Wolves’ Bid to Scrap VAR Fails with 19-1 Vote: Premier League Clubs Opt for Improvement Over Removal

Wolves' Bid to Scrap VAR Fails with 19-1 Vote
Wolves' Bid to Scrap VAR Fails with 19-1 Vote

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ effort to eliminate VAR from the Premier League has been overwhelmingly rejected by fellow clubs. The proposal to scrap the technology was defeated 19-1 during the league’s end-of-season AGM on Thursday.

Wolves argued that the marginal gains in accuracy from VAR did not justify the negative impact on the spirit of the game, suggesting its removal from the 2024/25 season onwards. However, for the motion to pass, it required the support of 14 out of the 20 Premier League clubs, a threshold it failed to meet.

Despite the lack of support, the vote proceeded, serving as a platform for discussing potential improvements to VAR rather than its removal. Clubs expressed a shared concern over the current implementation issues but agreed that VAR offers a necessary safeguard against on-field mistakes.

Six Key Action Points for VAR Improvement

The clubs collectively endorsed six action points aimed at enhancing the effectiveness and acceptance of VAR:

  1. High Intervention Threshold: Maintain a high threshold for VAR intervention to ensure consistency and minimize game interruptions.
  2. Reduce Delays: Implement semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) and uphold the high intervention threshold to cut down on delays.
  3. Enhanced Fan Experience: Improve the in-stadium experience with reduced delays, clearer announcements from referees after VAR changes, and more comprehensive big-screen replays.
  4. Robust VAR Training: Collaborate with Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) to enhance VAR training, focusing on speed and accuracy.
  5. Increased Transparency: Expand communications from the Premier League Match Centre and enhance broadcast programming related to VAR.
  6. Stakeholder Communication: Launch a campaign to better explain VAR’s role to fans and participants, aiming for greater clarity and acceptance.

Shortly after the Premier League announced the results, Wolves issued a statement acknowledging the decision and committing to ongoing collaboration to improve VAR.

“While we are disappointed with the outcome of the vote on the future of VAR, we acknowledge and accept the decision made by our fellow clubs,” the statement read. “We welcome the commitment to improve VAR, particularly in areas that address delays, consistency, and fan experience. We remain committed to working closely with the Premier League and PGMOL to ensure VAR continues to evolve and better serve the interests of football.”

Moving Forward with VAR

Despite the 38 VAR errors recorded in the 2022-23 season, the Premier League highlighted a 21% year-on-year reduction in mistakes, indicating progress. To further enhance the system, clubs approved measures such as referees announcing decisions post-VAR review to improve in-stadium transparency.

The AGM also confirmed the introduction of semi-automated offside technology, although its implementation has been delayed until after an autumn international break for further testing.

While these changes aim to streamline VAR processes and improve accuracy, challenges remain. The Premier League will continue lobbying the International Football Association Board for more flexibility in the Laws of the Game, aiming for live video and audio broadcasts during VAR reviews to further enhance transparency.

As the Premier League evolves its approach to VAR, the commitment to refining the technology and improving the overall matchday experience remains a top priority.

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