VAR: What happens next?

08/11/19 6:00am

Premier League managers have met with PGMOL chiefs to discuss VAR

Premier League managers have held talks with referees` chiefs before a club meeting next Thursday. Here, Sky Sports News` chief reporter Bryan Swanson summarises the thoughts of some club officials ahead of the key discussion.

What`s the general mood?

The biggest frustration appears to be a perceived lack of consistent decision-making.

Clubs want VAR to work. They all unanimously agreed to its introduction, but some officials privately accept its implementation has not been as consistent as they expected.

VAR never promised to deliver 100% accuracy, but there is a sense that the brand reputation of the Premier League is also in danger of taking a hit.

The bar has been set way too high, warns one club official, in reference to the `high bar` set in place before referee intervention.

Clubs would rather everyone talked about the football, and not the officials.

Do clubs want referees to use pitchside monitors?

Some clubs are expected to push for referees to review the pitchside monitors before they overturn decisions. It is still too early to say whether the majority want a change to the current policy of using monitors `sparingly`.

Referees have yet to use pitchside monitors in the Premier League

Monitors have not been used in 110 Premier League games so far this season, against the broader recommendations of FIFA, but referees have never been banned from using them.

The referee always has the ability to go and look at the monitor if that`s what they choose to do, Mike Riley, PGMOL managing director, told Sky Sports News after a club meeting in September. We have to balance not impacting on the speed and flow of the game.

Clubs agreed with Riley before the start of the season, and did not want further delays during the game, but several clubs are expected to call on Riley to reconsider this approach.

At present, referees aren`t making the decisions and no-one knows who is, says one club insider.

Monitors simply have to be used more, and immediately, says another club source. We will push for that at next week`s meeting.

What about offside and handball decisions?

These are other significant talking points.

At present, Mike Riley is defending the indefensible, says one club source. Enough is enough, especially where offside is concerned.

Handball is another hot VAR topic up for discussion. Everton`s game against Tottenham provided another controversial moment

When you have two moving parts, potentially both moving at around 20 mph, we don`t have the technology to be completely accurate to judge when someone is offside.

For me, there has to be clear daylight between the defender and attacker to give offside. At the very least, officials need some latitude to decide that a clear and obvious error has not been made. Right now, it`s ludicrous. It`s not in the interests of football at heart and it`s not why it was brought in.

Another club official says: In terms of offside, the attacker was always given the benefit of the doubt. There always used to have to be clear daylight for the attacker to be offside. Now it`s down to a millimetre or the thickness of a player`s shirt. The interpretation of the offside rule has to change.

But another official disagrees and says: Offside is offside, you can`t be half-pregnant. Fractions are going to be important, so VAR is useful here.

Any change to the offside law would need to be made by football lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

Martin Atkinson discusses a VAR decision with Stockley Park

On handball decisions, one club official says: Dele Alli at the weekend (Everton 1-1 Tottenham) was a clear handball. Why wasn`t that given as a penalty?

Things can`t go on as they are. Why on earth did it take four minutes to decide whether it was handball? It`s either handball or it`s not. A quick visit to the monitors would have sorted it in a fraction of the time.

Are fans suffering inside stadiums?

This is another issue expected to be raised by clubs.

The `VAR in Progress` image comes up on the screens way too late, complains one club official. Hawk-Eye need to relay that information to fans much quicker.

The way information is shared with fans inside the ground has also been questioned

Speaking to Sky Sports News last month, one club chief executive said: Like anyone in football, we are supporters at heart. We are receiving complaints and we must protect the lifeblood of our game. Goals are such an important commodity and communication with the fans is vital.

No doubt our officials are still learning. At the last shareholders meeting, we agreed to give it 10 to 12 more games. But what`s clear is the fans within our stadiums have to be protected.

They added: For me, we have to show video clips of VAR incidents. However, I don`t think we should be able to hear open mic conversations between the officials. If the fan feels it`s better to be at home (to understand VAR), that`s not going to be good for the game.

Will we ever hear from officials?

Premier League referees may have their conversations relayed to supporters in the future.

But Mike Riley told Sky Sports News in August that any request to the game`s lawmakers is unlikely to be made before 2026.

He said: In time, in making sure that everyone understands decisions, you can see a rationale for it. But we`re not there yet.

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