Premier League clubs vote to retain VAR

AFP , Thursday 6 Jun 2024

English Premier League clubs voted on Thursday in favour of continuing to use the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system next season.

VAR checking for possible offside during a Premier League match

Although the statement did not contain figures for the ballot, held at the Premier League's annual general meeting, the BBC reported that 19 of the division's 20 clubs had voted to retain the controversial technology.

The BBC said only Wolves -- who last month called the vote to scrap the system -- had backed the abolition of VAR.

The Midlands club had accused VAR of "undermining the value of the Premier League brand" after another season of several debatable decisions.

VAR was introduced in the Premier League in 2019 with the aim of helping referees avoid clear and obvious errors that had marred matches in the past.

But there were numerous controversies surrounding the technology during the recently concluded 2023/24 campaign, with Premier League managers and fans growing increasingly vocal in their disdain for the system.

Following Thursday's vote, however, the Premier League acknowledged improvements were required.

"While VAR produces more accurate decision making, it was agreed that improvements should be made for the benefit of the game and supporters," the league said in a statement.

Semi-automated offside technology is set to be introduced next season in the hope this will reduce the length of time needed for offside checks, while in-stadium announcements will be made where an on-field decision is changed following a VAR intervention to keep fans at stadiums informed.

The Premier League said the "high threshold" for intervention would also be maintained.

And in an echo of how similar systems interact with spectators at cricket and rugby grounds, the Premier League added it hoped to offer big screen replays of all VAR interventions where possible.

League chiefs also said they would work with English football's referees' body, Professional Game Match Officials Limited, on "more robust" training to improve consistency, including an emphasis on speed in decision-making while preserving accuracy.

And the Premier League promised it would continue to lobby the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the sport's global rule-making body, to allow live video and audio broadcasts during VAR reviews.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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