Premier League clubs to vote on axing VAR as Nottingham Forest row adds to clamour

Scenes such as this, of Willy Boly's goal for Nottingham Forest against Chelsea being checked by VAR, could be gone next season as clubs are set to vote on ditching VAR
Scenes such as this, Willy Boly's goal for Forest against Chelsea being checked by VAR, could soon be a thing of the past. -Credit:Getty

Nottingham Forest have had their share of run-ins with VAR this season, but that could all change for the 2024/25 campaign.

Wolverhampton Wanderers have submitted a resolution to the Premier League to trigger a vote on whether to scrap the technology from next term. Top-flight clubs will now vote on whether to ditch VAR at their annual general meeting next month.

The idea is likely to go down well with the Reds. They have had cause for complaint over refereeing and VAR decisions on several occasions this season.

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Wolves, who have also been on the end of several controversial calls from officials, said in a statement: “The introduction of VAR in 2019/20 was a decision made in good faith and with the best interests of football and the Premier League at its heart. However, it has led to numerous unintended negative consequences that are damaging the relationship between fans and football, and undermining the value of the Premier League brand.

“The decision to table the resolution has come after careful consideration and with the utmost respect for the Premier League, PGMOL and our fellow competitors. 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. 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.”

For any changes to be made, it will require a two-thirds majority - 14 of the 20 clubs - to vote in favour of Wolves’ proposal at the AGM. Premier League clubs have already voted for semi-automated offside technology to be introduced for next season.

A Premier League spokesperson told the Press Association: “The Premier League can confirm it will facilitate a discussion on VAR with our clubs at the Annual General Meeting next month. Clubs are entitled to put forward proposals at shareholders’ meetings and we acknowledge the concerns and issues around the use of VAR. However, 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 and fans.”

Reds head coach Nuno Espirito Santo has openly criticised the standard of officiating in the Premier League and has described the use of VAR as “a mess”. He has previously called for referees to take more responsibility for their decisions on the pitch, rather than relying on VAR.

Asked if the game would be better without VAR, he said earlier this season: “It’s a question I ask myself many times. When it came, I supported it. But maybe, one day not much ahead of us, we will say football was better before VAR, because it’s been a mess.

“My personal feeling is about referees not taking decisions on the pitch. They were doing it before so they should do it again, and then comes VAR - not the other way around. The other way around is a huge mistake for the game.

“I can speak and tell my opinion and try to be honest. The general feeling in football is referees are not taking their own decisions so this is affecting a lot. They are not taking their decisions, and waiting for the VAR to intervene is not helping the situation. Referees are the authority on the pitch and then VAR should help. What we want is to move forward.

“If nobody asked who is refereeing this match before it’s a sign things went well. It’s what we wish for, that nobody speaks about referees, they speak about the game.

“We cannot ignore it, things have been bad, they should feel responsible for it because there have been a lot of mistakes, not only in our games. You can see things are not well. What we ask for is improvement.”

Nuno’s comments came on the back of Forest’s controversial defeat at Everton, when they felt they should have been awarded three penalties. It led to the club posting a furious tweet after the full-time whistle questioning the integrity of VAR Stuart Attwell.

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