Premier League Clubs Side With Referees and Back VAR Despite Fans’ Gripes
Premier League clubs have chosen to avoid drastic action over VAR, with only the smallest of tweaks in the communication of decisions expected before the season’s end.
The referee’s chief, Mike Riley, gave club executives an extensive briefing on the technology during a Premier League meeting in London on Thursday. A lengthy discussion followed, but the consensus among clubs remains in favor of video refereeing and the outcome of the meeting was more of the same.
The Premier League said in a statement: “The implementation of VAR was discussed at length and the Premier League and the Professional Game Match Officials Board committed to improving the consistency of decisions, speeding up processes and increasing communication to fans.”
The reaction to VAR among match-going fans has been strongly negative and the one change that is to be implemented from December will see extra captioning on graphics shown inside grounds while checks are in progress. Graphics that now read“checking penalty”, will be expanded to say, for example, “checking penalty – possible handball”.
In association with fans’ groups, research will be undertaken at the end of the season to gauge the extent of VAR’s popularity. Any more substantial changes, such as broadcasting communications between the referee and his video assistant, could not be implemented before next season as they would require change in the VAR protocols, a set of laws under the control of the International Football Associations Board.
The mood among clubs remains calm, with most still believing the technology is a good thing. Riley showed clubs data that showed refereeing accuracy in “key match incidents” has gone up from 82% last season to 91% this.
Speaking after the meeting, the West Ham co-chairman David Gold said: “VAR is alive and kicking. This is a brand new system and we are making good progress. We just have to be a bit more patient. We will get it right.”