Mike Riley: Premier League VAR changes will see end of offsides for toenails and noses this season

After coming under heavy fire over the last two seasons, the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) are to introduce subtle changes to an official's use of VAR this campaign; approach is a move away from 'forensic scrutiny' in attempt to have more free-flowing games

There will be subtle changes to an official's use of VAR this Premier League campaign
Image: There will be subtle changes to an official's use of VAR this Premier League campaign

Players will be given the benefit of the doubt this season as goals won't be ruled out for offside due to toenails and noses, Premier League referee chief Mike Riley has said.

After coming under heavy criticism over the last two seasons, the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) are to introduce subtle changes to an official's use of VAR this campaign.

The dreaded lines used to work out marginal offside decisions are now being made thicker in order to give the advantage back to the attacking side.

According to Riley, the move away from 'forensic scrutiny' will eradicate goals being ruled out when a player's toe or nose was in an offside position and see around 20 goals more scored throughout the season.

"Fundamentally, we want the approach to be one that allows players to go out and express themselves and let the game flow," Riley said.

"It means the VAR teams will not intervene for trivial offences and the threshold for referee and VAR intervention will be slightly higher than it was last season.

"We've introduced the benefit of the doubt for the attacking player so where we have a really close offside situation, we will follow the same process as last year but now apply thicker broadcast lines.

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The results of a Football Supporters' Association poll released at the end of last season found that the majority of fans were not happy with how VAR was working in the game

"Effectively what we have done is given back 20 goals to the game that were deemed offside last season by using quite forensic scrutiny.

"So it's the toenails, the noses of players that were offside - they won't be offside now."

There were a raft of other decisions where goals did not stand due to players' armpits being offside, but FIFA has now stated the armpit is the part of the body where offsides will be measured from.

Referee Kevin Friend points to the spot during Newcastle United's game against Manchester City last season
Image: Referee Kevin Friend points to the spot during Newcastle United's game against Manchester City last season

There will also be a tweak in the approach toward penalties after a record high of 125 were awarded last season.

This season, the referee should not only establish whether there is clear contact but whether it had enough of a consequence in order to award a penalty and whether the player used the contact to try to win a foul or a penalty.

"It's not sufficient to just say there was contact," Riley added. "Contact on its own is only one element the referee should look for.

"If you have clear contact, that has a consequence, it's a foul but if you have any doubts, in these elements they are unlikely to be penalised.

"You also want it to be a proper foul and not the slightest contact that someone has used to go over to get a penalty."

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There is also a change in the much-maligned handball rules, which will now see goals that had an accidental handball by a team-mate in the build-up stand.

Furthermore, in the first two years of VAR, viewers not in the stadium were able to see the working out process and it led to screenshots of borderline decisions being shared and creating more negativity for the decision-review system.

As a result, all decisions will be made off-screen from now on.

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