Match-going fans can expect to be provided with more detailed information during VAR checks from next month, the Premier League has announced.
Representatives of the 20 top-flight clubs gathered in central London for a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday, due to VAR coming in for heavy criticism from clubs and supporters alike over lengthy delays and a lack of clarity over precisely what is being looked at.
Referees’ chief Mike Riley admitting to the delegates that improvements to VAR were required, but there was no change in policy over the use of pitchside monitors, which will continue to be used sparingly in a bid to keep the game flowing.
“Going forward, and working within the IFAB [International Football Association Board] protocol, there will be increased information made available to attending fans and viewers watching around the world,” a Premier League statement said.
“This will explain in more detail what is being checked. Importantly, the Premier League will continue to show the definitive clip or image for all overturned decisions in stadia, and remains the only major European league to do so.”
The league explained that giant screens would contain more information than they have up to now, including – for example – by displaying ‘Checking Penalty – Possible Handball’ instead of ‘Checking Penalty’.
The Premier League statement added: “The core principles of VAR were reiterated. These are minimum interference for maximum benefit, maintaining the pace and tempo of Premier League football and correcting clear and obvious on-field errors.
“Clubs strongly represented the views of their supporters and agreed VAR should be under constant review. Research will now take place with fans, and other relevant stakeholders, to understand their views on how the application of VAR could be best improved.”
Riley, the managing director of referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited, accepted there were issues with the speed and consistency of decision-making and said that would improve as officials became more accustomed to using the technology.
He also said the concept of ‘clear and obvious’ errors would be reaffirmed for subjective decisions, which of course would not include offside calls. On the issue of pitchside monitors, the league stuck to its policy to use them sparingly.
“The policy of using the Referee Review Area was discussed and it was reemphasised that it would be reserved for unseen incidents, or when information from the VAR is outside the expectation range of the referee. Ensuring the pace and tempo of Premier League football remains an important focus for clubs,” the Premier League statement read.