VAR here to stay but facing possible changes, says Premier League chief

  • VAR here to stay but facing possible changes, says Premier League chief

VAR here to stay but facing possible changes, says Premier League chief

Ladbrokes have cut the odds on the Premier League abandoning the use of VAR in the 2020-21 season from 3/1 to 2/1 amid continued criticism within the football fraternity.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters launched a strong defence of the clubs' betting links on Tuesday, despite concerns that the strong association has led to a rise in problem gambling and addiction, particularly amongst children.

VAR was introduced to the Premier League in August 2019 to try and resolve controversial decisions, but it has arguably complicated matters further for managers, players and fans, causing consternation in stadiums up and down the country.

The delay experienced in stadiums waiting for goals and other decisions to be reviewed is an inevitable effect of introducing the technology, he said, and suggested frustration could be eased with referees' greater use of pitchside review screens, because supporters can see the process happening.

The Premier League will strongly resist any attempts by government to limit shirt sponsorship by betting companies with the clubs determined to carry on selling advertising space to the highest bidder.

VAR has been brought in to the Premier League to decide on goals, penalties, red cards and offside decisions. "I don't think you can have VAR without acknowledging that [delay] is going to happen".

"We are going to have a debate about what sort of VAR they would like next season and what improvements can be made to the system", he said.

Meanwhile, in his first major media interviews, Masters said he does not believe homegrown player quotas will improve the fortunes of the England team.

The FA want to reduce the maximum number of non-homegrown players permitted in 25-man squads from 17-13.

According to Masters, YouGov's results generally matched the league's results on fans "perception of VAR, which will be passed on to clubs at the shareholders" meeting on Thursday.

"We have to come up with a different system", he said.

Challenged about whether this relaxed approach to clubs promoting gambling was consistent with the Premier League's commitment to its community programmes, which carry out social inclusion and education projects with deprived and vulnerable people, Masters responded: "We're not sniffy or judgmental about gambling at all". Clubs should still be able to acquire the best talent and support a cohort of homegrown players coming through the system.

"I think it's here to stay", Masters said of VAR, "and certainly it's going to be with us next season".

Technology when used in an efficient manner can enhance a sport like it does in rugby and tennis, who both use similar systems to reach debatable decisions, but right now VAR in football is threatening to spoil the top level of world's most popular sport.