Premier League has to prove its virtues to avoid government regulation
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The Premier League will keep Video Assistant Referee (VAR) next season and beyond after the top-flight’s clubs voted to retain the technology.

Announcing the result in a statement today following the league’s annual general meeting (AGM), the Premier League did not disclose how many clubs had voted in favour or against.

However, according to the BBC, 19 of the Premier League’s 20 clubs voted in favour of retaining VAR, with one voting against. It is thought that Wolverhampton Wanderers is the sole team to have voted for removal.

VAR was added to the Premier League’s AGM agenda last month after Wolves called for a vote on its future. The West Midlands club explained its view that “the price we are paying for a small increase in accuracy is at odds with the spirit of our game”.

Wolves is not the only club to have criticised VAR this year. Arsenal, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest have all made comments about the quality of officiating during the 2023/24 season. 

It seems Wolves was not able to convince any of these clubs to support its cause at the AGM. However, the Premier League has not been unanimously supportive of VAR, stating that improvements need to be made.

The Premier League’s statement read: “Premier League clubs today voted in favour of continuing to operate VAR in the Premier League. 

“While VAR produces more accurate decision-making, it was agreed that improvements should be made for the benefit of the game and supporters.

“As part of thorough discussions at the Annual General Meeting, it was agreed that PGMOL, the Premier League and clubs all have important roles to play in improving the system and its reputation.”

Since its introduction in English football in the 2019/20 season VAR has been a source of controversy for some fan sections. Common criticisms are delays to gameplay, and taking away from a games’ atmosphere by making decisions a cause for celebration.

The league itself has noted that VAR is not perfect even prior to Wolves’ motion and today’s vote. In an article back in February, league Chief Football Officer, Tony Scholes, noted that VAR checks often take too long.

“Clearly everything in the world of VAR is not perfect,” he said. “We’re aware of that and we know we have got work to do. 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.”

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