake. 2 MICHAEL OWEN why oh why he will never dispute anything Howard Webb says,” one viewer wrote.
Another added: “Can we find someone willing to actually question Howard Webb to do the show instead of a puppet like Michael Owen?”
Another spectator, meanwhile, suggested the show highlighted all the shortcomings of VAR.
“Howard Webb just confirmed what a SHAMBLES VAR is,” he wrote.