BROUGHT in primarily to reduce controversy, VAR can hardly claim to have been a great success, writes Richard Pask.

Indeed, many fans who championed its introduction have now expressed second thoughts.

One of the principal problems has been the conflation of the rules themselves with their implementation.

Another has been the inordinate amount of time taken to reach some decisions, with spectators being kept in the dark.

Yet another has been confusion over who is really in charge: the referee on the pitch or the person in the VAR studio.

Here, our guest contributor discusses seven major changes to help VAR move forward.

1. Revise key rules

ALTERATIONS must be done in a democratic and relevant manner, with the implementation of modified rules solely in the hands of the officials on the pitch.

VAR use should be strictly limited. This allows disputed decisions to be reviewed while retaining the immediacy and human element which is central to the game.

Three central rules up for modification include awarding a penalty for handball; awarding a penalty for other forms of foul play and allowing/disallowing a goal based on an offside judgement.

The various television companies should work together to compile a comprehensive cross-section of 100 examples of each type of decision.

These would include those which evoked differing degrees of controversy, from none to outrage, penalty decisions where the player didn’t go to ground and offsides based both upon lines being drawn on a screen and other factors.

2. Managers have input

THE 20 Premier League managers could then come together over a series of days to review all 300 examples, giving individual, anonymised verdicts in each case.

Crucially, managers are voting on the decision they would like to see enacted in each case, irrespective of what did or didn’t happen in reality.

Here, anonymity is essential in order to encourage complete freedom of choice.

3. Form a VAR committee

BASED upon the amalgamated results, a small committee would then be established to reframe the rules.

Let the results fall as they may. If more than 16 managers out of 20 vote in a certain way, it will convey a particular message.

Where the vote is completely split it will simply emphasize the contentious nature of the game and perhaps engender some sympathy for the officials.

This would allow managers far greater ownership and hopefully reduce subsequent disputes.

4. Publicise the results

A DVD containing all 300 examples, together with the amalgamated results, should be made available to all and distributed as widely as possible.

Finally, the exercise could be repeated every five years; either using the same examples, which would permit direct comparison, or updated ones.

5. Penalty, or no penalty?

VAR would not be initiated when a manager believes a penalty should have been awarded for his team but has not been. Admittedly, this is a major compromise.

On the plus side, it keeps the game flowing and prevents the ludicrous situation of play being recalled long after an incident has taken place; on the minus side, as was the case in the past, some legitimate penalties will not be awarded.

However, this issue would be partially mitigated through the new, clearer rules.

During the course of a game VAR would only be initiated when requested by one of the managers and be based solely upon the following three scenarios – in all of which the ball has gone dead.

Where a penalty has been awarded against them, either for handball or another form of foul play, and they are disputing it; where a goal has been awarded against them and they are disputing it; where a goal they have scored has been disallowed and they are disputing it.

6. Create a challenge system

SIMILAR to current video review systems in cricket and tennis, each manager would be permitted a maximum of three challenges, with one additional challenge in the event of extra-time.

Any challenge must be made within 30 seconds.

At this point the referee, who will have sole authority, will go to the monitor at the side of the pitch and review the incident with re-runs to be shown on screens to fans at Premier League grounds.

7. Two-minute rule

UNLESS the referee feels there is compelling evidence to the contrary, the original decision will stand.

The review should take no more than two minutes; the term ‘compelling’ removing the justification or need for endless re-runs.

In the event of an offside decision based upon a line being drawn on a screen, a decision might be reversed on the basis of just a few centimetres – or whatever the tolerances of the equipment permit.

Although the assistant referee could hardly be blamed in such an instance, it would nonetheless be compelling evidence and no more fair or unfair than goal line technology.

Note also that such small margins of error would still be in force even if a ‘clear daylight’ version of the offside rule were to be adopted.

In conclusion, the use of VAR in football will always involve a trade-off between an unattainable perfection in officiating and the warts-and-all excitement which millions of fans love.

Getting the balance right is critical to its ongoing popularity and this proposal seeks to meet that need.


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