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Report: Could This Be the End of VAR in the Premier League?

Upcoming Vote on VAR Removal

Premier League clubs are set to vote on the removal of VAR from the next season, following a formal resolution submitted by Wolves. The decision will be made during the annual general meeting in Harrogate on 6 June, where any proposed rule changes require at least 14 out of the 20 member clubs to support the resolution.

Wolves have been at the centre of several controversial refereeing decisions this season and argue that the VAR system is “undermining the value of the Premier League brand.” In the run-up to the meeting, Wolves are expected to garner support from other clubs.

Wolves’ Stance on VAR

In a statement, Wolves expressed their concerns: “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.”

Wolves have underscored that the decision to propose the resolution came after careful consideration and with respect for the Premier League, PGMOL, and fellow competitors. They maintain that there is no blame to be placed and that all stakeholders have worked hard to integrate the technology. Yet, after five seasons, Wolves believe it is time for a constructive debate on VAR’s future.

Concerns Raised by Wolves

Several factors have contributed to Wolves’ position on VAR. Gary O’Neil, the club’s manager, has frequently received apologetic calls from PGMOL chief Howard Webb regarding decisions that negatively impacted the team. Key concerns include the effect on goal celebrations, the length of VAR checks, and insufficient communication within stadiums. Wolves argue that these issues stray from VAR’s original intent of correcting clear and obvious errors and diminish the authority of on-field referees.

Photo: IMAGO

“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 stated.

Premier League’s Position on VAR

A Premier League spokesperson confirmed, “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.”

The Premier League, in conjunction with PGMOL, believes that scrapping VAR would lead to an increase in incorrect decisions, potentially harming the league’s reputation further. The League maintains that continuous improvements to VAR will benefit both the game and its fans.

The Future of VAR in the Premier League

As the vote approaches, the debate around VAR’s future intensifies. While some clubs, like Wolves, feel the system has not delivered on its promises, others believe it is essential for maintaining the integrity of the game. The decision made in June will undoubtedly shape the landscape of Premier League officiating for seasons to come.

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