Newcastle Jets’ Coach, Ernie Merrick has been officially contacted by Football Federation Australia (FFA) in relation to comments made following his side’s clash with the Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend.
The controversial Round 20 Hyundai A-League fixture became a talking point across the league, thanks to a number of contentious decisions as well as the regular involvement of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Merrick now has seven days to respond to the alleged breaches of the National Code of Conduct and says he will be making a submission to the game’s governing body.
“I’m looking forward to making my submission to the FFA,” said Merrick.
“I think that it’s important that I make a representation on behalf of our club and our fans in regards to the way the game was officiated last Friday night.”
Merrick said that he understood the FFA’s need to respond to his comments and was more interested in turning the conversation to the application of the VAR moving forward.
“I want to reiterate my support for the VAR, which I have been a fan of from the beginning – I think it’s a real positive for our game and the way it can be officiated,” added Merrick.
“My greatest concern from this season and particularly Friday night, is the application of this technology as there seems to be confusion amongst coaches, players and even the referees themselves about how this system is applied.”
Merrick said that it was important that a clear decision-making framework be implemented to allow the VAR to be successful long term.
“From my perspective it seems that the involvement of the VAR can come about in a number of different ways; whether the on-field referee requests it, players protest or the VAR just injects itself – all examples that we saw on Friday night,” said Merrick.
“This lack of consistency around the application of the VAR and its influence over the on-field referee unfortunately leads us to having these conversations, as opposed to talking about two wonderful goals from Dimi (Petratos) and Andrew (Nabbout).”
Merrick acknowledged the FFA’s response in relation to the controversy surrounding the Round 20 fixture.
“The FFA have already came out and said that the decision in relation to the second penalty (Topor-Stanley handball) was incorrect and I applaud them for that,” added Merrick.
“I think the third goal which was chalked off, really typifies the issues the league currently has with the VAR and its involvement in key decisions during a match.
“There must be a clearer definition on the role of the VAR, because while it is an important addition to our game, I also believe the guy in the middle of the park needs to maintain control of the game and the way in which decisions are made.
“We are at the forefront of this new technology and it’s integration into football in Australia, it won’t be a simple process but we must ask difficult questions to ensure it is applied correctly.
“We need the FFA, the referees and the clubs all on the same page as we approach the finals to avoid incidents like this reoccurring.”