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Is the Premier League removing VAR? How many clubs need to vote in favour?

Wolves have presented a formal resolution to scrap Video Assistant Referees after a series of high-profile errors.

Wolves have presented a formal resolution to scrap Video Assistant Referees after a series of high-profile errors.
Andrew BoyersAction Images via Reuters

Premier League clubs are to hold on vote on whether to remove Video Assistant Referees (VAR) from the start of next season onwards at their upcoming annual general meeting.

When will Premier League clubs vote on VAR?

The motion has been put formally put forward by Wolves and will be voted on by the 20 members of the division when they get together on 6 June. Should the resolution be passed, this coming weekend’s round of fixtures, the final one of the 2023/24 season, would be the last time the technology is used in the English top flight.

In order for any rule change to made within the league, two thirds of its members (14 of 20) have to vote in favour. With Wolves already clearly on board, 13 of the remaining 19 teams must also want VAR to be removed.

What criticism has there been of VAR in the Premier League?

VAR was first used in the Premier League ahead of the 2019/20 season, with the initial objective of eliminating “clear and obvious errors” in relation to goals, penalties, direct red cards and mistaken identity, like in other competitions around the world.

Although the technology has led to plenty of wrong refereeing calls being corrected, there has been huge criticism of the way it has been used, especially in England.

That has ranged from VAR re-refereeing matches rather than only eradicating those “clear and obvious errors”, lengthy delays related to decision making, decisions being poorly communicated to fans (and everyone) inside stadiums and, perhaps worst of all, significant mistakes still being made in spite of the technology.

Why do Wolves want VAR to be scrapped?

Arsenal and Nottingham Forest are among the other clubs to have publicly voiced their displeasure at the way the technology has been used.

Wolves, who have been left aggrieved by a number of VAR calls this season, said in a statement: “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.”

They also voiced their belief VAR was “undermining the value of the Premier League brand”.

Premier League response to VAR resolution

In response to the statement, the Premier League acknowledged they would listen to what Wolves and other clubs had to say about the situation, although a spokesperson reaffirmed the league’s commitment to improving the way the technology is used.

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 [Professional Game Match Officials Limited], to make continued improvements to the system for the benefit of the game and fans.”

If 14 of the 20 clubs do ultimately vote to remove Video Assistant Referees, the Premier League would become the first major league around the world to choose to scrap the technology.