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Premier League clubs vote to keep VAR: what changes will be made to the technology?

Wolves unsuccessfully presented a motion to scrap Video Assistant Referees, who will have new duties from 2024/25 onwards.

Londres (Inglaterra)
Una decisión arbitral es revisada por el VAR durante un partido de la Premier League.
PAUL CHILDSAction Images via Reuters

Premier League clubs have voted to keep Video Assistant Referees (VAR) from next season onwards, although changes will be made to how the technology is used. A motion to scrap VAR was put forward by Wolverhampton Wanderers and voted on on Thursday, with clubs overwhelming in their support of the system.

How many Premier League clubs voted to keep VAR?

In order to make any kind of rule change, two-thirds (14) of the 20 teams in the league must vote in favour. Wolves, though, were ultimately the only club looking to remove the technology, with the other 19 voting to keep it.

However, Thursday’s meeting did also lead to discussions about how the use of VAR could be improved and known issues could be eradicated.

The result of the vote doesn’t come as a huge surprise, with number of media outlets in English already reporting there was little chance of Wolves getting their way.

“Wolves will almost certainly not be successful. Several clubs have affirmed they will not vote in favour of eliminating VAR, although they firmly believe that it is necessary to improve it”, reported The Times.

After the news of Wolves’ motion broke in mid-May, British broadcaster Sky Sports conceded that “the majority of the clubs accept Wolves’ arguments, but believe that abolishing VAR would be counterproductive and would damage the prestige of the Premier League.”

Six VAR changes in the Premier League in 2024/25

Since VAR was introduced in the Premier League in 2019/20, Wolves are the team that has been most negatively affected by refereeing decisions, which led to their 10-point motion explaining why the technology should be removed. Although they haven’t ultimately been successful, they have at least managed to force the PGMOL, the body responsible for officiating matches in England, to change how the system is used.

In an official statement, the Premier League confirmed changes would be made in “six key areas”:

  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 had previously been announced that semi-automated offsides will be introduced “at some point in the autumn,” according to the BBC.

That particular technology was used at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is expected to rule on offside calls much more quickly.

It has now also been revealed that referees will explain VAR decisions to supporters via in-stadium public address systems, while The Times says PGMOL “will instruct VAR referees to be more selective when intervening, thus leaving less room for interpretation.”