The Mailbox has got a case of the BT Sports

BT Sport couldn’t resist talking VAR and neither can the contributors to the Mailbox. Keep your thoughts coming to


The application of VAR is really sh*t isn’t it?

Now essentially, instead of having one sh*t ref taking a subjective view of an incident we have two sh*t refs taking a subjective view of an incident. It doesn’t really result in significantly better decision making for the debatable incidents but does take up more time. For offsides it’s pretty decent but could be automated to be even faster I bet. Automated offsides would also put an end to this stupid thing where play goes on and then the linesman flags after a keeper has smashed someone or some poor kid has broken their leg.

It’s basically pointless having VAR if the referees aren’t competent enough to referee a football game.

VAR also doesn’t really require match fitness so why not get Webb, Clattenburg or any other top ex referees to be involved? At the momentit’s two mates from the same team who basically don’t want to rock the boat. Might be better to have a separate group of VARs who have no associations with the select group that go on field each week. This might result in better quality decision making as both groups will be more comfortable questioning the other.

This all said, the Arsenal vs Man City game was brilliant. Arsenal deserved a lot more and should hold their heads high. They went toe to toe and looked the better team. On another day they get their penalty and see it out.
Minty, LFC

READ MORE: BT Sport failed us all on Arsenal v Manchester City


It’s not that VAR makes mistakes, it’s the infuriating inconsistency that boils the piss. Watford v Spurs should have seen 2 pens at either end but if not given, the fans from both sides can’t complain about being treated unfairly. Contrast that to the City v Arsenal, how Ederson gets away with his brain farts is anybody’s guess.

First Newcastle and then against Arsenal the guy can pretty much decapitate the attackers in the box and still won’t give a pen. Combine that with the fact that Rodri went the whole game without any yellow and you see why Arsenal lost their collective heads.

Shame the gunners didn’t get anything because they were worthy of a point at least. The first team this season who genuinely hassled and harried City. The blues couldn’t live with them in the first half and should have been 2-0 down.

Replacing Lacazette next season will be a tough ask for the Gunners but Martinelli and Saka were phenomenal today. Even with 10 men, these 2 were a constant threat

Surely the time has come where the players and managers can have a go at the VAR? The reasoning behind insulating criticism of on field refrees is understable but the ones tucked far away who continue to f*ck up with their decisions surely can at the very least be criticized?

The top 4 : Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs (Yes, City are probably winning this year)
Vikas, LFC, India


Corrupt referees
Over the last couple of weeks, football fans on this site and many other forums have lamented about refereeing. The most vociferous coming after the Liverpool v Tottenham game.  I did not watch that game in full, just watched the highlights, so I didn’t think it was appropriate to comment on snapshots. I however did watch the Arsenal v Man City game and that was atrocious refereeing. At the beginning, I thought Man City were fouling so much to disrupt Arsenal, Rodri should have had a yellow within 15 minutes. In the back of my mind I’m thinking, this ref is letting challenges slide , letting the game flow, ok. Arsenal earn what looks like a penalty, to most people at least , not given. In the back of my mind, you really have to get injured to get anything from this ref. Good. Second half, it was some Italian level of corrupt refereeing, Arsenal caught no break. Yellow cards to Arsenal players, that penalty, which was clearly a dive, Silva threw himself to the ground. He was on the air, on the way to the ground, when he short got rugged.  What follows is a slew of Arsenal players getting yellow carded. To the point where one gets a red card a few minutes later. The ref just gave him a soft yellow for petulance, for what looked like a dive, you would think the sensible thing is to give the player a hard talking to, avoid a send off, keep the game neutral, because he had given the other team multiple breaks in the first half. Not this ref, this one decides, straight yellow, equals red card. Within a span of less than 10 minutes, he decided the game.  To add insult to injury, the guy who should have been on a yellow from minute 15 scores the winner.
The final one, and I have always felt this, some of these refs tend to even it out despite having disadvantaged a team the entire game. So at the very end, a team like Man U, City, Liverpool will receive a couple of yellows after minute 85, but the opposition has had to play with 3 or 4 yellows for 70 odd minutes. At the end, it reads, yellows, Arsenal 3, City 2. Not bad statically, but when you factor when they were given, it matters.I do think , poor referring should be punished if the league is to improve. It’s becoming farcical. They should be able to improve their craft, and if they can’t, they should be replaceable. The epl is big enough, it should be able to have international refs if that’s what it takes.
Dave(Have them ref in the championship for a few weeks, it’s be like sitting on the bench), Somewhere


Arsenal positives
While I think Arsenal have had more than their fair share of being on the wrong end of VAR and refereeing decisions over the years, the less said about this the better because nothing will change. Better to accentuate the positives, the things the club can, and have changed to make these decisions less of a factor.

City get an undeserved win. This young Arsenal team should use this to fuel the rest of their season. City claimed they were tired, had less time to prepare. Forgive me if I shed no tears. Who cares? Their bench was ridiculous.

We took a giant step today, a million miles away from the reverse fixture earlier this season. Even Xhaka was better here, though ultimately he cost us the game. Not just for the penalty (it was a penalty, Silva did dive and both can be true), but the aftermath as well because Gabriel picked up the first booking then. He was naive for the second and had to go. He gave Atwell no choice. He will learn. Xhaka, probably not.

The main thing is we stood toe to toe, and proved we could live with them.Those two incidents aside (the Odegaard penalty shout wasn’t as massive a turning point), you’d struggle to think of any point in the game where City seized control in their customary fashion.

This was a game where maybe losing in this manner is far more useful as motivation for the long term . Winning might have been another false dawn for a young team. I’m hugely encouraged for the second half of the season.
Tired (but hopeful) Gooner


Sh*t travelling fans
Sitting near the away end at Old Trafford, it’s struck me this season in particular just how shit travelling support is getting generally throughout the Premier League.

I sound like my Dad here with the good old days stuff, but when I first started going home and away it was all clever witty original chants about your own club and players, with a few spiteful cutting digs at the oppo thrown in for good measure. Now it’s just ripping off other club’s songs and inserting your own players name, and repeating the song you recentlyseen on twitter about the team you’re playing

Most away ends are boring these days and spend most of the game just singing about the opposition. We get the same witless recycled chants that the team the week before sang, and the team before them. Last night we had Burnley – who were probably the worst culprits so far – sing their version of the Ronaldo / bender/ offender song on repeat throughout and going ‘siiiuuu’ every time Ron misplaced a pass, more than any song about their own club, players or manager. And what’s them going on a bender got to do with Ronaldo’s alleged misdemeanours? Surely that’s just 2 different songs! Anyway, this was the same with others like Newcastle and Villa this season. All their songs were about Ronaldo.

We’re used to it at United. For as long as I can remember the away end buzz off themselves when they reel out ‘we support our local team’ and ‘Fergie’s right, your fans are shite’. Oh how we laugh when XXXX cockney club sing ‘we’ll race you back to London’ … like we’ve never heard it before and we’re all going to stand there enraged by such an allegation. I used to appreciate a humorous chant from the away end though, even if it was by a hated rival ripping us, and it was always the mark of a decent support. They seem to be few and far between these days though.
JC. Manchester


AFCON racism
Paul McDevitt, when your “It’s not racist” email harps on about African corruption (sorry, sub-Saharan African corruption) it doesn’t exactly add weight to your insistence that this isn’t a racial issue. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but corruption exists everywhere. Our own government has been robbing the nation blind during the pandemic. If you can only see corruption in African nations, and specifically sub-Saharan African nations, I’d suggest getting your eyes checked.


So Paul’s response to Ian Wright’s and Pat V’s statements saying that AFCON is probably the most disrespected tournament, with a tinge of racism due to players having to explain why it’s important to them to play, is to write a piece completely dissing the tournament as unworthy due to its comparisons to European football, it’s geography, its timing and all the while, adding some tinges of racism.

Literally everything you said is what he said is wrong.

Instead of looking into what he may be talking about, you decided to dig into the details of why African football isn’t great and the tournament’s timing is inconvenient, whilst painting the entire continent as corrupt.

Imagine asking Trent or Kane if they would represent England if Liverpool or Spurs had a game too? Should they F**k England, play for their club? What if they said no, are they traitors to the national team?

They didn’t say they’re trying to eliminate racism either, more that when Africans want to represent their country, at a time of inconvenience to the European leagues, that there is always push back and people like yourself diminishing African football and questioning will they play.

It’s no good, quality isn’t there, even if it was, they’re corrupt. Just pack it in.

One reason for some of the ‘lack of quality’ could be the fact that many African players who move to Europe for economic reasons can become naturalized in the European nation, to said nations benefit, and to the African origin nations’ demise. Remember the French stars of 98 of African descent. Did you know 87% of France’s winning team in 2018 came from direct or in-direct immegration as well. I don’t think any nation should be painted negatively just because they don’t have the same economic benefits as another.

I think you should have said ‘why people like me have disdain for AFCON.’

What other international tournaments have you a disdain for? Any? I imagine some Africans are tired of being told when and how often they should play, as if it is their former colonizers who get to say so.

In a typical response to a black person saying that something isn’t right, the response is to say ‘You’re wrong, be quiet, go focus on this and stop pestering us with your nonsense’. It’s very Marcus Rashford-y. Wright says there is a tinge of racism, you paint a continent as corrupt and of poor quality.

Calling a footballer a pawn of politics is the only corrupt thing I am seeing.
Calvino – Happy New Year
(Ps, I am fairly certain Paul is a Spurs or Everton fan, and thus, should be least affected by this tournament, and on top of that, your biggest rivals will be missing many key stars, so this tournament benefits you..)


Happy new year. I’m not going to write in and mock Arsenal fans for once (we all know what’s going to happen after they’ve cobbled together a few wins against rubbish sides).
No. I want to take aim at the magnificent ignorant bullshit that Paul McDevitt wrote in about Wrighty on AFCON. Paul’s breathtakingly imperialistic ignorance, is the reason Ian Wright said what he said. And why Wrighty is 100% spot on. I can’t be arsed to go through Paul’s Fake News Republican Party-style distortion bit by bit but main points:

1. His point about North African nations “doing better as they’re less corrupt”. This is a view based on fiction. It’s non-researched rubbish, like when anti-vaxxers present Fake viewpoints. He basically repeats discredited tropes about Black mainland Africa being unable to govern itself. Global corruption rankings have Rwanda FFS, Ghana, South Africa, Senegal and Namibia all as far less corrupt countries than Paul’s beloved Morocco, Algeria etc

2. Paul needs to read a history book. If these African countries are struggling under the weight of corruption and failed systems…I wonder how that came to be? Nothing to do with centuries of colonialism, western interference, etc? Ah right, I guess “they’re just that way”. “That stuff is over now”. I’m certain that having seen their resources plundered, and puppet dictators installed by ooooh…Britain, it’s definitely 100% down to “them Africans” that their footballing economies of scale aren’t at the level of their former colonial “masters”. LMFAO. What a ridiculous, typically ignorant view. Which overlooks that Western clubs continue to plunder Africa for all this talent, despite its “corruption”. And yet having plundered that talent, they push back when that talent tries to give back to their country of origin. It reminds me of when the GOP/Tories blame the poor for their own situation (while overlooking that they’ve continued to tread on them and deny them access to better opportunities).

3. Paul’s framing of “people have disdain for AFCON” says a lot. Reminds of when Trump would cite “people” with sod all sources (we all knew he just meant “white people I talk to”). Which “people” eh? No Paul. I know many, many “people” who adore AFCON and, far from disdain, they thoroughly embrace it. One problem mate: these people are often Black. So what you meant to write is “Many European/caucasian people have disdain for AFCON”. Because none of the Africans I know have that disdain. But their views are obviously irrelevant to Paul’s dumb-f*** imperialistic worldview, where the ingrate disloyal African subjects need to understand their subservience to watching dross like North Macedonia, Hungary, Wales and Finland, bore us to tears; as the UK media talk up Harry Maguire as Baresi. Pfffft.

4. Finally, to seal Paul’s idiot credentials, he used “FIFA coefficients “ as evidence of proficiency. This is like anti-vaxxers using 5 random deaths to trash an entire global vaccination drive. Selective crap. If FIFA coefficients are proof of proficiency, Belgium (never won a thing and never going to) and England (LOL) are better teams than European champions Italy. Right. And the worst Brazil team in a decade is superior to a France team who have won a WC and a Nations League in the past three years. Right. Got it.
Stewie Griffin (the constant ignorance is why racism in football will continue to be rife)


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