Paul Pogba in discussion with referee Kevin Friend in United's match at Brighton in August 2018.

Premier League clubs agree to VAR for next season

Premier League clubs have agreed in principle to introduce Video Assistant Referees (VAR) from next season.

The endorsement comes seven months after the clubs voted against introducing it for league games in the current 2018/19 season, preferring it to be trialled in FA Cup and Carabao Cup matches and tested further behind the scenes.

VAR is already in place in the Bundesliga in Germany and Serie A in Italy, and was used during the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia. It made its debut in English football in an FA Cup tie between Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace back in January. 

HAS IT BEEN USED IN UNITED GAMES?

The technology has been utilised in four Reds matches to date – including, most recently, our Carabao Cup tie against Derby County at Old Trafford back in September.

It caused controversy during the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Huddersfield Town last season when a Juan Mata goal was contentiously chalked off by the VAR for offside following a lengthy delay, but it mattered little in the end as United went on to win 2-0.

Goals: Huddersfield 0 United 2Video

VAR was also deployed in United’s 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Brighton at Old Trafford and the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea in the final of the same competition at Wembley last term.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

The decision follows a meeting of shareholders today (Thursday) when clubs were given an update on the non-live VAR trials, which are being undertaken this season by the league in conjunction with Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL) – the body responsible for match officials.

Key learnings from VAR’s use in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, as well as in other leagues across the world including Germany and Italy, were discussed in detail during the meeting.

The Premier League’s non-live testing programme will remain in place for the remainder of the 2018/19 campaign, with a continued emphasis on Saturday afternoons when several matches are being played concurrently and developing a clear protocol for communicating VAR decisions to fans.

The league will now formally make a request to the International Football Association Board and FIFA to use VAR next season.

WHAT IS VAR?

The aim of the system is to produce more accurate decisions, more often, and at the most important points in matches.

It involves the match referee on the field making the same calls as they would without the system in place. However, the VAR – which is a current or former top-level referee – is in place to check decisions on four key incidents:

- Goals, including 'missed' attacking offences in the build-up
Penalties awarded and not awarded, including 'missed' attacking offences in the build-up
- Direct red cards
- Cases of mistaken identity where the wrong player is shown a red or yellow card

Paul Pogba in discussion with referee Andre Marriner.
Premier League referees are set to benefit from additional support when making decisions next season.

The referee can accept the information relayed through his earpiece by the VAR team, an option usually reserved for objective calls of fact such as if a player is offside. Or, for more subjective decisions such as red cards and penalty-box fouls, he can review the footage on a pitch-side television monitor before deciding whether to change his initial call.

The VAR team will also proactively contact the referee if they spot “a clear and obvious error” around these four types of incident or a “serious missed incident” - usually off-the-ball violence.

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