FSA calls for ‘vast improvement’ to VAR as it’s making football ‘less enjoyable’

·3-min read

Fans want to see vast improvements in how VAR is used in the Premier League, according to the Football Supporters’ Association.

There were a string of VAR controversies in the last round of top-flight fixtures, with the Premier League asking for information from the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) organisation which manages referees concerning the decisions to disallow goals for West Ham and Newcastle on Saturday.

PGMOL accepts incorrect decisions were made in those incidents. The VAR at the Newcastle match, Lee Mason, has not been given a Premier League appointment for this weekend’s games.

The controversies have reopened the debate about how VAR is used, and the FSA says supporters generally remain unhappy with it.

“We’ve made clear to PL that the overwhelming majority of match-goers and TV viewers think VAR makes football less enjoyable. Vast improvements needed,” the FSA tweeted on Tuesday.

It continued: “From day one we’ve been critical of VAR’s implementation. We supported goal-line technology as it has proven instantaneous and doesn’t interrupt flow of the game. The same cannot be said for VAR.”

An FSA survey published last summer found 95 per cent of 33,000 felt VAR had made football less enjoyable and that only one in four now backed it.

The FSA thread detailed a series of meetings between itself, the league and PGMOL since 2018.

Referee Andrew Madley consults the pitchside monitor during the West Ham v Chelsea match before disallowing a goal by Maxwel Cornet
Referee Andrew Madley consults the pitchside monitor during the West Ham v Chelsea match before disallowing a goal by Maxwel Cornet (Steven Paston/PA)

It said: “Our next PL/PGMOL meetings will be scheduled soon and we’ll continue to try and improve things for match-going fans when it comes to VAR’s use in stadiums.

“Communications, speed, accuracy. It’s an issue that isn’t going away.”

Former Premier League referees’ chief Keith Hackett has criticised current PGMOL general manager Mike Riley over what he sees as a lack of leadership, saying match officials had been “hung out to dry” amid criticism of VAR and were not receiving adequate guidance or coaching on the use of the system.

Hackett said VAR in England was “too forensic” while BBC pundit Alan Shearer feels its use in this country has moved too far away from the ‘minimum interference, maximum benefit’ philosophy behind it when it launched, and said it should only be used to correct clear and obvious errors by the on-field officials.

Newcastle were denied what would have been a winning goal against Crystal Palace on Saturday when Mason advised on-field official Michael Salisbury to check for a foul by Joe Willock on Eagles goalkeeper Vicente Guaita as the pair collided.

Replays suggested Willock had been shoved into Guaita by Tyrick Mitchell, who the ball then came off and went into the net.

A West Ham equaliser from Maxwel Cornet at Chelsea was ruled out after VAR Jarred Gillett advised referee Andy Madley to review. The Australian official spotted what he thought was a foul by the Hammers’ Jarrod Bowen on Blues goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.