Premier League clubs vote to keep VAR after vote: here's what you need to know about the decision

Premier League clubs have voted to retain VAR for the 2024-2025 season after a motion by Wolverhampton Wanderers to abolish the video rating system was roundly rejected at the league's annual general meeting.

CBS Sports understands that Wolves were the only club to vote in favor of abolishing the system, introduced in the 2019-2020 season. However, representatives of the league's 20 clubs held an hour-long discussion about improvements to be made to the system, according to sources, with significant pressure put on referee chief Howard Webb and Premier League chief football officer Tony Scholes. Given that the announcement included a renewed commitment to “a high threshold for VAR intervention”, clubs hope this bar will be raised for 2024-2025.

Over the past twelve months in particular, there have been numerous controversies surrounding the role of video assistant referees, most notably a Liverpool goal wrongly disallowed against Tottenham and a penalty denied to Wolves in the opening round of matches due to what seemed like an obvious violation. Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Systemic issues, including the time taken to make decisions, remain, although the latter should be addressed through the implementation of a semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) in the autumn of the 2024-2025 season. The Premier League's statement acknowledged that “improvements must be made for the benefit of the game and the supporters.”

The league added that six areas were central to the discussion between the twenty clubs:

  1. A high threshold for VAR intervention to ensure greater consistency
  2. Reducing delays via VAR, partly via SAOT and via the high threshold
  3. Improving the experience for fans in the stadium, including “an improved offering of big screen replays with all VAR interventions”
  4. Improved training for officials in the field of VAR, to be carried out in collaboration with referee organization PGMOL
  5. Greater transparency about VAR processes
  6. A “fan and stakeholder VAR communication campaign”

The league added that it “will continue to lobby IFAB [football’s lawmakers] to allow greater flexibility in the rules of the game to allow for live video and audio broadcasts during VAR reviews.”

It had long been expected that Wolves' proposal would fall somewhere short of the 14 votes needed to disable VAR, but the 19-1 margin is as close to approving the technology as the Premier League and PGMOL could have hoped.

In response, Wolves said: “While we are disappointed with the outcome of the vote on the future of VAR at today's AGM, we acknowledge and accept the decision of our fellow clubs and are reassured that the Premier League the management takes concerns from clubs and supporters seriously.

“We welcome the commitment to improving VAR, especially in areas addressing delays, consistency and fan experience. While we still believe that Premier League football without VAR would be superior for supporters, players, coaches and viewers, we believe these improvements are crucial for the integrity of the game and for improving the overall matchday experience for our supporters.

“Wolves remain committed to working closely with the Premier League and PGMOL to ensure VAR continues to evolve and better serves the interests of football. We appreciate the efforts being made to address the issues we our resolution and look forward to seeing whether the changes implemented this summer can reverse the decline in the match experience for our fans and respect for our officials.”

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