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Revealed size of unexpected bills Rochdale and Oxford had to pay for VAR at Newcastle United matches

2 months ago
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For many lower league clubs, they have had their first experience of VAR these past five weeks.

If playing away to Premier League clubs in the FA Cup, those in the lower divisions, even non-league, ‘enjoying’ the benefits of the Video Assistant Referee system which is now used in the top tier, as from this season.

The lower league clubs having no choice in the matter, as the FA rulebook states VAR must be used in FA Cup matches where PL clubs are at home.

However, an interesting one from Kieran Maguire, who lectures in football finance at Liverpool University and also has his own Price Of Football website.

As Kieran points out that the use of VAR is not the only thing the lower league clubs didn’t have a choice about.

Both Rochdale and Oxford have played at St James Park this season and according to the football finance expert, didn’t realise before this season’s competition, that they would be charged for the use of VAR.

It turns out that every one of these FA Cup games where VAR is used, sees a charge of £9,251 + VAT made by PGMOL.

That VAR money is deducted from the gate receipts amongst other expense, before the money left over is shared 45% for each club and 10% into the central pot to help fund the prize money.

So in effect, clubs such as Rochdale and Oxford (as well as Newcastle) have lost out on almost £5,000 each due to VAR, when they played at St James Park.

I wonder what they would have decided if given the choice of VAR to be used or not in these FA Cup matches?

The thing is as well, is that it is not a level playing field, whilst VAR is used in every Premier League match, it is only used in a minority of FA Cup games, only those when PL clubs host games.

With tickets costing £10 and £5 concessions, you probably had the sales of around 3,000 ticket across the Rochdale and Oxford matches to pay for VAR been used. For clubs at the bottom end who look to the FA Cup as a major chance of an injection of funds, is VAR really value for money in the FA Cup?

Kieran Maguire:

Rochdale, Sheffield Wednesday, Oxford, Tranmere, Shrewsbury, Peterborough, Huddersfield, Luton, Port Vale, Wigan, Forest, Boro, Fylde, Derby, Leeds all had FA Cup matches this season away to PL clubs. They didn’t realise that they had to pay 50% of the VAR bill of £9251.’

Kieran quoting from the competition rulebook:

‘Pursuant to Rule 13(h) of the Rules of the Competition, VAR shall be in use in Emirates FA Cup matches that are played at the grounds of Premier League Clubs during this season’s competition.

The total cost for the use of VAR in each match shall be £9,251.00 + VAT and this amount shall be deducted as a match expense in accordance with FA Cup Rule 23(J).

Payment shall be made to the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (“PGMOL”) via the Premier League who shall invoice the relevant home Club on conclusion of each match.’

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