Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Premier League clubs vote to retain VAR as Wolves rebellion fails

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 6 Jun 2024

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Premier League clubs have voted to continue using VAR in the competition, following a motion from Wolves to abolish it from the start of next season.

However, clubs have committed to tweaking the way VAR is operated “for the benefit of the game and supporters”.

VAR has been used in the Premier League since 2019, and though England’s top flight has published statistics to demonstrate increased accuracy in decision-making, it has continued to cause controversy.

Wolves were on the wrong end of several contentious decisions in 2023-24, starting from their opening game last August as Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) representative Jon Moss apologised for a failure to award them a penalty during a 1-0 loss to Manchester United.

In April, Wolves saw a potential stoppage-time equaliser against West Ham disallowed for a subjective offside call against Tawanda Chirewa, with boss Gary O’Neil given a one-match ban for a subsequent post-match outburst towards referee Tony Harrington.

Wolves brought the motion to abolish VAR forward at the league’s annual general meeting in Harrogate, saying the technology had been introduced “in good faith” but had damaged fans’ relationships with the game, led to accusations of corruption and diminished the accountability of officials.

However, they failed to garner any support for their position as all 19 of their rivals voted to keep VAR.

The clubs did, however, agree on a need to tweak VAR to improve the supporter experience, picking out six areas of focus.

In a statement, the league committed to “maintaining a high threshold” for VAR interventions, reducing delays through the introduction of semi-automated offside technology and exploring in-stadium announcements from referees.

The league also said “more robust” VAR training would be administered by PGMOL and pledged to improve transparency through expanded communications and broadcasts.

Finally, a “fan and stakeholder VAR communication campaign” will be established to clarify VAR’s role in the game.

Semi-automated offside technology will be introduced in the Premier League later this year, having already become a fixture in UEFA competitions and other divisions across the continent.

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