Premier League’s Scholes says VAR will improve, casts doubt over value of SAOT

February 8 – Premier League Chief Football Officer Tony Scholes has admitted that the in-stadium experience of VAR is poor for fans, but insists that it has improved refereeing in the English top flight.

Despite demands for a higher standard of officiating, Scholes also sounded a “note of caution” around the calls for semi-automated offside, which debuted at the 2022 Qatar men’s World Cup and has featured prominently and impressively in the ongoing AFC Asian Cup.

“We don’t believe it will improve the accuracy of decision making. What it will do is speed up the time of decision making. It’s extremely important in that regard. We are testing a couple of systems at the moment and we hope to be going to clubs for a decision later in the year. But that’s not a definite at the moment,” he said.

VAR has been in the headlights of scrutiny ever since it debuted in the Premier League in 2019, and criticism reached an all-time high when footage of the VAR room was released during the officiating disaster for Spurs vs Liverpool earlier in the season, with fans comparing the VAR room atmosphere to a zoo. The biggest and undisputed VAR mistake to date remains the Luis Diaz ‘offside’ disallowed goal for Liverpool at Tottenham in October.

Several Premier League managers, including Gary O’Neil, Chris Wilder, Mikel Arteta, Jurgen Klopp, and Roberto De Zerbi, have criticised VAR and refereeing standards this season. This sentiment is publicly shared by various pundits and some players.

Regardless, Scholes stated that the accuracy of decisions has risen from 82% before its introduction in 2019 to the current 96%.

“The in-stadium VAR experience for supporters is poor,” he said. “It’s nowhere near good enough. We know it’s not.

“It affects supporters’ enjoyment of the game, and we know it needs to change.

“My personal view is we’re on a journey and that will come and we’ll get to a point where both the video and the audio is played live and then played afterwards to explain the decision.”

“We’re doing too many checks and we’re taking too long in doing them,” he said. “To a degree it’s understandable given the level of scrutiny these guys are under, from ourselves, also from you guys [the media] as well as from supporters.

“But the reviews are taking too long and it’s affecting the flow of the game. We’re extremely aware of that and the need to improve their speed, whilst always maintaining the accuracy.”

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1721460043labto1721460043ofdlr1721460043owedi1721460043sni@g1721460043niwe.1721460043yrrah1721460043