Don't mention the VAR?

VAR is coming to the Premier League

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Should the Premier League be adopting VAR?

By Joe Harker

For some VAR is a good tool for referees to have when trying to make the right decision, for others it's an awful new thing that slows down games and follows the letter of the law rather than the spirit.

An increasing number of competitions are adopting VAR or trialling the technology and now the Premier League will be using it from the upcoming season onwards.

Whether the Premier League should be adopting VAR or not, it will be doing so in the upcoming season after agreement from clubs, but will people come to welcome it?

The Claim:

Refereeing chief Mike Riley has insisted that the use of VAR in the Premier League will be heavily regulated to avoid it becoming a tool for "re-refereeing the game".

VAR has something of a mixed record in previous uses, while the 2018 World Cup in Russia was seen as a positive turning point for the technology its use at the Women's World Cup has resulted in a number of contentious decisions.

The Premier League hopes that setting out a clear list of conditions for consulting VAR will prevent it from interrupting the flow of games without just cause.

They hope that by setting a very high bar for incidents that would lead to the use of VAR will allow the game to flow and prevent referees from using it to double check all of their decisions.

Riley did warn that it would take "two or three years" for the Premier League to become fully accustomed to VAR.

The Counter Claim:

One of the most common arguments against VAR is that it ruins the fun in games, a sentiment shared by Bournemouth and England striker Callum Wilson.

He thinks the technology, which has been used in England during the FA Cup and Carabao Cup last season, will turn the game into a stop-start affair where a quick decision made by the officials turns into a long pause.

Football thrives on momentum, with the crowd and players wanting to see the game being played as often as possible without interruption.

There's a reason why referees were permitted to play advantage instead of blowing the whistle for every foul, even breaking the rules ought to come second to the flow and enjoyment of the game.

Besides, competitions that have struggled with VAR have tended to have referees with a low amount of training with the technology. Premier League referees will have to learn on the job, likely causing mistakes and disruptions that will dampen enjoyment of the game.

The Facts:

VAR was trialled at times during 68 games last season, on average eight incidents per game were checked and the average stoppage took 29 seconds to deal with.

95 per cent of incidents were reviewed before the game naturally restarted, while the longest check took 118 seconds during the FA Cup replay between Southampton and Derby County because of a number of difficult offside calls.

Certain incidents will be replayed on screens if they are available in the stadium in an effort to explain the reasoning behind decision making to match going fans. For stadiums without large screens PA announcements and information transmitted from the scoreboard will have to suffice.

VAR will look at goals, penalties, direct red card offences and cases of mistaken identity.

The Premier League has calculated that the accuracy of decisions for a Key Match Incident (KMI) was 82 per cent last season, it is hoped that this figure will be increased to 87 per cent.

VAR comes in for so much flak but perhaps people have forgotten how often incorrect refereeing decisions left fans coming away from games feeling hard done by. VAR gives frustrated fans a name to their pain, it is a lightning rod for criticism whereas individual mistakes can be lumped on, well, the individual.

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