VAR given two key areas to improve as Premier League chief says it remains ‘nowhere near good enough’
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Premier League chief football officer Tony Scholes admits the in-stadium supporter experience of VAR is “nowhere near good enough” and believes reviews are taking too long.
Video assistant referees were introduced in the English top-flight for the 2019-20 campaign, yet there are persisting problems surrounding its implementation.
The Premier League say that most supporters they have surveyed are in favour of VAR, but Scholes acknowledges “that majority is not as big a majority as I would like to say it is”.
The league’s chief football officer says “clearly everything in the world of VAR is not perfect” and pinpointed two particular areas for improvement.
“If the objective of VAR is to improve the accuracy of decision making, it is being a significant success,” Scholes said. “We don’t rest on this. Further development, further improvement is always required.
“The two elements that I believe affects the whole reputation of VAR, given what I’ve just said about the improvement in the accuracy, 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, from ourselves, from you guys (in the media) as well and from supporters.
“But the reviews are taking too long and it’s affecting the flow of the game and we’re extremely aware of that and the need to improve that speed, whilst always maintaining the accuracy.
“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.”
In terms of improving reviews, Scholes says the Premier League is ensuring they “are doing all of the training and development to reduce the review times and the check times”.
The introduction of semi-automated offsides will also aid the speed of decision making and Scholes hopes to go to clubs for a decision on that later in the year after the test phase.
As for fan experience, Scholes says the Premier League’s desire for increased transparency is restricted somewhat by International Football Association Board rules.
“IFAB are very clear on their rules as to what we can and can’t say, both during the VAR process and post the VAR process,” he said. “They’re very clear at the moment we cannot use the audio, we cannot play the audio.
“My personal view is we’re on a journey and that will come and 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, I don’t know. That’s not in our hands, that’s decided by IFAB.
“But we will continue to lobby them to get to a place where VAR is as open, transparent and informative to supporters and all stakeholders as it is possible to do.
“One development that we are expecting to come in imminently, of course, is that the referee will announce their decision, post-VAR review to the crowd on the pitchside.”