Premier League votes in favor of keeping VAR, acknowledging improvements needed for controversial system

Premier League clubs have unanimously voted to retain the use of video assistant referees (VAR), according to an announcement made by the league on Thursday.

Since its introduction at the start of the 2019-20 season, VAR has faced intense scrutiny and criticism. Last season, in particular, officials faced backlash for making numerous controversial and often incorrect decisions while utilizing VAR.

The Premier League has acknowledged the need for improvements in the operation of VAR. These improvements will focus on enhancing the fan experience during VAR checks, providing more comprehensive training for officials, and increasing transparency and communication surrounding the system.

Additionally, the Premier League has confirmed that it plans to implement semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) starting from the 2024-25 season. This decision was reached during a shareholders’ meeting held in April and follows the successful use of SAOT in both the Champions League and the 2022 World Cup.

“The Premier League announced in April that the new SAOT system will make its debut in the upcoming season. It is expected that the technology will be implemented after one of the autumn international breaks. The introduction of SAOT requires a two-thirds majority vote, with at least 14 out of the 20 clubs in the league approving any rule changes or major broadcast and commercial proposals. According to the BBC, 19 of the 20 teams voted in favor of keeping VAR, with only Wolverhampton Wanderers supporting its removal. CNN has reached out to the Premier League for confirmation on these reports. Wolves, who have been frustrated with several refereeing decisions this season, were the club that initiated the vote.”
In a statement to CNN in May, the club expressed that there is no need to assign blame, as everyone is striving for the best outcome for football. All parties involved have put in significant effort to ensure the successful implementation of additional technology. However, with five seasons of VAR in the Premier League, it is now necessary to engage in a constructive and critical discussion about its future. The club’s stance is that the cost we are paying for a marginal improvement in accuracy contradicts the essence of our beloved sport. Therefore, they propose removing VAR from the 2024/25 season onward.