Premier League chairmen want change to VAR policy

Luke Bradshaw
·Sports Writer
Referee Andy Madley (R) waves away the protests of Everton's French defender Lucas Digne (L) and Everton's Portuguese midfielder André Gomes (C) after he awarded a penalty to Brighton following a review by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Everton at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on October 26, 2019. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Referee Andy Madley waves away protests (Credit: Getty Images)

After another weekend dominated by VAR controversies, Premier League chairmen are considering changing policy to ensure referees use pitchside monitors to double-check incidents.

Monitors are in use at all Premier League grounds, but referees have been advised to allow VARs (Video Assistant Referees) to minimise delays and not negatively affect the in-stadium experience, but the chairman now believe this is leading to incorrect decisions being made. The sentiment is that if the referees make the final decision, the technology will come under less fire.

The next PL chairmen’s meeting is on 14th November, with VAR at the very top of the agenda.

Speaking to The Times, one chairman said: “The issue of pitchside monitors was raised at our last meeting in September but it was hardly debated — it will be different at the next one.

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“There are probably ten clubs now who have been on the receiving end of VAR decisions who feel that if the referee had looked at the incident himself, he may well have made a different decision.

“There will be a lot of pressure now for the referees to engage with the monitors, especially if it’s going to change the outcome of a game. I think we will seriously consider making a change.”

There have been 26 overturned decisions in the Premier League so far this season, with incidents at the Emirates Stadium, the Etihad and the Amex Stadium all causing much debate over last weekend’s round of games.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal speaks to referee Martin Atkinson during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 27, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Sokratis speaks to referee Martin Atkinson (Credit: Getty Images)

Key to the implementation of VAR is that there must be a “clear and obvious error” to overturn a decision, as outlined by the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Board). Incidents like the one between Arsenal and Crystal Palace, where Callum Chambers was deemed to have committed a foul in the buildup to the Sokratis Papastathopoulos goal that would have potentially won Arsenal the game, seemed debatable at best, and yet it was still overturned.

After the game, Sokratis said: “VAR is a good solution but for me the referees have to use [monitors] every time.”

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Former Premier League referee Neil Swarbrick is the Head of Implementation of VAR in the Premier League. He told Yahoo Sport UK: “When trialling VAR we found referees were overturning 96% of decisions when they consulted monitors, because being told to look at the screen implied they had made a mistake. By trusting the VAR to help make the decision that was removed.”

After 40 Premier League games PGMOL managing director Mike Riley admitted to four clear mistakes by VARs, including the failure to award two penalties. Last weekend, there were seven overturned decisions, with three penalties awarded by VARs, the most in a single round of top-flight games so far.

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