Premier League clubs vote to retain VAR

rugby06 June 2024 17:00| © AFP
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English Premier League clubs have voted in favour of retaining the controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system next season.

It was reported that 19 of the 20 top-flight clubs voted to continue using VAR at the Premier League's annual general meeting in Harrogate on Thursday.

The BBC said only Wolves – who last month triggered the vote to scrap the much-maligned system – had backed its' abolition.

In order for VAR to be scrapped, 14 clubs needed to vote in favour of removing it.

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 at the start of the 2019-20 season with the aim of helping referees avoid clear and obvious errors that had marred matches in the past.

But there were numerous controversies surrounding VAR 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, Wolves expressed frustration at the outcome but welcomed the Premier League's desire to improve VAR.

"While we are disappointed with the outcome of the vote on the future of VAR at today's annual general meeting, we acknowledge and accept the decision made by our fellow clubs and we are reassured that the Premier League is taking the concerns of clubs and supporters seriously," a Wolves statement said.

"We welcome the commitment to improve VAR, particularly in areas that address delays, consistency, and fan experience.

"While we still believe that Premier League football would be superior without VAR, we think that these improvements are crucial for the integrity of the game and for enhancing the overall matchday experience for our supporters."


Forced to sit through lengthy VAR delays, often without an explanation for why the decision is being checked, supporters have been outspoken in their criticism of the system.

Malcolm Clarke, the chairman of the Football Supporters' Association, said: "Support for VAR has collapsed since its introduction into English football.

"It's clear that in its current form it has made the match a less enjoyable experience. So much so that more than two-thirds of supporters now say they are against it.

"There's a growing feeling from fans that the increase in decision-making accuracy is not a price worth paying for the huge impact VAR has had on the match-going experience.

"Enormous changes to the current system are required to improve things, particularly for supporters in stadiums. We cannot carry on like this."

The Premier League acknowledged VAR 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.

The average reduction in waiting for the VAR decision will be 31 seconds, according to reports.

In-stadium announcements will be made where an on-field decision is changed following a VAR intervention to keep fans informed.

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

The Premier League also 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.