Bosses from goal line technology providers, HawkEye have issued a grovelling apology to Sheffield United, Aston Villa and the Premier League after the Blades were denied what appeared to be an obvious goal on the opening night of the resumption of the top flight.
Responding to the controversy in a post-match statement, HawkEye claimed that the players and goalpost had obscured the sightlines of seven cameras and insisted that the failure had never happened in more than 9,000 previous games.
‘During the first half of Aston Villa v Sheffield United match at Villa Park, there was a goal line incident where the ball was carried over the line by Aston Villa goalkeeper, No. 25 Nyland,’ they said.
‘The match officials did not receive a signal to the watch nor earpiece as per the Goal Decision System (GDS) protocol. The seven cameras located in the stands around the goal area were significantly occluded by the goalkeeper, defender, and goalpost.
‘This level of occlusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches that the Hawk-Eye Goal Line Technology system has been in operation.
‘The system was tested and proved functional prior to the start of the match in accordance with the IFAB Laws of The Game and confirmed as working by the match officials.
‘The system has remained functional throughout. Hawk-Eye unreservedly apologises to the Premier League, Sheffield United, and everyone affected by this incident.’
Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland flapped at a dangerous inswinging left-wing cross before seeming to carry the ball over the line when team-mate Keinan Davis bumped into him.
Fans and pundits were baffled as replays seemed to demonstrate that the ball had comfortably crossed the line and commentators questioned why a VAR check had not been carried out.
Speaking as the Premier League returned after a suspension of more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, former England and Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports: ‘Incredibly lucky – we normally talk about goalline technology as being perfect. You trust it, but it certainly wasn’t perfect here.
‘It went missing and Villa have got away with it.
‘It is a really spiteful ball in by Oli Norwood and very difficult to deal with. Nyland never looks comfortable for one second when it is coming in and he loses it for a second and then manages to get hold of it and then is pushed into his own goal.’
Ex-Villa midfielder Ian Taylor chuckled ruefully as his fellow pundit told him that his former side had ‘got away with one there, mate.’
‘It is never a goal, Jamie,’ laughed Taylor. ‘We have got away with one there.’
Redknapp added: ‘I cannot understand why they have not gone to VAR. I was over that side and it was the same passage of play.’
United’s official Twitter account attempted to see the funny side of an apparent error that has the potential to cost them dearly in their pursuit of qualifying for Europe in their first season in the Premier League after winning promotion from the Championship, cheerfully observing: ‘It wasn’t working.’
Visiting manager Chris Wilder was seen remonstrating with referee Michael Oliver in the tunnel at half-time as the United boss attempted to ascertain whether speculation that the technology, which tells the referee when the ball has crossed the line via his watch, had failed.
The Premier League has confirmed that Oliver’s watch did buzz at half-time after testing it rather than a delayed reaction to the first-half effort.
Sportsmail understands discussions are ongoing to find out what happened with regards to the goal.