The VAR screen shows that a penalty has been awarded to Manchester City, February 2, 2020. (Reuters)
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LONDON – Premier League clubs will consider making changes to the way VAR (Video Assistant Referee) reviews are used from next season, the league’s new CEO Richard Masters said.
The use of VAR, introduced for this campaign in England’s top division, has been a source of constant controversy and criticism. A survey by pollsters YouGov reported on Tuesday that six out of 10 fans felt the system was working badly.
But Masters told reporters that their own research had found supporters welcomed the improved accuracy of decisions but were frustrated with some aspects of how VAR has worked.
“There is obviously the other part of VAR which is consistent decision-making, the time to take decisions, frustration perhaps with the precision offsides and whether you like that or don’t, the jury is out on that,” he said.
Masters said 94 per cent of “key decisions” had been found to be correct this season but that clubs will discuss in April how the system will work next season and look at issues such as close offside calls and the referee’s use of the pitchside monitor.
“I think offsides is one and whether you want offsides that are precise to the armpit or the heel, or whether you want to build in a bit of tolerance? That is sort of a technical challenge,” he said.
“The use of the review area (by the referee) is another debate. We have recently expanded the remit on that to cover red cards and downgrades from red card situations.
“I think if fans can see the referee (reviewing the incident) then psychologically they are seeing something happening rather than waiting for (VARs based in) Stockley Park to make a decision. That will be a discussion point,” he said.
Masters said the league was in “constant dialogue” with IFAB, the game’s lawmaking body, over the use of VAR. IFAB is set to discuss the system at its annual meeting in Belfast later this month.
“I think it’s here to stay and certainly it’s going to be with us next season,” he said.
The Premier League chief indicated that there was not yet an agreement in place with the Football Association over potential new restrictions on the number of foreign players in each club’s squad after the United Kingdom left the European Union last month.
The FA want to reduce the maximum number of non-homegrown players permitted in 25-man squads from 17-13.
Masters said there was agreement between the Premier League and the FA over their aims but not how to best move forward.
“We want the Premier League to still bring the best players from around the world and we want the system to be able to provide more and better quality players for the England team,” he said.
“We don’t necessarily believe quotas are the answer.”
Masters hopes any new system will be agreed before the summer transfer window so that clubs are able to recruit knowing what rules will be in place once the UK’s new immigration system comes into place in January 2021. (Reuters)