A Step Too VAR? Pressure Mounts on Premier League to Reconsider Use of Video Tech

VAR Pitch GraphicA prominent new survey from the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) has revealed the level of disillusionment amongst fans for VAR.

The FSA surveyed more than 33,000 supporters in a wide-ranging poll, and of them just 26% were in favour of the continued use of video technology to support or overturn decisions.

Alarmingly for Premier League chiefs, as many as 95% of fans said that VAR made football games ‘less enjoyable’ to watch, while nearly half said they would be less likely to attend a live game in the future.

Two factors – the time it takes for a decision to be reached and an inability to confidently celebrate goals – have been cited as the most damning factors behind the resistance to VAR.

Often, these surveys offer nothing more than an insight before being quickly forgotten, however it is known that the Premier League referee’s union is currently running a behind-the-scenes consultation to see how they can improve the implementation of VAR on matchday.

The vice chairman of the FSA, Tom Greatrex, believes the survey results show a clear need to improve how the tech is used and how its verdicts are communicated.

“There is a clear feeling among fans that VAR has ruined the spontaneity of goal celebrations, and taken away a big part of our most enjoyable matchday moments,” he said.

“We hope that the Premier League and referees’ body PGMOL will hear the fans’ voice and take urgent steps to improve a system that isn’t delivering clear and understandable decisions in stadiums.”

The hope is that ongoing changes will iron out the deficiencies in the technology, with a new automated offside system being trialled which would ensure that ridiculous decisions, such as Patrick Bamford’s finger being adjudged offside against Crystal Palace, are no longer an issue.

Did VAR Keep Burnley in the Premier League?

They say that decisions in football eventually even themselves out, although history shows that such a notion is absolute nonsense.

West Brom have every reason to be aggrieved. Analysis from ESPN found that their net VAR result was -6, meaning that the Baggies saw a difference of six goals given/ruled out that might otherwise have stood without video technology.

At the other end of the spectrum, Burnley – who finished seventeenth in the table – and Everton were most aided by VAR decisions, with their net return at +4.

In the end, 128 goals or incidents were decided upon by VAR in the 2020/21 season. More than 40 ‘goals’ were disallowed, mostly for offside but also for handball, while 34 goals that weren’t initially given were subsequently overturned.

As far as other action in the penalty area is concerned, some 22 spot kicks that were initially given were overturned following a VAR review while 29 penalties were awarded after the referee had initially waved away appeals.

Only 17 red cards were adjudicated upon by VAR, and just two were overturned by the video officials – one of those was for a case of mistaken identity.