The referee in tonight’s FA Cup third round tie between Brighton and Crystal Palace will not only be helped by two assistants, a fourth official whose main role appears to be holding up the added time and subs board but a video assistant referee. The facility is being used for the first time in a competitive match in England but this is a recipe for disaster. A goal has huge scarcity value in football and that climactic moment could be spoilt if the natural flow is stopped because the VAR is being consulted. The top refs get 96% of decisions correct so the whole dynamic of the sport is being destroyed for 1 in 25 calls that are wrong. It’s 6/4 with Ladbrokes that VAR technology will be used in the Premier League next season.
Palace made the worst start in the history of the Premier League this season but ex-England manager Roy Hodgson has made a huge difference. The away side reached the final of the FA Cup two years ago while they were facing relegation issues and they have a stronger squad this time. For a team that couldn’t score a league goal in August and September it’s a huge turnaround to lose just one of their last 11 matches. Brighton have not reached the fourth round in three seasons under the current manager and the second string played in the EFL Cup. Both teams are fighting for Premier League survival but PALACE have a squad more capable of competing on both fronts so they should be backed at 15/8 with Betfair to beat Brighton tonight.
Hereford has been abandoned today which means the only definite turf meeting is at Fontwell and they are racing on the All Weather at Wolverhampton. The 14 races in total at these two tracks offer £107,000 in prize money which is derisory. That means most of the owners represented today will be losing money running their horses but a multi-billion industry feeds of those horses providing betting action. The richest race at Fontwell is a tricky handicap hurdle at 2.45pm. HIT THE HIGHWAY is top rated and is proven in the mud. The horse should relish the heavy condition and looks a big price at 7/1 with William Hill to win today.