Premier League clubs to vote on scrapping VAR after Wolves lodge resolution

Wolves are campaigning to get VAR scrapped from the Premier League next season.

The Molineux club have been on the end of several controversial refereeing decisions this season and believe the decision review system is “undermining the value of the Premier League brand”.

They have submitted a resolution to trigger a vote at the league’s AGM in June and will need 13 of the other 19 clubs to agree with them. They are likely to canvas other clubs in order to gain support between now and next month’s meeting.

The Premier League does not believe scrapping VAR is the right way forward.

Wolves said in a statement: “The introduction of VAR in 2019/20 was a decision made in good faith and with the best interests of football and the Premier League at its heart.

“However, it has led to numerous unintended negative consequences that are damaging the relationship between fans and football, and undermining the value of the Premier League brand.

“The decision to table the resolution has come after careful consideration and with the utmost respect for the Premier League, PGMOL and our fellow competitors.

“There is no blame to be placed – we are all just looking for the best possible outcome for football – and all stakeholders have been working hard to try and make the introduction of additional technology a success.

“However, after five seasons of VAR in the Premier League it is time for a constructive and critical debate on its future.

Wolves say VAR is
Wolves say VAR is “undermining the Premier League brand” Mike Egerton/PA)

“Our position is that the price we are paying for a small increase in accuracy is at odds with the spirit of our game, and as a result we should remove it from the 2024/25 season onwards.”

Wolves have felt hard done by over a raft of decisions throughout the season, with boss Gary O’Neil regularly receiving apologetic phone calls from Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) chief Howard Webb.

They feel particular areas of concern are the impact on goal celebrations, the length of VAR checks and lack of communication in the stadium, a change from its original purpose of correcting clear and obvious errors and an erosion of the on-field referee’s authority due to their reliance on VAR.

A Premier League spokesperson said: “The Premier League can confirm it will facilitate a discussion on VAR with our clubs at the Annual General Meeting next month.

“Clubs are entitled to put forward proposals at shareholders’ meetings and we acknowledge the concerns and issues around the use of VAR.

Wolves boss Gary O'Neil has had regular phone calls with Howard Webb
Wolves boss Gary O’Neil has had regular phone calls with Howard Webb (Mike Egerton/PA)

“However, the League fully supports the use of VAR and remains committed, alongside PGMOL, to make continued improvements to the system for the benefit of the game and fans.”

The Premier League, who is in regular dialogue with the PGMOL, believes the number of incorrect decisions would increase without VAR which could impact the league’s reputation even further.

However, Wolves’ move was welcomed by former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland skipper Roy Keane, who said it might actually help referees.

Speaking in his role as a Sky Sports pundit, Keane said: “The officials are going to be criticised, of course, but listen, they have a really tough job.

“VAR was maybe supposed to help them but I don’t think it has helped them. I think there’s more self-doubt for the officials than anything else. Yes, referees can have a hard time but maybe this might make their lives a little bit easier.”

Fellow pundit Wayne Rooney was equally supportive, saying: “I’ve been vocal on VAR – I don’t like it. If it’s there and you get all the decisions right, then fair enough, but it’s taking all the enjoyment out of the game.

“We’re still getting human error with VAR, so if we’re going to still get that, let them just do it on the pitch because otherwise it’s just slowing everything down. It’s taking minutes and minutes to get to the decision, which is still a human being making the final decision.”

Newcastle forward Anthony Gordon was scathing of VAR after his penalty appeals were ignored in his side’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester United on Wednesday night.

With Newcastle trailing 1-0, Gordon appeared to be pushed in the back by Sofyan Amrabat and was left with a torn sock before Casemiro swooped in and cleared, with referee Robert Jones and VAR Jarred Gillett deciding not to intervene.

Gordon told Sky Sports: “I’m quite fond of the idea (of VAR), it should be a thing that works in the league but it’s not. There’s constantly too many mistakes.

“It’s a clear, clear and obvious mistake. I don’t know how you can get it wrong, so either get rid of it or get better. It’s very simple. I honestly don’t see the point in it. I really don’t.”

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe would back a repeal of VAR, telling Sky: “I’ve always been in era where the referee makes the decision and I’d still back that, even if it means we don’t get penalties like today. I think there are more positives than negatives.

“I’d possibly keep it for offsides but I’d like more power with the referees.”

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