FOOD & DRINKSPORTS

Could VAR settle disputes at the bar?

Brewer uses ‘stars’ of north London derby to find out

Here’s a thought – could we use VAR (video assistant referee) to decide who is first to the bar in our pubs and avoid the “I was here before you” confrontations? Sound a bit far-fetched? Well, ahead of the north London derby Greene King decided to have a bit of fun and put it to the test.

The managed pub company and brewer linked up convincing doubles of Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and Spurs’ Harry Kane to see who would win a race to the bar while TV pundit Kammy (Chris Kamara) looked on.

See who won in the video (below).

Kamara also shares his thoughts on the big Sunday match though he doesn’t exactly say who he thinks will win and he voices his opinions on the impact of VAR on the Premier League.

Greene King has carried out some research on VAR. In it they found that nearlyhalf of the nation are a lovers of the game (49%). However, it’s young Brits who are embracing the introduction of the VAR technology.

Just more than half (51%) of 18-34-year-olds think VAR ensures a fair decision, 48% think it stops injustices within the game, while over a quarter (27%) think it provides more excitement for fans. Only 12% of 18-34-year-olds believe VAR hasn’t brought any benefits to football.

Almost a quarter of Brits (22%), believe VAR has slowed down the game, while 14% think it has taken the fun out of the game for fans.

On a purely personal note, I think it adds to the excitement. Even when the ball goes into your team’s net fans can cling to the hope that it might be disallowed. In other sports that support video replays, such as cricket and rugby union, I think replays can add to the drama. It’s difficult to imagine either sport without them now.

In honour of VAR and the return of the Premier League, Greene King, which has more than 1,000 pubs showing the football matches, has created the world’s first VAR-BAR at The Griffin Pub in Leeds. Not London? What were they thinking?

The VAR-BAR is being trialled to aid pub staff in deciding who’s next in line to be served at the bar, avoiding any disgruntled punters, and was put to the test by Kamara.

Chris Kamara said:I had great fun playing referee behind the VAR-BAR at Greene King. While controversial, VAR is an important innovation that’s not only helping the performance of the game but in Greene King’s case – helping football fans get to the bar quicker!”

Chris Conchie, brand controller for sport at Greene King, said: “The great thing about watching the Premier League games at the pub is the banter and debate you get to have with your mates, and we’re already seeing a lot of discussion about the introduction of VAR that’s dividing the nation this season. But there’s no denying it’s improved the accuracy of the game, which is where our idea came from to trial the world’s first VAR-BAR to support bar management.”

Love it, or hate it, VAR is what a third (33%) of football fans spend most of their time discussing when it comes to the sport, followed by handball rules (30%) and goalkeeping rules (18%), and nearly a fifth of Brits (19%) believe VAR has been good for the sport, thinking the technology provides more excitement for football fans.

A talking point across the country, football fans from the north-west are the biggest advocates for VAR. Two-fifths (40%) believe VAR has been the most positive innovation and introduction to the game, followed by 36% in the south-east and 35% of fans from Yorkshire.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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