I think it was Tony Pulis in 2012 who first put it in my mind that officiating and game management were fixable. It’s always been a challenge. Until that point, I had spent most of my life shrugging and saying “That’s just how the game is played.” Missed calls, red cards that should be yellow, or yellow cards that should be red are issues that have always been a part of the game. In recent years, we have seen the addition of technology assistance. VAR, goal-line technology, and soon-to-be-added semi-automated offside tech (which I argued for in my very first article for American Scouser) added to the game we love.

Other ideas have been kicked around to help address issues that plague the game we love. Sin bins, five subs, blue cards, synchronized start times, and more loom. Some of the above had hesitant adoptions at first, but now play an important role in creating a positive sports-watching experience. Let’s throw another hat into the ring: a coach’s challenge.

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The Challenge Proposal

Then Stoke boss Pulis suggested a system that gave each coach two red challenge flags. Once per half, a manager could challenge a call on the field. There would be a request to the head referee to take 30 seconds and confer with replay officials. At most, Pulis’ plan would take a minute per half if both coaches used both of their flags.

Are you worried about this interrupting the “flow of the game?” The implementation of VAR shows how an interruption to ensure accurate results works. This would give coaches a way to insist that refs go to the monitor to check the accuracy of their calls. Arguably the calls that have cost us the most would have benefited from an enforced 30 seconds of review.

ASTV Shorts: Yet Another VAR Discussion

Diaz’s goal disallowed versus Tottenham. Odegaard’s NBA tryouts that denied us a penalty versus Arsenal. The kung fu kick Mac Allister took versus City deemed to be nothing. When I watched back the replay of the Tottenham game with the VAR audio overlaid it was infuriating. The response to an obvious error was “It’s too late.” It wouldn’t be if you had a challenge flag!

Klopp Chimed In As Well

Pulis isn’t the only coach to have mused about adding a coach’s challenge. Jurgen Klopp also called for some sort of challenge system. Speaking with German football magazine Kicker in 2023, Klopp said the idea of a coach formally challenging a contentious call has worked in other sports.

“A challenge would be a solution to avoid something like that happening again in the future.” Klopp added that it could be “an interesting idea for football.”

He went on to say “There are many good examples of how this can work.” “In field hockey, for instance, the challenge has long proven its worth.” This was in response to a botched call in a Dortmund draw the same season Klopp got in hot water with the FA for calling out Paul Tierney after a contentious 4-3 game against Spurs.

Shaping It To Fit Football

Admittedly, the system itself would need work. With so many other sports having coaches challenge systems with different styles to experiment with. How many challenges should there be? One challenge per half, three challenges per match? Do you retain your challenge if you are successful? Do you restrict the type of calls available for a challenge like we already do for VAR?


With that caveat, that would mean challenges would only be available for card instances and goals. I think a restriction would need to be implemented to keep challenges from being thrown out of pure frustration or a “tactical foul” that interrupts an opponent’s advantage.

In a time where we are seeing a new addition to the game with semi-automated offsides being finally brought in, why not roll the dice and add something that has a definite upside? We all want to see more accurate calls in our game. PGMOL and others argue that the problems are being talked about and that training and discussions are being put in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. A coach’s challenge would give teams a way to keep officials accountable for the commitment to change and help to catch any human mistakes that might crop up.

What are your thoughts?

Ugly Crying and Tissues American Scouser Podcast

We think there was a game this weekend as well but the main topic of course is Klopp's farewell
  1. Ugly Crying and Tissues
  2. Two Week Notice
  3. Having Fun Again
  4. The Turkish Rodeo
  5. Glimpse of Hope