What's happening with VAR this season?

Tuesday 03 August 2021 13:30

Premier League referee chief Mike Riley has explained the changes to VAR that will come into effect in 2021/22.

After criticism of the system last term, the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) are introducing alterations that will hopefully see fewer goals ruled out for marginal offside calls.

Crucially, the lines used to gauge such decisions are to be made thicker, which should prove more beneficial to the attacking team.

Mike Riley with Sir Alex Ferguson at Stamford Bridge.

There are also changes to the penalty interpretation after a record 125 spot-kicks were awarded in the division last season.

"Fundamentally, we want the approach to be one that best allows the players to go out and express themselves, allows the Premier League games to flow and means the refereeing team, both as referee and as VAR, don't intervene for the trivial offences," said Riley, the general manager of PGMOL.

"Let's create a free-flowing game, where the threshold is slightly higher than it was last season.

"On marginal offside, we've now effectively re-introduced the benefit of the doubt to the attacking player," he explained. "Where we have a really close offside decision, we carry on following the same process that we did last season with the one-pixel lines; we'll then put on the thicker broadcast lines and, where they overlap, those situations will now be deemed as onside.

"What we give back to the game is 20 goals that we would have disallowed last season by using quite forensic scrutiny. So it's the toenails, the noses of the players who are offside; they might have been offside last season but, next season, they won't be."

Contact now should prove insufficient in itself when awarding penalties for tangles inside the area and the use of VAR in the European Championship is being heralded as ensuring there is less intervention to enable the game to maintain its flow.

"The principles we established are the referee should look for contact and establish clear contact, then ask if that contact has a consequence, and then has the player used that contact to try to win a foul or win a penalty," Riley said. "It's not sufficient to say 'yes there's contact.'

"I think partly we got into that frame of mind by the forensic analysis that went on in the VAR world. Contact on its own is only part of what the referee should look for. Consider consequence and the motivation of the player as well.

"We'll take the positives from the Euros. Raising the threshold is a good thing, as is making sure the VAR only intervenes where we've got clear and obvious evidence. It's not going to be same experience but those principles and advantages we can harness for the benefit of Premier League football."

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Meanwhile, the Premier League has confirmed four new referees for the 2021/22 campaign.

Jarred Gillett will become the first Australian to referee in the division and he joins Michael Salisbury, Tony Harrington and John Brooks in stepping up to the top flight.