VAR: Majority of Premier League clubs want to keep technology after Wolves proposal

by 24britishtvMay 16, 2024, noon 20
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The majority of Premier League clubs want to keep VAR after Wolves tabled a proposal to scrap the technology.

However, it doesn't mean the clubs are happy with it. They want significant improvements, but the Premier League says those are on the way for next season.

The majority of clubs accept the points Wolves have made, but feel scrapping VAR would be counterproductive and damage the standing of the Premier League.
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The proposal is due be heard at a shareholders' meeting on June 6 - but there isn't always definitely a vote at meetings.

What tends to happen is there is a discussion and during that it becomes clear whether there is enough support for a resolution to proceed to a vote.

Howard Webb gave a presentation at the Premier League shareholders' meeting on April 11, on semi-automated offside technology. Clubs voted unanimously to have it from next season.

He faced some pretty robust questioning about VAR and was challenged by Wolves chairman Jeff Shi.

Sky Sports News also understands the Premier League board is directly opposed to the proposal.

The Premier League recognises Wolves' right to make such a proposal, but it feels abolishing VAR would lead to many more incorrect decisions.

Premier League stats earlier this season showed correct decisions had increased from 82 to 96 per cent under VAR, with Tony Scholes, the Premier League's chief football officer, telling Sky Sports in February: "VAR is, and remains, a very effective tool in supporting the match officials on the pitch."

However, Scholes did admit: "We are doing too many checks, we're taking too long in doing them as well. It's to a degree understandable, given the level of scrutiny these guys are under. But the reviews are taking too long and it's affecting the flow of the game and we're extremely aware of that and the need to improve that speed while always maintaining the accuracy."

Meanwhile, Premier League officials believe the proposal would seriously impact it reputationally as one of the elite leagues in world football and would mean no semi-automated offsides or in-stadium announcements to the crowd that the top flight is pushing hard for.

A Premier League spokesperson said: "The Premier League can confirm it will facilitate a discussion on VAR with our clubs at the Annual General Meeting next month.

"Clubs are entitled to put forward proposals at shareholders' meetings and we acknowledge the concerns and issues around the use of VAR.

"However, the league fully supports the use of VAR and remains committed, alongside PGMOL, to make continued improvements to the system for the benefit of the game and fans."

Wolves have been on the end of several controversial refereeing decisions this season and believe the decision review system is "undermining the value of the Premier League brand".

However, they will need 13 of the other 19 clubs to agree with them and are likely to canvas other clubs in order to gain support between now and next month's meeting.

Wolves said in a statement: "The introduction of VAR in 2019/20 was a decision made in good faith and with the best interests of football and the Premier League at its heart.

"However, it has led to numerous unintended negative consequences that are damaging the relationship between fans and football, and undermining the value of the Premier League brand.

"The decision to table the resolution has come after careful consideration and with the utmost respect for the Premier League, PGMOL and our fellow competitors.

"There is no blame to be placed - we are all just looking for the best possible outcome for football - and all stakeholders have been working hard to try and make the introduction of additional technology a success.

"However, after five seasons of VAR in the Premier League it is time for a constructive and critical debate on its future.

"Our position is that the price we are paying for a small increase in accuracy is at odds with the spirit of our game, and as a result we should remove it from the 2024/25 season onwards."

Wolves have felt hard done by over a raft of decisions throughout the season, with boss Gary O'Neil regularly receiving apologetic phone calls from Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) chief Howard Webb.

They feel particular areas of concern are the impact on goal celebrations, the length of VAR checks and lack of communication in the stadium, a change from its original purpose of correcting clear and obvious errors and an erosion of the on-field referee's authority due to their reliance on VAR.

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