Fans’ group welcomes Premier League plans for more information during VAR checks

A fans’ group has welcomed Premier League plans to provide more information during video assistant referee (VAR) checks but has called for them to go even further.

The implementation of VAR in the English top flight was discussed at length during a Premier League shareholders’ meeting on Thursday and referees’ chief Mike Riley admitted improvements needed to be made.

The one key change was to start displaying more information when a check is under way, something the league says will be introduced from December.

It is understood that giant screens will contain more information than they have up to now. For instance, instead of displaying ‘Checking Penalty’ it would now say ‘Checking Penalty – Possible Handball’.

“Going forward, and working within the IFAB (International Football Association Board) protocol, there will be increased information made available to attending fans and viewers watching around the world,” a Premier League statement said.

“This will explain in more detail what is being checked. Importantly, the Premier League will continue to show the definitive clip or image for all overturned decisions in stadia, and remains the only major European league to do so.”

The Football Supporters’ Association issued a cautiously optimistic statement to the PA news agency which read: “We’ve made clear to the Premier League that match-going fans have been left behind when it comes to VAR use in stadiums and it needs to be urgently addressed.

Mike Riley
Mike Riley

“We hope today’s announcement leads to an improvement for fans in the stadium and we’d also like better communication via PA systems and even pitch side advertising hoardings.”

The league said there would be no change to the existing protocol on the use of pitchside monitors, which referees will continue to use sparingly to ensure the “pace and tempo” traditionally associated with Premier League football is maintained.

West Ham co-chairman David Gold said VAR was “alive and kicking” and that improvements would be made over time.

“We have just got to be patient. Changes have to be made and they will be. It’s improving all the time and we’re confident we’re doing the right thing,” he told Sky Sports News.

David Gold was upbeat about VAR after the shareholders' meeting
David Gold was upbeat about VAR after the shareholders' meeting

He said he “could not support” the idea of using the pitchside monitors more regularly.

“We’re going to have a referee who’s been running around for an hour who has got to run all the way over to the pitchside to watch events – that’s not right, we can’t do that.

“I think people want it to be improved and I think improvements will come. I have every faith in VAR. It is alive and kicking, I promise you.”

The average time to complete a check was recorded at 33 seconds, and the average time for an overturn was 75 seconds.