Prem panel backs VAR over Wolves controversy against Fulham

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The Premier League's Independent Key Match Incidents Panel has said Stuart Attwell got all VAR decisions correct in Fulham's controversial 3-2 win at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday.

The findings, seen by ESPN, state that referee Michael Salisbury made two errors that went against Wolves, but those mistakes were not clear and obvious for the VAR to intervene.

Wolves boss Gary O'Neil was fuming after the game, believing Fulham's first penalty should have been overturned by the VAR while the home side's stoppage-time match-winning spot kick should not have been given on review. He also felt Carlos Vinicius should have been sent off for a headbutt on Max Kilman, and Tim Ream shown a second yellow card for the foul on Hwang Hee-Chan which gave Wolves their penalty.

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Fulham went 2-1 up on 59 minutes through Willian's first penalty after a Nélson Semedo challenge on Tom Cairney. Contact appeared to be minimal, and O'Neil said Salisbury told him afterwards he "regrets the fact that he wasn't sent to the screen" to overturn it. But the panel backed Attwell's decision not to intervene on a split 3-2 vote, saying it was not a clear and obvious error.

Shortly afterwards Wolves were given the chance to equalise when Ream, who was on a yellow card, brought down Hwang, and it was said the challenge didn't come under the definition of denying a goal-scoring opportunity so shouldn't be a second caution.

In the 88th minute, Vinicius appeared to place his head into Kilman as he stood up. Again it was a split 3-2 vote backing the VAR's decision not to advise a red card for violent conduct as it was not a clear and obvious error. It's the third time this season Vinicius has escaped a red card for a violent act.

Fulham won the game deep into added time when Harry Wilson ran across João Gomes and went to ground inside the area. Attwell told Salisbury to go to the monitor to change his decision, and Willian stepped up to win the game. The panel voted 4-1 that this was correct use of VAR, as there was "evidence of upper leg contact."

However, the panel believe Salisbury shouldn't have given the first penalty (4-1 vote) and should have sent off Vinicius (3-2 vote), as well as giving the injury-time penalty.

The panel has five members, made up of three former players and/or coaches, plus one representative each from the Premier League and PGMOL. It was set up at the start of last season to give an independent assessment of decision-making rather than relying on the views of PGMOL or the clubs themselves. The judgement is intended to provide an arm's-length assessment of all major match incidents.

Wolves have been on the wrong end of a series of poor VAR decisions this season, leading to O'Neil's exasperation with the process.

"We're probably seven points down on PGMOL reviews, depending on what they come back with this time," he said. "So that's the difference between 22 points and 15 on my reputation at a big club, trying to build as a new manager. The difference between 15 and 22 is irreparable.

"Maybe with just a human referee one of the penalties may have gone against us, but the fact that we have conceded two, for me VAR is not helping with subjective decisions. Maybe tonight has finally turned me against VAR."

Wolves have had three VAR errors logged against them this season. They should have been given an injury-time penalty in a 1-0 loss at Manchester United in the opening weekend, while incorrect spot kicks were given to Newcastle United (drew 2-2) and Sheffield United (injury time winner for 2-1) before the international break.

It's the second gameweek in a row that the panel has logged no errors by the VAR, though it felt referee Sam Barrott should have awarded a spot kick on the field to Burnley for Vladimír Coufal's trip on Luca Koleosho. All other decisions and VAR interventions were deemed to be correct.

The VAR penalty given to Nottingham Forest against Brighton, when Jack Hinshelwood was adjudged to have held back Callum Hudson-Odoi, was only supported on a 3-2 split vote with two members believing there was "not sustained holding and that the situation was not clear and obvious."

Across the season so far, the panel has logged two incorrect interventions, one wrong rejected overturn and 13 missed interventions across the first 13 gameweeks.

The panel also ruled Newcastle United's controversial winning goal against Arsenal was not a mistake.