Premier League chief makes damning new VAR rule claim as Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham wait

Latest Premier League news with Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham given a huge VAR update on the use of semi-automated offsides for the 2024/25 season

VAR screen to check a possible offside at Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge on December 16, 2023 in London, England.

The Premier League’s chief football officer Tony Scholes has admitted that VAR needs improving while also making comments on possible changes likely to affect Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham. Following its introduction into top-flight football back in the 2019/2020 season, VAR has faced numerous criticisms for its inconsistencies and failure to reach the correct decisions.

With errors and mistakes continuing, despite this campaign being its fifth, Scholes has offered an honest verdict on the current use of VAR after it was confirmed the Premier League would be unable to introduce semi-automated offsides for the following season.

“VAR is and remains a very effective tool in supporting the match officials on the pitch … but clearly everything in the world of VAR is not perfect,” Scholes said, via The Guardian. “We’re aware of that and we know that we have work to do.

“There are two elements that I believe affect the whole reputation of VAR. [First] is the time that it takes to do the reviews, or to do the checks. We’re doing too many checks, we’re taking too long in doing them as well. It’s to a degree understandable given the level of scrutiny these guys are under, but the reviews are taking too long and it’s affecting the flow of the game.

“The second area where the VAR experience is poor is the in‑stadium experience for the supporter. 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.”

The Champions League use semi-automated offsides and they have shown to drastically reduce the wait time for decisions to be made while also remaining extremely accurate. However, that technology coming into the Premier League seems some way off with Scholes explaining why it currently cannot be used.

“We are constrained in what we can do by Ifab [the body that determines the laws of the game] and Ifab is very clear at the moment we cannot use the audio,” he revealed. “My personal view is that we’ll get to a point where both the video and the audio is played live and then played afterwards to explain the decision. How far away from that we are, I don’t know.”

Gives its success at a European level, Scholes admitted the Premier League trialled semi-automated offsides but mixed results has seen any indication of that technology being introduced take a step back. He said: “It’s what we call the ‘edge cases’, where many things are occurring at once,” Scholes said. “You might have a lot of bodies in one place and it is the ability of the system to identify different parts of the body [that is of concern].

“For the vast majority of cases there won’t be an issue but in our competition we want to be clear that we are not introducing something that will give us problems in other areas.” Despite grievances held against VAR, Scholes is still largely in favour of its use with some statistics proving it is valuable.

“Before VAR 82% of the decisions [referees] made were deemed to be ­correct,” Scholes said. “In the season so far, that ­figure is 96%. VAR so far this year has intervened correctly on 57 ­occasions, 24 of those where VAR has intervened on a factually ­incorrect mistake on the pitch.” (With the other 33 ­subjective decisions such as ­reckless challenges.)”

Scholes also gave his verdict on PGMOL chief Howard Webb and the seemingly regularity of Premier League managers making their grievances with the technology known. “Clubs are aware that Howard Webb and his colleagues are open to calls at any point,” he admitted.

“Frankly I don’t understand why clubs feel the need to go public. I think it can sometimes be a little disappointing. We’ve all got a role to play in the perception [of refereeing] and perception can be driven by things that aren’t always borne out by the truth.”

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