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Top English ref calls for Premier League to join VAR’s digital revolution

August 6 – One of England’s most respected former referees has blasted the Premier League’s decision to not implement Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in the forthcoming 2018/19 season.

Keith Hackett, who used to run the Professional Game Match Officials Limited which selects top-flight officials for match days, said in his column for the Daily Telegraph that the decision is a “huge mistake”.

The Premier League is the only elite league across Europe to reject VAR, restricting the system to cup games only.

But Hackett said: “When used correctly it can be a huge help to officials, and I wonder if the Premier League is already regretting its decision not to use VAR this season. “

Premier League clubs voted in April against implementation after several cup games were adversely affected by VAR rather than helped.

“If they were making the same decision today I think they would come to a very different conclusion,” argued Hackett.

Despite several inconsistencies during the World Cup subsequently, figures proved categorically that VAR was in general successful.

“I can assure you that the referees themselves cannot wait for VAR to be introduced, because without it they are being hung out to dry,” said Hackett.

“Introducing VAR will help the game and officials because the consequences of a mistake are enormous. When I was head of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd our officials received so many death threats I had to help one referee move into a safe-house while another had to have a panic-button installed at his place of work.”

“I have no doubt VAR will be in use in the Premier League at the start of next season. In fact, if there are a rash of mistakes in the early weeks of the coming campaign I would not be surprised if it was introduced in the Premier League by Christmas.”

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