VAR is work in progress, says Neil Swarbrick
Premier League's head of VAR Neil Swarbrick: "We are in the infancy with VAR. You need to give us time to operate and utilise it"
Last Updated: 11/11/19 4:47pm
Premier League fans may have to wait years to see VAR implemented at the same level as in cricket and rugby union, says the league's VAR chief Neil Swarbrick.
Rugby union introduced the Television Match Official was in 2001, while in cricket, the third umpire has been used since 1992 and the Decision Review System was introduced in 2008, with technology now an accepted part of each sport at the highest level.
Meanwhile, the Premier League has waited until this season to use VAR and it has faced teething issues.
But Swarbrick, the Premier League's head of VAR, says: "It is working as we wanted.
"We are in the infancy with VAR, 12 match weeks into the Premier League season, and you need to give us time to operate and utilise it.
"It's taken quite a few years for other competitions or sports - the likes of cricket and rugby union - to get to where they are today regarding technology. It doesn't happen overnight.
"Stick with us, it's a work in progress. We'll look at incidents that have happened and look to improve as this goes forward. As we've said, this will evolve."
Are VAR delays unacceptable?
Referee chief Mike Riley is understood to believe the long delays over contentious VAR decisions are unacceptable and remain the biggest problem facing the new system.
The general manager of the PGMOL faces a grilling from the Premier League's 20 clubs this Thursday on the use of VARs, following another weekend of controversy.
Privately, the PGMOL believes that VAR will only be widely accepted when long delays are eradicated and they have made it a priority for VAR teams to reduce both the length and frequency of the delays.
Despite this, they are confident that this will become less of an issue as the VARs become more experienced and fans become more accustomed to how the system is designed to work.
Frustrating breaks in play at Goodison last weekend and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday suggest they still has some way to go before the problem is eradicated.
However, despite reports over the weekend, it's thought the PGMOL is unlikely to recommend that referees start using the pitch-side monitors regularly - a move they believe will only increase the number of delays to play.
At Thursday's crucial meeting, Riley is also expected to produce data to prove that VAR has already seen a significant reduction in the number of wrong decisions made by officials.
So far this season, VAR has overturned 29 Key Match Incidents (KMI), which would have gone unchallenged before this campaign.
In recent years, referees got an average of 82 per cent of Key Match Incidents correct, with PGMOL officials now confident that figure will be nearer 90 per cent.
It's expected that the Premier League will use the fortnight break in fixtures to explain more clearly how referees are using the technology - in particular in incidents of handball and offside - and what they are doing to eradicate mistakes.
Analysis: Referees need an international break
Sky Sports' Gary Neville said on his weekly podcast:
"I think the referees need an international break. They need two weeks off.
"Just to regroup and to reset. VAR should not go away - and I know at the moment it's getting a battering from left, right and centre. I think they've caused themselves a problem with the parameters they set at the start of the season.
"I was really sure that the 'clear and obvious' and the bar they had set around overturning decisions would cause them a problem.
"I thought not going to the monitors with the on-field referee would cause them a problem. I think we're quite arrogant sometimes in this country to think we can come up with a better system when there are competitions and countries that have been using this system for years. Why didn't we just look at what they were doing?
"Yes, it's not ideal, it's not the perfect system. But, we did change what VAR has been in other countries by saying referees would not go to the monitor. At that point, it's down to Stockley Park and the consistency of the VAR referee.
"I thought it was wrong at the beginning, but for the first two months of the season they were getting it right, but they were not overturning anything hardly and every on-field decision was going through.
"But all of a sudden, a switch was flicked three or four weeks ago and now, they're in a pickle - they're inconsistent.
"They've got to make a big decision: either go back to how they were at the beginning of the season, which is not to overturn nearly any decision unless it's an offside or 'clear and obvious'.
Or they say, 'Stockley Park is going to have less of an influence, it's going to deal with offside, and anything we're unsure about we're just going to refer to the on-field referee and let him have a look at the monitor.'"
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