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Graham Scott missing appointment for Chelsea match proves VAR leaves referees stretched

Keith Hackett
Referee Graham Scott gestures during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Leicester City - Getty Images Europe

The referee Graham Scott’s failure to make it to Stamford Bridge in time to officiate Chelsea’s draw with Leicester City on Sunday was an embarrassing episode. The reason for his delay was not clear on Sunday night, although there were reports that he was caught up in traffic following an accident.

Usually, if a referee was to blame for not making it to the ground in good time, they would risk a financial or professional punishment, with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited removing them from the next round of fixtures.  

The incident highlights a broader problem facing the PGMOL with the introduction of the video assistant referee this season. Scott was the VAR at Stockley Park for Manchester City’s match with Tottenham Hotspur’s on Saturday.

He was not alone in covering two jobs this weekend, with Martin Atkinson and Mike Dean, for example, both officiating a match and acting as VAR.

In other words, the elite group of Premier League referees have been given an extra responsibility without increased support. The number of officials in the group has remained the same. 

This lack of depth was further highlighted by Oliver Langford replacing Scott. Langford is experienced at Championship level but was thrown in at the deep end. He delivered a fine performance.

Keith Hackett’s e-book, You are the Ref, is out now