VAR: Time to let Premier League referees do their job more with less pressure - Sue Smith

Fans often message me to say VAR is ruining our game but I do not think it is, it is the people operating it.

For years this country has had outstanding referees like Howard Webb and my Sky Sports colleague Dermot Gallagher but across the board are the current crop consistently good enough?

If not, why not?

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Some amateur leagues are struggling to find enough officials just to get games played. We need to encourage more young boys and girls to want to become referees.

The big screen shows the VAR decision to disallow a Leeds United goal for an offisde at West Ham United on January 16 Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

When I used to give talks in schools I would always say how brilliant it was to be a professional athlete but stress how many others ways they could get involved – as volunteers, officials, coaches and so on. In all the talks I did there was one girl who said she wanted to be a referee, as opposed to thousands of boys and girls wanting to be the next Harry Kane, Kelly Smith or Pep Guardiola.

People like me, who comment on refereeing decisions every Monday on Sky Sports, have to play our part.

It was great to see Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa say we needed to be more understanding and forgiving of mistakes by referees when he talked about VAR recently.

Players make lots of errors but it feels like they get forgotten much more quickly. A few weeks ago I wrote Marcus Rashford was not looking himself and a couple of goals later that is all forgotten.

Luke Ayling of Leeds United and Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen of West Ham United speak with referee Stuart Attwell as VAR looks at West Ham United's first goal during the FA Cup Third Round match at London Stadium on January 9. Picture: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Referees might make one mistake in every 10 decisions. If I only hit one out of every 10 shots off target, I would be made up.

I do not think I have ever heard – or said – a particular referee is having a good season. There was praise at the start of the season for letting games flow, but not for individuals.

A referee might have been brilliant in 50 games since a decision – even a correct one – which cost a particular team, but that is all those fans remember.

I also think it would be a good idea to have ex-players helping the VARs at Stockley Park.

Referee Michael Oliver consults VAR to decide on Aston Villa's Danny Ings' goal during the FA Cup third round match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on January 10. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

Referees know the game, and know the rules a lot better than former footballers but we have a different viewpoint and can see the tricks of the trade.

I never wanted to be an official when I hung my boots up but if I was asked to give my opinion to a VAR, I would be happy to.

I just feel VARs are looking for things that are not actually there because they are scared of getting things wrong.

Too often they seem to be checking for everything going way back.

It would also be much better if viewers and fans in the stadium could hear discussions with the VAR. It would help us understand their thought processes.

It feels like when referees are sent to the pitchside monitor they are under too much pressure to change their decision but I would like them to stick with what they saw more often.

Only overturning “clear and obvious” mistakes is a load of rubbish because a lot of the decisions are marginal. They should let them go. Offsides should be less strict too – thicker lines – to give more advantage to the attackers. It seems fairer than goals ruled out for a toenail.

I want referees allowed to officiate more because the majority are good at it.