Newcastle Jets coach Ernie Merrick could find himself in hot water for post-match comments slamming the performance of officials during his team's 2-2 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night.
In yet another match marred by farcical use of the Video Assistant Referee that brought play to a lengthy standstill on three occasions, the Wanderers were awarded a controversial penalty for a Jets handball from a deflection.
Merrick lashed out at the handling of the contest by officials and joined the chorus of football figures arguing that the VAR is turning fans away from football games. However, it was his condemnation of on-field referee Peter Green that could lead to Merrick having to explain himself to Football Federation Australia on Monday morning.
Merrick suggested Green relinquished control of the match to the VAR and labelled the performance "disgraceful". It is understood that comment in particular has drawn the ire of the FFA, rather than the criticism of the decisions and delays of the VAR.
Head of the A-League, Greg O'Rourke, contacted Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna after Merrick's post-match comments and will be seeking an explanation from the coach early in the week.
"FFA will review his post-match comments to understand if there will be any further action," O'Rourke said.
The VAR brought play back to intervene in three goal-scoring incidents, rubbing out a Wanderers goal for a marginal offside breach, awarding Western Sydney a highly contentious penalty initially waved away by the referee and cancelling out yet another unclear late goal for the Jets.
None of the decisions were blatantly wrong or clearly correct, and the intervention of the VAR on each occasion was to assist with unclear interpretations, potentially breaching its intended use. The VAR is only meant to intervene in cases of clear and obvious errors to redress 'howler' decisions made by officials.
Merrick led criticism of the VAR on Friday night after the draw at Spotless Stadium.
"The second half, I was more worried about the refereeing decision than I was about the opposition," Merrick said.
"Does the referee make decisions anymore or does he wait for the VAR to confirm everything? Because it's going to be a long drawn-out process to play a game of football. If that's the way things are going to go then I don't think many people are going to come and watch the game."
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Josep Gombau was also critical of the VAR and its disruption to play. In all, seven minutes of injury time were required.
"This is difficult because even our first goal is disallowed, even watching the image you are not sure if he's offside," Gombau said. "We are stopping so much of the game, maybe three times in a game which is a lot. After that, some decisions will benefit us, but we are using [the VAR] so much."