Howard Webb offers final verdict on Newcastle-Arsenal VAR controversy

Howard Webb offers final verdict on Newcastle-Arsenal VAR controversy

Referee chief Howard Webb has defended the decision to allow Newcastle’s controversial winning goal against Arsenal this month, after the VAR audio of the incident was released on Tuesday night.

Anthony Gordon’s effort earned the Magpies a 1-0 win at St. James’s Park, with the goal given on-field and a VAR check on three different elements returning no evidence for the decision to be overturned.

VAR officials were asked to check whether the ball had gone out of play in the build-up, whether Joelinton had fouled Gabriel in assisting the goal and whether Gordon had been offside when finishing.

A lack of conclusive camera angles meant VAR did not overrule on either the potential offside or the tight byline call, with Webb claiming that the assistant referee’s real-time view will have been more accurate than anything available on replay.

“We see the ball getting very close to the line - don't forget we've got an assistant referee who is right in line, the ball hasn't got a lot of pace as it goes to the line, so he's looking right down the line better than any of our cameras,” Webb, the head of PGMOL, said on the Premier League’s Mic’d Up programme.

"And we know the ball is curved, so it can be overhanging the line and we need the evidence that it's out and we don't have that here.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta described the decision as “embarrassing" and "a disgrace", with Joelinton’s supposed push on Gabriel of particular grievance to many pundits.

However, Webb insisted that the incident was considered a subjective decision and did not meet the review threshold for a clear and obvious error.

“The ball comes over and Joelinton challenges Gabriel, could be a foul, might be a foul, the VAR decides that the evidence from the footage isn't clear enough to warrant and intervene with a recommendation for a review for a clear error,” he added.