Howard Webb hints at major VAR stadium change set to impact Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham

Referee Simon Hooper before giving a red card to Liverpool's Curtis Jones against Spurs
Referee Simon Hooper before giving a red card to Liverpool's Curtis Jones against Spurs -Credit:Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Howard Webb has vowed to improve the VAR experience for match-going fans and revealed that referees in the Premier League could soon be made to explain their decisions to those in stadiums.

Since VAR's introduction to the Premier League in 2019, one of the major criticisms of the technology has been how those attending matches are often left in the dark about decisions after a referee has visited the pitch-side monitor.

However, Webb, who returned to England as the Chief Refereeing Officer of the Professional Game Match Officials Board [PGMOL] last season, has admitted that the current decision-making process for decisions assisted by VAR "needs improving" in light of the penalty Brighton & Hove Albion were denied at Brentford at the start of April.

The 52-year-old refereeing chief has admitted that the Premier League are exploring ways they could enhance the VAR experience for match-going fans and revealed that discussions are underway about whether a transparent communication system, seen at last summer's FIFA Women's World Cup, could be introduced to the English game.

"It does need improving, doesn't it," said Webb on the Premier League's Match Officials Mic'd Up programme. "When you hear the clips on shows like this it makes sense what's happening. It all becomes apparent and actually you'll hear the referee, Andy Madley, having been to the screen saying, 'I’m going to speak to Lewis Dunk to explain why the penalty that he feels he should have isn't going to happen because he's fouled Wissa before that.' We're looking at ways to improve the in-stadium experience.

"One of the things you'll have seen maybe in FIFA tournaments, like the Women's World Cup, is announcements from the referee once they've been to the screen. So we're looking at that, we're keeping an open mind about whether that's something we could utilise in the Premier League.

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"For situations like this it would be really useful for the referee to be able to speak to all of the people in the stadium - [to explain] the rationale for why you didn't give a penalty because of the foul that happened before the penalty appeal when Dunk fouled Wissa."

After a successful trial last year, the International Football Association Board [IFAB], the game's law-makers left it up to each league's discretion as to whether referees would be able to announce their decisions, after visiting the pitch-side monitor, to those in the stadium. Since then, Liga MX, MLS and the Australian A-League have all introduced the policy.

If such changes were introduced to the Premier League, incidents like Michael Oliver's U-turn to award Tottenham Hotspur a penalty in the second half of Sunday's North London Derby, after consulting the pitch-side monitor, would be explained by the referee immediately.