VAR is alive and kicking says David Gold after Premier League meeting

VAR is where we expected it to be – Swarbrick

The Premier League will lead a consultation on how well the video assistant referee system is working but it is still “alive and kicking”, says West Ham co-chairman David Gold.

At a meeting of Premier League clubs on Thursday, referees’ chief Mike Riley gave a full appraisal of VAR, which has caused frustration and controversy since its implementation at the start of the season.

“There is not going to be any significant change this season,” said Gold.

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow said the clubs had “grave concerns” and VAR had to be a “whole lot better”.

Riley spoke for just under two hours at what was described as a fractious four-and-a-half-hour meeting before it was decided no substantive changes would be made this season for fear it would affect the integrity of the competition.

“There was a lot of debate but this is a brand new system, so we just have to be a bit more patient,” added Gold.

“What I can say is that VAR is alive and kicking.”

In a statement, the Premier League said: “Research will now take place with fans, and other relevant stakeholders, to understand their views on how the application of VAR could be best improved.”

Purslow added: “Clubs have got grave concerns but so has everybody in the room. We’ve had a very robust discussion.

“The message has got through to the league and to the referees’ association that fans are unhappy, and many stakeholders in the game think we have to do a whole lot better.

“I expect to see real improvements in the speed of decisions, consistency of which is what everybody craves, and I think above all else for those of us in the stadia we want much better communication about what’s going on before, during and after.

“I think if we get those three ingredients then things will look a whole lot better in a few months’ time.”

The league has brought in VAR this season to decide on goals, penalties, red cards and offside decisions.

But a number of high-profile incidents have been criticised, with inconsistencies in decision-making and the length of time it takes to give a verdict.

Speaking earlier this week, the Premier League referees’ lead on VAR Neil Swarbrick told BBC Sport he would rate the introduction of the technology as a seven out of 10 so far.

Improvement required – Riley

The Premier League said Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) managing director Riley has accepted that “improvement is required”.

“The Premier League and PGMOL are committed to improving the consistency of decisions, speeding up processes and increasing communication to fans,” the league said in a statement.

Criticism of VAR have included the lack of communication with fans and referees not using pitchside monitors.

In response the Premier League has said there will be increased information made available to fans at the stadium and the TV audience to explain in more detail what is being checked.

It also reemphasised that pitchside monitors would be “reserved for unseen incidents or when information from the VAR is outside the expectation range of the referee”.

“Ensuring the pace and tempo of Premier League football remains an important focus for clubs,” the league added.

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