Key Talking Points As Video Assistant Referee Launches in FA Cup Bore

History was made in English football on Monday night (January 8) when a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system was used for the first time.

Brighton and Hove Albion's 2-1 FA Cup third-round victory over rivals Crystal Palace at the AmEx Stadium will be a game remembered forever due to use of the technology for the first time—but certainly not for the quality of the game.

Referee Andre Marriner didn't end up using the pitch-side monitor in a controversy-free game, while he kept in constant contact with VAR Neil Swarbrick who was based in a studio 50 miles north in West London.

So, although English football's new toy is yet to be used to its full extent, it is in action. Here, Newsweek takes a look at the key talking points on the subject during last nights game:

Relief for Commentators

BT Sport's Ian Darke and former Brighton defender Adam Virgo were stationed at the AmEx stadium to lead those sat at home through the game—which was fortunate given only 14,000 supporters turned up at the ground in the Sussex hills.

The inception of VAR was the hot topic on the south coast, discussed before, during and after the game. And this would have been a relief for Darke and Virgo, a subject to constantly return to, as the first 70 minutes of the match were monotonous.

Palace and Brighton's "M23 derby" usually takes place in the lower divisions of English football and that was where it belonged judging by the quality on show.

Did it Actually Make a Difference?

Controversy remained at the AmEx, however, as Glenn Murray's late winner was adjudged, by some, to have come off his arm as it beat Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennesey.

Roy Hodgson stood in his technical area berating the fourth official. The Palace players called for the goal to be disallowed.

Marriner appeared to speak to Swarbrick via his mouth-piece and, as no action was taken, the many watching were to assume there was no contact with the arm. But replay after replay was shown, and still it was unclear which part of the body the ball struck. Certainty, it seems, is still absent from football.

Video Assistant Referee
Cameraman films the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, England, January 8. VAR was used for the first time in the FA Cup on Monday (January 8). GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty

Purists Come Out on Top

Having been enraged by the late winner at pitchside, Hodgson had to return to his diplomatic best when in front of the cameras. "It was a genuine goal," he said after the game, still itching to return to the managers' default mode. "The referee was helped by the fact he had Swarbrick in the VAR studio making a judgement that'd help him out—so I have no complaints."

This, it seems, shows a clear victory for the purists. Mike Riley, the head of referees, expects 98 percent of decisions to be correct from now on, leaving little room for error. Little room for mistakes, for debate. What on Earth, then, will the subject of conversation have been as Palace fans headed back up the M23?

One in Three Wait

Excitement surrounding the new technology was tempered by the fact it was barely used. While Marriner was in frequent contact with Swarbrick, who was making sure no major errors were made, the referee never actually used the equipment on site.

Should uncertainty have crept into a decision surrounding a goal, a straight red card, a penalty, or a case of mistaken identity, Marriner would have been able to check a pitch-side monitor.

On average, VAR is used once in every three games. So with its next outing taking place in both legs of the League Cup semifinal between Arsenal and Chelsea, we could expect it to be used at the Emirates Stadium on January 24. Football, by then, will be perfect, right?