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VAR will cause ‘controversy’ admits Premier League chief

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View of the VAR screen during the Copa Sudamericana last 16 football match at the Brigadier Gral Estanislao Lopez stadium in Santa Fe, 470 km northwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 11, 2019. (Photo by MARCELO MANERA / AFP)

Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters admits VAR is certain to cause “controversy” when the technology makes its English top-flight debut in the forthcoming season.

The video referee system will be used for the first time in the Premier League after its introduction was delayed for a year to allow time to develop the system.

VAR has been used in England in the FA Cup and League Cup, as well as in numerous other foreign leagues and tournaments including the Champions League.

It hasn’t been a huge success, with complaints from managers and fans about the slowness of the system and mistakes made by the officials.

“I have no doubt it will create some controversy because it is about the big decisions but we are prepared for that,” Masters said.

“We have spent two years working up to this point, and we were committed to doing it in our heads for two years.

View of the VAR screen during the Copa Sudamericana last 16 football match at the Brigadier Gral Estanislao Lopez stadium in Santa Fe, 470 km northwest of Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 11, 2019. (Photo by MARCELO MANERA / AFP)


“We have been training and testing and making sure when it happens, particularly on Saturday afternoons when we have got multiple matches going on, that we have a number of VARs trained. We feel that is done and we are ready to launch it.”

Masters is adamant the Premier League has looked at ways to ensure VAR operates effectively, taking lessons from the initial use of the system elsewhere.

He hopes there will be fewer stoppages for referees to consult monitors than seen during other events such as the Champions League last season or the recent Women’s World Cup.

“I think fans want to see those clear and obvious mistakes changed and put right,” Masters said in China, where he has been attending the Premier League’s pre-season Asia Trophy.

“But they don’t want to see the Premier League or English football interrupted, or the pace of the game changed.

“I think the only difference you might see is the referees using the referee review area a bit more sparingly and relying more on the VAR for the more subjective decisions.

“But we are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises.

“We’ve got to let it happen first and keep an open mind about whether it is really working.”


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