Premier League clubs vote in favour of keeping VAR

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Association, said "enormous changes" were needed to the current system because fans "cannot carry on like this."

Premier League clubs have voted by 19-1 in favour of keeping video assistant referees (VAR) next season.

Wolves triggered a vote on the use of VAR in the 2024-25 season after formally submitting a resolution to the Premier League in May.

In order for VAR to be scrapped, 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs needed to vote in favour of doing so.

But only Wolves voted in favour of the proposal as they failed to gain any support from other top flight clubs.

Wolves said they were “disappointed with the outcome of the vote” but welcomed the Premier League’s “commitment to improve VAR”.

The Premier League has come under increasing pressure to modify VAR, which was introduced at the start of the 2019-20 season.

Wolves listed nine reasons to support its proposal to ban VAR, including the impact on goal celebrations, hostility towards match officials and the length of time needed to reach decisions.

It was reaffirmed at the meeting that semi-automated offsides will be introduced at some point in the autumn, while the Premier League confirmed in-game VAR announcements will be put in place.

The in-game announcements, which were used during the 2023 women’s World Cup, will see referees explain post-VAR decisions to supporters in stadiums.

In addition, the Premier League said the “high threshold” bar for VAR officials to intervene over subjective on-field decisions would be maintained.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Association, said “enormous changes” were needed to the current system because fans “cannot carry on like this.”


Premier League has work to do


It is no surprise Wolves’ proposal to get rid of VAR was rejected.

Given the Premier League was committed to paying for it, whether they used it or not, any likelihood of clubs joining Wolves was non-existent.

However, Wolves’ secondary aim was to generate a wider debate and they have achieved that aim.

No-one, whether it is clubs, match officials or the Premier League, is happy with what is happening at the moment.

The Premier League wants greater transparency, which referees’ chief Howard Webb believes will lead to greater understanding of the decision-making process.

Clubs – and players – want better decisions more quickly.

The introduction of semi-automated offsides from next autumn should help achieve that.

League officials are stressing the technology, which has been tested and analysed during the current campaign, will not eliminate delays – but it should provide quicker decisions, particularly on the marginal calls, which seem to take forever at the moment.

The average reduction, it is being claimed, will be 31 seconds.

But there is still work to do. The Premier League needs to avoid finding itself in this position again, otherwise the vote might not be so clear-cut.

Original article published 06.06.2024 on the BBC Sport website.

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