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Premier League issue statement as clubs vote in favour of continuing VAR after Wolves proposal

The Premier League issue a statement as clubs vote in favour of continuing VAR after Wolves put forward a proposal.

Clubs have voted by 19-1 in favour of keeping video assistant referees (VAR) for the 2024/25 season onwards, with Wolverhampton Wanderers failing to gain support of others.

Wolves triggered a vote on the use of VAR in the 2024-25 season after formally submitting a resolution to the Premier League in May.

In order for it VAR to be scrapped, they needed 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs to vote in favour of change.


Premier League clubs today voted in favour of continuing to operate VAR in the Premier League.

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.

As part of ongoing work to improve VAR, six key areas were focused on as part of discussions with clubs:

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.

It was confirmed in April that Semi-Automated Offside Technology will be introduced 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 Premier League and PGMOL will continue to lobby IFAB to allow greater flexibility in the Laws of the Game to allow live video and audio broadcast during VAR reviews.

WOLVES SAY IN RESPONSE (per Express & Star):

“While we are disappointed with the outcome of the vote on the future of VAR at today’s Annual General Meeting, we acknowledge and accept the decision made by our fellow clubs and we are reassured that the Premier League is taking the concerns of clubs and supporters seriously.

“We welcome the commitment to improve VAR, particularly in areas that address delays, consistency, and fan experience.

“While we still believe that Premier League football would be superior without VAR, we think that these improvements are crucial for the integrity of the game and for enhancing the overall matchday experience for our supporters.

“Wolves remain committed to working closely with the Premier League and PGMOL to ensure that VAR continues to evolve and better serve the interests of football. “We appreciate the efforts being made to address the issues that have been highlighted and look forward to seeing these positive changes implemented.”

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSA, said: “Support for VAR has collapsed since its introduction into English football – it’s clear that in its current form it has made the match a less enjoyable experience. So much so that more than two-thirds of supporters now say they are against it.

“There’s a growing feeling from fans that the increase in decision-making accuracy is not a price worth paying for the huge impact VAR has had on the matchgoing experience.

“Enormous changes to the current system are required to improve things, particularly for supporters in stadiums. We cannot carry on like this.”

Wolves chairman Jeff Shi explained prior to the vote as to why VAR should be scrapped, tells other clubs to ‘listen to your fans’, and revealed his fears for football.

He said in a piece for the Telegraph: “This week we formally submitted a resolution to the Premier League to trigger a vote on the future of VAR at the league’s AGM in June. The reason we have done this has nothing to do with decisions that have gone against Wolves this season, but it is an honest attempt to safeguard the excitement, the reputation, and the future, of the game that we all fell in love with.

“The Premier League’s match attending fans are becoming increasingly disengaged due to the negative impact of VAR on our match experience, which is also leading to apathy and hostility in the stands and on social media, negative and damaging rhetoric from pundits, players and managers and a destructive erosion of trust in football’s authorities and officials.

“All of this is detrimental to the Premier League’s brand and reputation, and if we don’t halt it now, the damage may become irrevocable.

“It has become abundantly clear that our current version of VAR simply isn’t compatible with a sport of highly subjective laws, and its continued use will worsen the current situation, risking the league’s standing as the best in the world. We should act now to remove it and regain the essence of what makes the Premier League and English football such a captivating phenomenon.

“In November 2018, Premier League clubs voted unanimously to introduce VAR in the 2019-20 season – a decision made in good faith and with the best interests of football and the Premier League at its heart. We truly believed that VAR would benefit the product with an overwhelming increase in accuracy, which would lead to more respect for officials, wide approval from clubs and fans, and generally we were hopeful that there would be little or no negative consequences.

“Unfortunately, five years have passed since then and we are still being told that we need to ‘give it more time to improve’. How long will we be waiting? And isn’t it time we have a proper conversation about whether it will be worth waiting for?

“Sometimes VAR is referred to ‘technology’, however it is really just added cameras, replays and communication between additional match officials. If we can find genuine technology that can help make totally accurate decisions for non-subjective calls, similar to goal-line technology, or perhaps as we are told semi-automated offside technology should work, then that can add something to our game.

“Unfortunately though, IFAB will not allow the Premier League to use a hybrid version of VAR, and it is an all or nothing situation, which I believe to be a frustration for the Premier League and PGMOL, but ultimately makes the argument to remove VAR a simpler one.

“Today, when we discuss the new independent regulator for football, we talk about the “unintended consequences” that its introduction might have on the Premier League. We can use the same logic to evaluate VAR, and its first five seasons, we can now summarise the following unintended consequences that it has brought to the Premier League.

“Impact on celebrations and atmosphere – The widespread reluctance to celebrate goals due to fear of VAR intervention reflects a loss of passion and spontaneity in the game, alienating match-going fans and threatening the essence of football and atmosphere that makes the English game special.

“Frustration and confusion in stadiums – VAR checks during matches, particularly in stadiums, cause frustration and confusion due to lengthy delays and lack of communication. Referees often seem unsure of the reasons behind checks, further undermining confidence in the system, officials, and the league.

“Hostile and negative atmosphere inside stadiums – We are now seeing the Premier League anthem booed, chants of ‘F— VAR’ and ‘It’s not football anymore’ and organised protests from fan groups regularly occurring at games up and down the country. This creates a new challenge for stadium operations teams and damages the Premier League’s image worldwide.

“Overreach of VAR’s original purpose – VAR’s original purpose was to correct clear and obvious mistakes, yet its application has extended to subjective decisions and minutiae irrelevant to the outcome. This overreach compromises the fluidity and integrity of the game.

“Damaging the authority of officials – Reliance on VAR has diminished the authority of our top on-field officials. Referees no longer make decisions with conviction in the knowledge that their decision is final, and assistant referees are becoming obsolete with most offside decisions delayed and then checked by VAR.

“Continued errors despite VAR – Regardless of VAR’s implementation, errors still occur regularly, which is to be expected as the technology is operated by human beings. However, after a lengthy break in play and a chance to watch incidents again in slow motion and from multiple angles, it is infinitely harder for supporters to accept inaccuracy and that is eroding confidence in the league’s officiating standards.

“Incompatibility with Premier League’s pace – The fast-paced nature of the Premier League, which our league is famous for, is incompatible with lengthy breaks in play that VAR brings. VAR checks upset the flow of matches and alter momentum, to the detriment of the competition’s entertainment value.

“Extended added time and disruption – Due to the stoppages in play that VAR brings, added time has more than tripled at the end of Premier League matches since before its introduction. This has led to matches running obscenely long – beyond 100 minutes, on average – which has caused disruption for broadcasters, and increased load, and risk of injury, to our players.

“VAR discourse overshadowing matches – Of course we used to debate refereeing decisions before VAR was introduced, but the constant debate we now have about VAR-related decisions every weekend is tarnishing the reputation of the league.

“Erosion of trust and reputation – Before VAR, if a decision was incorrect, supporters would understand it was due to human error. Since the introduction of VAR, we are giving oxygen to those who believe that the Premier League and PGMOL officials are corrupt, and this is damaging the reputation of our league.

“The Premier League rebuff our concerns by saying that there is a higher percentage of accuracy in refereeing decisions today than there was five years ago.

“However, it is our strong belief, and the belief amongst the vast majority of match going supporters from all of our clubs, that the price we are paying for a small increase in accuracy, by introducing a level of interference that is at odds with the spirit of our game, is not a price worth paying.

“Of course, the decision will be made, not by the supporters who pay their hard-earned money to attend the matches that we are spoiling, but by 20 football club executives in a meeting room at the Premier League AGM. As I did when I sat down with our Fan Advisory Board last month, I call on those club executives, and the league itself, to listen properly to the views of its supporters, players and managers, and consider this time, to vote in their interests.

“Removing VAR is not going backwards, but moving forwards, and it is not an admission of failure but a reaffirmation of the league’s commitment to the passion, spontaneity, and authenticity that make English football truly exceptional.

“Let us act decisively now to preserve the integrity and magic of the Premier League for generations to come.”

Twitter users gave their reaction as the Premier League issue a statement after clubs vote in favour of continuing VAR despite the proposal put forward by Wolves…

@TheGunnersD3n: I despise VAR it sucks the excitement out of the beautiful game, but I am not suprise the Clubs voted 🗳️ to keep it, there’s so much ramifications to getting rid of it, especially when it comes to UEFA and FIFA guidelines and competitions. What we as fans should be clamoring for is that the VAR guidelines should be tailored to the UEFA ones as used in their competitions which are quite better than the shambles we have in the premier league and more importantly that the VAR decisions are communicated real time on the huge on field screens so that the match going fans know what’s going on and are carried along with every decision.

@NeilRands: And still the only sport where the ticket paying fan can’t see/hear what’s going on?

@SeanWSnoddy: Let’s not hear one manager moan about a VAR decision (other than Wolves) next season then … had the chance to boot it … but no 😡

@timimorris: This cements the @EFL Championship as the best league in the world for fans.

@KerrieRoebuck: Clubs will still moan about decisions next season though. Can’t vote to keep it and then complain about how it’s run.

@ZHollowayyy: No other fan base or club for that matter has any right to complain about VAR now. This post will just be re-used in any argument going forward next season.

@alisonangelx: Oh joy , at least my club voted against it , don’t want to hear any other clubs moaning when it goes against them next season 🤷🏻‍♀️🤔😂

@DougSimonite: Let’s get back to the original mission of VAR. To correct clear and obvious on field errors. And clear and obvious should mean QUICK! 30 seconds max to overrule an on field call!

I’d like to see either…
a) The champions league offside system be used (rather than draw squiggly lines down a screen everytime) for offsides.
b) Can we not go back to offside actually being offside? For example… There has to be a daylight gap between striker and defender.

@PeterDrummie: Scrapping VAR would be a step backwards so we just have to keep adjusting all the little details to get the best out of it we can. It won’t ever please everybody.

@Sharpy9PS: And not a single fan, the life blood of the game has or was consulted on its introduction and now subsequent decision to keep it place. Absolute disgrace and a match fixing tool in all but name. VAR has been the death of the game since its inception. Shameful

@343betTips: VAR is not bad. The implementation is where the problem is. Training the officials to be more accurate would change everything.

@Trevorlloyd92: Get better refs and it may have a chance

@NFFC182: It’s making the game so much less enjoyable to watch. All the talking points are about the VAR mistakes, every single week.

@LukeSpurs85: That is a disgraceful decision. Football should be entirely about the fan experience and VAR has an extremely negative impact on live football

@FansAgainstVAR_: Imagine my shock. It was a farce. No club bothered asking it’s fans what they thought. Anti VAR fans are going nowhere and we are only going to get louder and more problematic for you, @premierleague #AMF

@Ackers87: Gutting. VAR is absolute shit. I hate it. It kills the emotions of the game. It’ll still be shit next season.

@dougbagleyfdl: I look forward to ONLY the manager of Wolves complaining about VAR decisions next Season.

@DaveWhitehouse1: Well, I now fully expect that no other @premierleague club will complain about #VAR ever again… and that @Wolves will be on the receiving end of even more dubious interventions. They had their chance. At least we made a stand. 🧡🖤

@afc_richard: As much as we all moan about VAR, last season in a cup game Ramsdale appeared to be fouled as West Ham scored & almost everyone of us bemoaned the absence of VAR to check it. None of us like HOW it is being used, but there is no way we could have gone backwards and ditched it

@Sean_MSt: 19 in favour. Wow. It’s never going to go. Fans will always be ignored. The game continues to decline.

@GeorgeLankester: None of it will work, and it will continue the gradual long-term destruction of the game. English football will not be in a very pretty place in decades to come.

@laazarini7: PL clubs showing just how out of touch they are with their own fans YET AGAIN. Did they even consult the bloody managers? Cos most of them hate it too.

@robcross82: At least Wolves are the right side of history on this. Looking forward to all of the 19 clubs not moaning a single time with a VAR call is wrong.

@JtNottm: Not really a surprise, but disappointed that #NFFC didn’t make a stand with Wolves, given our feelings about VAR throughout the season. Let’s hope major improvements are made in the system & the officials that use it, going forward.

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