Premier League could scrap VAR as clubs asked to vote on technology’s future

Steven Chicken
A VAR check in progress
Premier League clubs will vote on whether or not to keep VAR for the 2024/25 season

Premier League clubs will vote on whether VAR should be scrapped for the new season next month after Wolverhampton Wanderers submitted the matter for debate.

Video technology was introduced to the Premier League from 2019/20 having previously been used at the 2018 World Cup and in the 2018/19 Champions League, following calls for clear and obvious officiating errors to be able to be corrected mid-match.

VAR use faces Premier League vote

But its implementation has consistently been criticised for creating as many problems as it solves.

Long delays in making decisions have been commonplace since VAR came in, although it emerged last month that the Premier League intends to introduce ‘semi-automated offside’ technology next season to speed up marginal offside calls. Effectively a computer draws the lines instead of the officials in the VAR room drawing them manually.

But that’s not the end of the criticisms, with the PGMOL – the body in charge of referees in England – having to admit that several VAR calls this season have been erroneous.

That has included Andre Onana escaping a red card for clattering Sasa Kalajdzic against Wolves on the opening day, Luis Diaz having a goal erroneously disallowed against Tottenham in September, and one of the penalties Nottingham Forest claimed for against Everton last month.

That has left many fans – and evidently at least one club – wondering if VAR is really worth the faff anymore, or whether we should return to a simpler time when the officials’ on-pitch decisions were considered final.

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According the Athletic’s David Ornstein, the proposal will be added to the agenda for the Premier League AGM, which will be held on Thursday 6th June. At least 14 of the Premier League’s 20 clubs would have to vote in favour of scrapping VAR for it to actually happen.

All of Europe’s top 30 elite leagues use VAR except for Sweden, who chose not to adopt it after protests from supporters that it would make games rubbish to watch.

Refereeing supremo Howard Webb warned earlier this season that removing the technology would be a mis-step.

He said in December: “[It] would be foolish to take away a tool that can remove clear errors from the game – almost 40 this season. Usually we have seen around 100 situations rectified through the use of VAR. Why would you want to take that away and leave those errors in the game?

“I understand delays can cause frustration but sometimes they are unavoidable when you are doing the job diligently.

‘It protects the game from some clear errors and the thought of going into some big games without that facility there, I don’t think many referees would want that.”