Premier League

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

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

Premier League clubs have voted in favor of keeping video assistant referees (VAR), the league announced Thursday.

VAR has been under huge scrutiny since it was introduced to the Premier League at the beginning of the 2019-20 season. Last season, VAR came under even greater scrutiny as officials made a number of contentious – often wrong – decisions while using VAR.

The Premier League also said that it has discussed making improvements in how VAR operates, which includes “improving [the] fan experience” of VAR checks, “more robust training” for officials and “increasing transparency and communication around” the system.

During the 2024-25 season, the Premier League will also be introducing semi-automated offside technology (SAOT), a change that had been agreed at the organization’s shareholders’ meeting in April.

SAOT is already used in the Champions League and was also used at the 2022 World Cup.

“The new system will be used for the first time in the Premier League next season, and it is anticipated the technology will be ready to be introduced after one of the autumn international breaks,” said the Premier League in an April statement regarding the introduction of SAOT.

Per the Premier League, all rule changes and major broadcast and commercial proposals require the approval of at least two-thirds vote, or a minimum of 14 of the 20 clubs in the league.

According to the BBC, the 20 teams voted 19-1 to keep VAR, with just Wolverhampton Wanderers in favor of removing it.

CNN has reached out to the Premier League to confirm these reports.

A VAR check for possible offside on a goal scored by Nottingham Forest’s Willy Boly against Chelsea earlier this year. – Mike Egerton/PA

Wolves was also the Premier League club who tabled the vote having been irked by a number of refereeing decisions this season.

“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,” the club said in a statement to CNN in May.

“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.”

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