Wolves proposal leaves Premier League clubs set to vote on scrapping VAR next season

As per David Ornstein of The Athletic, Premier League clubs are set to vote on whether to scrap Video Assistant Referee (VAR) from the beginning of next season.

The proposal was formally submitted by Wolverhampton Wanderers, and will be voted on by all 20 clubs’ respective representatives at the league’s annual general meeting on June 6, with 14 of the 20 sides needing to vote in favor for VAR to be scrapped.

In a move undoubtedly set to spark debate, Wolves released a statement saying their proposal has come “after careful consideration and with the utmost respect for the Premier League, (referees body) PGMOL and our fellow competitors.”

The Midlands side accepted that the introduction of VAR in the 2019/20 campaign was “made in good faith and with the best interests of football and the Premier League at it’s heart”, whilst also stating “There is no blame to be placed — we are all just looking for the best possible outcome for football — and all stakeholders have been working hard to try and make the introduction of additional technology a success. However, after five seasons of VAR in the Premier League, it is time for a constructive and critical debate on its future.

In it’s reasons for their decision, Wolves said: “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”.

The club also listed a number of in which the technology has caused “numerous unintended consequences that are damaging the relationship between fans and football, and undermining the value of the Premier League brand”.

Among others, these repercussions include: impact on goal celebrations and spontaneous passion, a more hostile with chants against VAR and the Premier League, diminished accountability and on-pitch authority of on-field officials who rely on VAR as a safety net, frustration and confusion inside stadiums due to poor communication and lengthy VAR checks, and more.

Wolves also pointed to the overshadowing of matches themselves arisen by “constant discourse” over VAR decisions, an erosion of trust and reputation, and an overall damage to supporters’ confidence in officiating standards due to the continued errors made with VAR, despite the belief that the use of the technology has overreached on it’s original purpose to “correct clear and obvious” errors or a “serious missed incident”.

These were terms used by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) – who are responsible for the laws of the game – upon the introduction of VAR when outlining the events in which it could assist a match official. Specifically, this means VAR could only intervene if there was deemed to be a “clear and obvious error” or “serious missed incident” in decisions surrounding goals, no goals penalties, direct red cards, and cases of mistaken identity.

As for the League’s response to the matter, a Premier League spokesperson respected the proposal and acknowledged the “concerns and issues around the use of VAR.”

However, it reiterated it’s ambition to continue with the use of the technology, stating “the League fully supports the use of VAR and remains committed, alongside PGMOL, to make continued improvements to the system for the benefit of the game”.

Travis Levison – Get Football

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