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Premier League clubs vote against scrapping VAR despite Wolves calling to abolish system from next season

Premier League clubs were asked to vote on the abolition of VAR from next season; Wolves tabled a proposal that was heard at the Premier League clubs' AGM on Thursday; majority of clubs want VAR to be improved, rather than removed

Referee Andrew Madley checks the pitch side VAR monitor for a potential penalty
Image: Referee Andrew Madley checks the pitch-side VAR monitor for a potential penalty

Premier League clubs have voted against scrapping VAR.

Wolves - who were on the receiving end of several controversial VAR decisions this season - tabled a vote to abolish the system, saying it is "undermining the value of the Premier League brand".

But at the Premier League clubs' annual general meeting (AGM) on Thursday, Wolves' proposal was knocked down.

Sky Sports News has been told Wolves were the only club to vote for VAR to be scrapped.

Wolves said in a statement: "While we are disappointed with the outcome of the vote on the future of VAR at today's Annual General Meeting, we acknowledge and accept the decision made by our fellow clubs and we are reassured that the Premier League is taking the concerns of clubs and supporters seriously.

"We welcome the commitment to improve VAR, particularly in areas that address delays, consistency, and fan experience.

"While we still believe that Premier League football would be superior for supporters, players, coaches and viewers without VAR, we think that these improvements are crucial for the integrity of the game and for enhancing the overall matchday experience for our supporters.

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"Wolves remain committed to working closely with the Premier League and PGMOL to ensure that VAR continues to evolve and better serve the interests of football. We appreciate the efforts being made to address the issues that we have highlighted in our resolution and look forward to seeing whether the changes implemented this summer can reverse the decline in matchday experience for our fans, and respect for our officials."

Premier League looking to improve VAR

All the other 19 clubs voted for it to continue, with certain criteria for improvement.

Any change to Premier League rules requires at least 14 of the 20 clubs to vote in favour. The majority of clubs favour VAR but want improvements to be made, rather than scrapping the system entirely.

Earlier this season, Tony Scholes, the Premier League's chief football officer, claimed correct decisions had increased from 82 to 96 per cent since VAR's introduction.

He told Sky Sports: "VAR is, and remains, a very effective tool in supporting the match officials on the pitch."

However, Scholes admitted: "We are 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."

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Sky Sports senior reporter Rob Dorsett explains why the proposal to scrap VAR in the Premier League is unlikely to happen and the measures needed to improve the process.

The Premier League, its clubs and referees' body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) acknowledged that improvements needed to be made for the benefit of the game and supporters.

Semi-automated offside technology is set to be introduced in the autumn, which top-flight sources say will reduce the length of time required for offside checks, while in-stadium announcements will be made where an on-field decision is changed following a VAR intervention.

The Premier League said the "high threshold" for intervention would also be maintained.

The Premier League also hopes to improve the fan experience of VAR by offering big screen replays of all VAR interventions where possible.

The league said it would work with PGMOL on "more robust" training for officials to improve consistency, including an emphasis on speed while preserving accuracy. The league also promised "expanded communications" on VAR from its match centre and through continuing with programmes like Match Officials Mic'd Up.

The league said it will also continue to lobby the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which sets the laws of the game, to allow live video and audio broadcast during VAR reviews.

Premier League statement in full

Fans and players wait for VAR to adjudicate whether a late West Ham goal should stand
Image: Fans and players wait for VAR to adjudicate whether a late West Ham goal should stand

Premier League clubs today voted in favour of continuing to operate VAR in the Premier League. While VAR produces more accurate decision-making, it was agreed that improvements should be made for the benefit of the game and supporters.

As part of thorough discussions at the Annual General Meeting, it was agreed that PGMOL, the Premier League and clubs all have important roles to play in improving the system and its reputation. As part of ongoing work to improve VAR, six key areas were focused on as part of discussions with clubs:

  1. Maintaining a high threshold for VAR intervention to deliver greater consistency and fewer interruptions to the flow of the game.
  2. Reducing delays to the game, primarily through the introduction of semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) and the maintained high threshold for VAR intervention.
  3. Improving fan experience through a reduction in the delays, in-stadium announcements from referees after a post-VAR change of decision and where possible, an enhanced offering of big screen replays to include all VAR interventions.
  4. Working with PGMOL on the implementation of more robust VAR training to improve consistency, including an emphasis on speed of process while preserving accuracy.
  5. Increasing transparency and communication around VAR - including expanded communications from Premier League Match Centre and through broadcast programming such as Match Officials Mic'd Up.
  6. The delivery of a fan and stakeholder VAR communication campaign, which will seek to further clarify VAR's role in the game to participants and supporters.

It was confirmed in April that Semi-Automated Offside Technology will be introduced in the autumn of 2024. The technology will provide quicker and consistent placement of the virtual offside line, based on optical player tracking, and will produce high-quality broadcast graphics to ensure an enhanced in-stadium and broadcast experience for supporters.

The Premier League and PGMOL will continue to lobby IFAB to allow greater flexibility in the Laws of the Game to allow live video and audio broadcast during VAR reviews.

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