Championship play-offs and VAR rules amid Daniel Farke's Leeds United frustration and promotion claim

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Daniel Farke felt Leeds United had a goal wrongly ruled out on Sunday at Carrow Road

Leeds United could have probably done with VAR on Sunday afternoon as they took on Norwich City in their Championship play-off semi-final first leg. The two sides played out a goalless draw at Carrow Road but the game wasn't without incident with Leeds feeling aggrieved about a couple of decisions made by the officiating team, led by referee Josh Smith, on the day.

Leeds saw a goal ruled out and a penalty shout dismissed in East Anglia, with the former incident leaving Farke feeling particularly hard done by. However, should Leeds do enough on Thursday night to progress to the play-off final, he will take comfort from the expectation that VAR will be in use at Wembley.

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VAR has been used in EFL play-off finals at Wembley since 2022 and there has been little to suggest that will change this time around, with video technology available and in place at the national stadium. As such, while VAR has its negatives, its presence should in theory rule out refereeing controversy in the final, with so much on the line for both teams. Of course, VAR will not be used on Thursday night with the system not in use at Championship grounds this season.

The first decision that Leeds felt went against them on Sunday came in the sixth minute as Wilfried Gnonto appeared to be pulled down by Norwich's Borja Sainz on the very edge of the box. Ultimately, the location of the incident didn't matter with Smith waving play on despite replays showing Sainz did not win the ball.

That came before Junior Firpo's disallowed goal, which was chalked off for an offside in the build-up, with Georginio Rutter adjudged to have strayed over the line. That's the one that Farke felt the need to vent about after the contest.

“Someone told me that Sky showed a picture where there’s proof it was offside. It’s not offside," Farke said.

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“We also have the rule that if you are in doubt you go in favour of the offensive team. It feels like this is not in place any more. I’m annoyed by this. We’re playing at the top level and small details make a difference. If you score it changes the whole picture. Everyone speaks about Wembley as a £100m game and at this level all these decisions have to be spot on.

Follow Farke’s men as they chase Championship promotion with the Yorkshire Evening Post’s free Leeds United emails. “It’s also important that the official isn’t perhaps scared that the whole stadium is moaning if they don’t give offside, so if in doubt they give it in favour of the home team. No, if you’re in doubt you give it in favour to the attacker. It’s definitely not offside if you have a look.

“I expect myself to be spot on with my decisions and my players as well. Sorry, if you want to be in charge of such a game, you have to do the same. I’m still very annoyed.”

Whether the decisions should have gone Leeds' way or not, the Whites have seen a number of errors made by officials over the course this season.

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"I have 12 apologising letters at home already during the season with offside goals and penalties not given," Farke added. "If we would have used VAR during this season we wouldn't be in the play-offs - we would have been promoted automatically."