Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has described the potential adoption of video assistant referee (VAR) technology as an “incredibly dangerous road” for football to go down.
The Palace part-owner warned that football’s hold on TV audiences could be broken by adding breaks to a game at a time when attention spans are dwindling.
“I’m very worried about VAR,” said Parish at the Sport Industry Group Breakfast Club.
“I hate all these games that stop and start. I think we’re going down an incredibly dangerous road with this.
“If we’re talking about less attention span for people, the why would we want to make a 90 minute game 120 minutes because we’re wandering around with earpieces?”
VAR is currently only being trialled for four match-changing types of incident but Parish fears it being expanded in the future.
“My real problem with it [VAR] is we’ve got it for these four decisions at the moment but you know the answer to everything will be more VAR,” he said.
“We’ll say ‘Well, we’re getting these decisions right but we’re not getting those others right so why don’t we have VAR for those?’ Then it will be VAR for whether the goalkeeper’s taken six steps. I just can’t see an end to it.
“I would leave the game as it is.”
Parish also warned that the Premier League’s appeal to broadcasters could be threatened if games between the top six and the rest become more predictable.
The league’s six biggest clubs have lobbied for a greater slice of income from international TV rights by arguing that it is their global brands that attract fans, but Parish believes a greater disparity in wealth would threaten the league’s soap-opera like drama on match days.
“Every single thing like this in the end eats itself if it’s not careful,” he said.
“What happened in F1? The big teams got all the power, they demanded more and more money. Now you’ve got this spectacle where in the last two seasons there has been one team — two drivers — that has had any chance of winning and people are switching off.
“It [more TV money] makes hardly any difference to them, but it makes us [bottom 14 clubs] worse. And if it makes us worse, it devalues the league. And if it devalues the league, then in the end the pot at the top isn’t as big. So I just don’t see any logic in it.”
Although the Premier League’s domestic TV income appears to have stalled — the latest deal with Sky announced earlier this month will see the broadcaster save almost £200m a year — Parish believes English clubs could benefit.
“I think it will be good for football,” he said.
“We all waste lot of money in the Premier League because of this never-ending increase in TV income issue. I think a little tightening of the purse strings wouldn’t go amiss for everybody.”