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Wolves trigger Premier League VAR vote

Wolverhampton Wanderers will trigger a vote on VAR at next month’s Premier League Annual General Meeting. The club are calling for VAR to be removed entirely in time for the start of the 2024/25 season. 

Wolves said VAR’s introduction was made “in good faith” by all parties but concluded that it had “led to numerous unintended negative consequences that are damaging the relationship between fans and football”.

Wolves 1877 Supporters Trust are incredibly pleased that Wolves have proposed the Premier League scrap VAR. VAR has taken the enjoyment out of the game we all know and love with such little benefit.

Wolves statement concludes that “the price we are paying for a small increase in accuracy is at odds with the spirit of our game” calls for VAR’s removal from 2024/25 season onwards.

Wolves were also praised by their supporters’ trust for engaging their fanbase in the process which has led to the club tabling a resolution at the league’s annual meeting.

Wolves 1877 Trust: “We are pleased the club have listened to concerns raised by the supporters trust, focus groups and the wider fan base and taken the issue to the Premier League.”

Here at the FSA we’d encourage all clubs to engage with their supporters’ groups on important issues which affect the matchday experience – and VAR is certainly one of those. Credit to Wolves for doing so and we hope to see other clubs follow that lead.

FSA survey stats

Almost 10,000 fans took part in our National Supporters’ Survey 2023 – with only one in 20 (5.5%) of fans who had experienced VAR in stadiums rating their experience of it as good or very good.

We first asked about video technology to assist referees in 2017 and 74.6% of fans were in favour of trials. Now they’ve seen VAR in action, only 26.8% said they were absolutely or somewhat in favour of it, while 63.3% were against it.

More than three-quarters of matchgoers (79.1%) and two-thirds of TV viewers (65.4%) rated their experience as either poor or very poor.

Delays to the game were a major negative with 91.9% saying decisions take too long to make while 80% of respondents wanted to hear discussions between the VAR and on-pitch officials.

Almost half of fans in the women’s game (45.5%) support the introduction of VAR while one-third third (33.1%) are against its use.

We also ran a VAR-specific survey in 2021 which more than 33,000 supporters completed. The results then were pretty damning too, with only a quarter of respondents saying they supported the use of VAR.

95% of those who had experienced VAR in-stadium and 94% who had watched matches on TV said that VAR had made watching football less enjoyable, at that time.

The counter argument

While the majority of supporters oppose VAR, it’s important to acknowledge that others still support its use – and wrong decisions were still made before its introduction.

In fact, VAR has significantly increased the number of correct decisions made in games, say the Premier League and PGMOL. Prior to its use 82% of decisions were deemed to have been correctly called while that is now at 96%.

Its supporters also say semi-automated offside technology will enhance efficiency and speed up the whole process bringing it up-to-speed with goal line technology which runs, by and large, without controversy.

While in-stadia communication can clearly be improved some of the suggested changes – such as the live use of officials’ audio within stadiums – is not currently allowed by FIFA so it isn’t something the Premier League or PGMOL can currently implement.

FSA event: VAR Roadshow

PGMOL’s VAR roadshow will also be at our annual conference giving you the chance to experience the VAR room first hand. Attendees can take part in a number of exercises that refs are put through as part of the use of video technology – register here.

 

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