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Premier League clubs vote overwhelmingly to retain controversial VAR, call for improvements

In a decisive move, Premier League clubs on Thursday collectively opted to retain the controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system for the upcoming seasons.

football Premier League clubs vote overwhelmingly to retain controversial VAR, call for improvements snt
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First Published Jun 6, 2024, 6:32 PM IST

In a decisive move, Premier League clubs on Thursday collectively opted to retain the controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system for the upcoming seasons. The decision comes after a vote in which 19 clubs supported the continuation of VAR, with Wolves standing as the sole advocate for its removal.

The decision, announced by the Premier League, signals a recognition among clubs that while VAR has its flaws, it also brings about more accurate decision-making in crucial moments of the game.

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

"As part of thorough discussions at the Annual General Meeting, it was agreed that PGMOL, the Premier League and clubs all have important roles to play in improving the system and its reputation," the statement added.

A significant change will be the implementation of semi-automated offside technology starting in October, aimed at minimizing the delays in decision-making that have caused disruptions during matches. Additionally, the league has pledged to launch a new communication campaign targeting fans and stakeholders to improve understanding of VAR's purpose and application.

As part of ongoing work to improve VAR, six key areas were focused on as part of discussions with clubs, the Premier League said in its statement.

1) Maintaining a high threshold for VAR intervention to deliver greater consistency and less interruptions to the flow of the game.

2) Reducing delays to the game, primarily through the introduction of semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) and the maintained high threshold for VAR intervention.

3) Improving fan experience through a reduction in the delays, in-stadium announcements from referees after a post-VAR change of decision and where possible, an enhanced offering of big screen replays to include all VAR interventions.

4) Working with PGMOL on the implementation of more robust VAR training to improve consistency, including an emphasis on speed of process while preserving accuracy.

5) Increasing transparency and communication around VAR – including expanded communications from Premier League Match Centre and through broadcast programming such as "Match Officials Mic’d Up".

6) The delivery of a fan and stakeholder VAR communication campaign, which will seek to further clarify VAR’s role in the game to participants and supporters.

In April, it was officially announced that Semi-Automated Offside Technology will debut in the autumn of 2024.

"The technology will provide quicker and consistent placement of the virtual offside line, based on optical player tracking, and will produce high-quality broadcast graphics to ensure an enhanced in-stadium and broadcast experience for supporters," the league added in its statement.

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