Tottenham and Liverpool could replay their fixture following Saturday’s VAR debacle due to a little-known Premier League rule.
Luis Diaz’s perfectly valid goal was ruled out for offside against Spurs as VAR officials Darren England and Dan Cook incorrectly gave a ‘check complete’ signal to on-field referee Simon Hooper, after the latter had incorrectly ruled the goal out for offside. The officials were aware of the mistake immediately after but thought their decision couldn’t be reversed due to VAR rules.
Audio of the incident has since been released by referee’s body PGMOL at the behest of Liverpool in the name of transparency, to show how they reached the decision. Having been denied the lead, Liverpool went on to lose the fixture 2-1.
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England and Cook have both been sidelined by the PGMOL thanks to their roles in the blunder. And while the Reds have not directly called for the game to be replayed, a damning statement from the club claimed "sporting integrity had been undermined" and that they would "explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution".
Experts say that suggests Liverpool have already taken legal advice – and they could end up lobbying for the match to be replayed after the release of the controversial audio. That is something which the Premier League have the power to grant.
Stephen Taylor Heath, co-head of Sports Law at JMW Solicitors, told The Mirror: “Rule L18 outlines that the Premier League board has the power to order a league match to be replayed provided that recommendation to that effect has been made by a commission under rule W51.
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“In addition to this, under rule W1, the Premier League’s board has the power to inquire about any suspected breach of rules, including those made by a match official, while rule N4 ensures that each match official agrees to be bound by the laws of the game as well as any protocols and FA rules.
“There is therefore a possibility that Liverpool could lobby the Premier League board to convene a commission which would have the power, among others, to order the match to be replayed.
“To mount a general legal case outside of the Premier League regulations, a starting point would normally have to be to establish a contractual nexus between the club and the officials that has been breached or a duty of care and negligence causing loss."
However, Liverpool are thought to only be able to assess the impact of the decision come the end of the season. It would likewise be very difficult to prove that the error cost them points in a legal sense, due to the infinite scenarios that could have emerged if the goal had stood.
There has been plenty of uproar since the release of the audio on Tuesday evening. It showcased the voices of the linesman, who flagged for offside, and both the VAR and assistant VAR, who checked the lines and found quickly that Diaz was onside. One of the officials could be heard swearing before saying they couldn't take any further action after the game had been restarted with a Spurs free-kick.
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