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A-League better off without VAR: Bolton

Former Socceroo and A-League goalkeeper Clint Bolton says the game is better off without the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) after yet another A-League Grand Final was blighted by a controversial call on Sunday night.

Melbourne City’s Harrison Delbridge appeared to put his side ahead in the 20th minute, only for the goal to be overturned after a VAR check from match official Chris Beath.

In a controversial decision, it was ruled that Lachlan Wales was in front of Sky Blues keeper Andrew Redmayne in an offside position and blocked his view.

Speaking on Sports Drive on Monday, Bolton said it was tough call for referee Beath to make in real time.

“I find it really tough to go one way or the other to be quite honest. I think in normal motion when I got a decent replay I thought Andrew (Redmayne) was obstructed to some degree,” he said.

“The problem with the VAR is that they slow it down frame by frame and you lose all context. In a lot of ways when I saw it on VAR I thought the goal could stand.

Bolton said there was too much grey area involved with the VAR system.

“It’s strange that you can have one official on the field giving the goal, and then go to another official off the field in the VAR and they overturn a decision that could go either way,” he said.

“How can you really overturn a decision that was already given on the field? I just find that part of it really strange.”

The A-League only reintroduced the controversial system for the finals series, having not had VAR for the home and away matches that completed the regular season.

Bolton said that the competition was better off without the drama the system created.

“It was just football the way I used to remember it (A-League games without VAR) the way I grew up with it, no slowing down of the game, no extra interpretation, no second guessing, no not being able to celebrate goals. Let’s get on with it.” He said.

“Decisions sometimes will go against you, sometimes they go for you. I remember that as a player. It’s the same as a fan. When they said they were going to have if for the finals I just thought for pete’s sake, it’s been so good without it. Unfortunately, I think the VAR is here to stay.”

Bolton, who represented both Sydney FC and Melbourne City (known as Melbourne Heart at the time) during his 502 game professional career was full of praise for Rhyan Grant, who scored the Grand Final clinching goal and was awarded the Joe Marston Medal as the player best afield.

“He’s just a workhorse,” he said.

“Most games he plays in he’s up there for MOM awards all the time. He’s just a relentless runner, he made some big defensive moments late in the game with a couple of interceptions. You couldn’t argue with that.”

The Sky Blues have now won five A-League premierships, having gone back to back with their triumph over City


A decision on the 2020-21 season’s start date will be made over the coming months, with the likelihood of a winter season move for the competition.



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