Premier League ready for VAR, warts and all

July 22 – The English Premier League is expecting the introduction of video assistant referees to cause controversy next season.

VAR technology has split public opinion down the middle but will be used in the English top flight for the first time.

VAR played a pivotal and at times controversial role in both the Women’s World Cup and the African Cup of Nations during the summer, but Interim Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is confident that  its introduction will have a minimal impact on the pace of matches.

“I have no doubt it will create some controversy because it is about the big decisions but we are prepared for that,” he told Sky.

“We have spent two years working up to this point, and we were committed to doing it in our heads for two years.

“We have been training and testing and making sure when it happens, particularly on Saturday afternoons when we have got multiple matches going on, that we have a number of VARs trained. We feel that is done and we are ready to launch it.”

Masters said Premier League referees would use the pitch-side video monitors to re-watch decisions more sparingly than in some other competitions.

“I think fans want to see those clear and obvious errors cleared up, but they also want to see the game moved on quickly. You’re probably going to see the referees not use the review area – which is that camera to the side of the pitch – as often as you might see in other competitions.

“You have to operate within the guidelines that the IFAB (International Football Association Board) gives you to operate VAR. But, hopefully it will work and it will clear up those decisions and it won’t interrupt the fast-flowing pace of the Premier League. Those are basically our two objectives.”

“We are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises.”

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