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Premier League prepared for VAR controversies next season


VAR review

VAR was used during this summer’s Women’s World Cup

The Premier League says there is “no doubt” video assistant referees (VAR) will cause controversy next season but it is “prepared” for it.

VAR will be used in the English top-flight for the first time in the 2019-20 season.

It has been controversially used in World Cups, Champions League and some domestic cup matches in recent seasons.

But Premier League’s interim chief executive Richard Masters says it is “ready to launch it” after testing.

“We have spent two years working up to this point, and we were committed to doing it in our heads for two years,” Masters said.

“I have no doubt it will create some controversy because it is about the big decisions but we are prepared for that.

“We have been training and testing and making sure when it happens, particularly on Saturday afternoons when we have got multiple matches going on, that we have a number of VARs trained.

“We feel that is done and we are ready to launch it.”

Premier League referees will use pitchside monitors sparingly next season, says interim chief executive Richard Masters

Premier League referees met last month to discuss their approach to using VAR.

The use of VAR was criticised during this summer’s Women’s World Cup in France, with one complaint the amount of stoppages and delays to the game.

Masters said Premier League referees would use the pitchside video monitors to re-watch decisions more sparingly.

“I think fans want to see those clear and obvious mistakes changed and put right,” he said.

“But they don’t want to see the Premier League or English football interrupted, or the pace of the game changed.

“I think the only difference you might see is the referees using the referee review area a bit more sparingly and relying more on the VAR for the more subjective decisions.

“But we are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises.

“We’ve got to let it happen first and keep an open mind about whether it is really working.”

What will happen next season?

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How does VAR work?

All 20 Premier League grounds are equipped with the technology which will allow decisions to be assessed from the VAR hub in Stockley Park, west London.

VAR will be used for ‘clear and obvious errors’ in four areas – Goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity.

This will lead to changes in the viewing experience for fans:

  • Television: Viewers will be able to see what the video assistant referees watch, including an ‘over the shoulder’ angle of the officials in the studio. The VAR team will be announced in advance, as per the on-field refereeing group. Broadcasters will be keen matches do not extend too much over the regular 90 minutes, particularly Sky when it has double-headers, with matches kicking off at 14:00 and 16:00 BST.
  • Stadium: Information about a VAR check will appear on the big screens at the 18 grounds which are equipped with them ie ‘Checking red card’. When a decision is overturned, a video of the incident will be shown when appropriate. At the two grounds which do not have screens – Anfield (Liverpool) and Old Trafford (Manchester United), announcements will be made via the scoreboard and PA.
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