Premier League clubs to vote on scrapping VAR next season

premier league clubs to vote on scrapping var next season

Premier League clubs may give video assistant referees the red card - PA/Mike Egerton

Premier League clubs have been forced into a vote over whether to scrap VAR when a proposal by Wolverhampton Wanderers to get rid of the system obliged the league to place it on the agenda for the shareholders meeting in June.

Under Premier League rules a club can put forward a proposal to discuss at the regular shareholders’ meetings – with the annual general meeting held in June. As things stand there is no evidence that Wolves’ proposal, to get rid of VAR, has strong support among their fellow 19 clubs.

Wolves issued a long statement announcing their proposal saying that “a small increase in accuracy” was “at odds with the spirit of the game” and that VAR should be scrapped. The Premier League, which opposes the proposals, says that the accuracy of all decisions has gone up from 86 per cent before VAR to 92 per cent since it was introduced at the start of the 2019-2020 season.

Wolves said in their statement that it was seeking the “best possible outcome for football”, The club listed ten reasons why VAR should be abolished, from its “impact on goal celebrations” to “fuelling completely nonsensical allegations of corruption.”

English clubs playing in European competitions would continue to be subject to VAR, as per Uefa’s approach. The European governing body has no intention of scrapping the technology. A senior figure at another Premier League club told Telegraph Sport there was “no chance at all” of 14 Premier League clubs – the super majority needed – voting for VAR to be scrapped.

In a statement the Premier League confirmed it would “facilitate a discussion” on VAR at the AGM in Harrogate next month. It said: “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 [the organisation that runs officials on behalf of the Premier League, Football Association and Football League], to make continued improvements to the system for the benefit of the game and fans.”

Wolves said that introducing VAR was a “decision made in good faith and with the best interests of football and the Premier League at its heart”. It said VAR 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 club’s list of ten reasons included “frustration and confusion” among fans, “a more hostile atmosphere” and “the erosion of authority” of on-field officials.

PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials) are working on changes to VAR including semi-automated offside. Removing VAR from the Premier League is opposed by the Premier League board and would put it at odds with the other leading leagues in Europe

The most recent National Supporters Survey carried out by the Football Supporters’ Association, published last June, found that almost two thirds of fans were against VAR.

That compared with nearly three-quarters who had been in favour of trials of video referees for game-changing decisions shortly before the system’s introduction.

Referees body PGMOL failed to quell mounting anger towards the system this season after being forced to make emergency changes to its VAR operations following September’s Liverpool offside goal fiasco.

Two months later, it emerged that Premier League managers were demanding another overhaul of a system Mikel Arteta branded “embarrassing” and a “disgrace” after Arsenal’s controversial defeat at Newcastle United.

Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers’ Association, confirmed it had held talks with PGMOL about a plan that would see a referee work with the same Var whenever possible.

He also revealed his members were calling for an urgent review of what constituted a “clear and obvious” error amid “much confusion” about the threshold for overturning subjective on-field decisions.

Wolves’ forcing of a vote came barely a month after Premier League clubs voted unanimously for the introduction of semi-automated offside, an extension of existing VAR technology, to the competition next season.

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