VAR chief: System 'currently a seven out of ten'

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool handles the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City at Anfield on November 10, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Trent Alexander-Arnold appears to handle the ball (Credit: Getty Images)

Neil Swarbrick, Head of Implementation of VAR in the Premier League, believes the system is currently working at a ‘seven out of 10’.

Speaking on the BBC, Swarbrick said: “We have more decisions correct with VAR than without it. If the mark now is seven [out of 10], in two years’ time I’m hoping for maybe an eight and a half or nine.

“We are open to evolving with this – it’s not a case of ‘we’re not budging’. We will listen to feedback and where we can improve things we will do.”

English referee Neil Swarbrick is pictured during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Swansea City at Stamford Bridge in London on November 29, 2017. Chelsea won the game 1-0. / AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)
Neil Swarbrick was a PL referee for seven years (Credit: Getty Images)

VAR has been under scrutiny throughout the season, with a number of contentious decisions leading to severe criticism about its implementation. Last weekend, the potential handball decisions involving Trent Alexander-Arnold were front and centre during the clash between Liverpool and Manchester City, were the latest in high profile decisions that angered fans.

Premier League chairmen are due to meet on 14th November, with VAR being the most pressing matter.

In October, it was reported that VAR would be at the top of their agenda, in particular, a discussion about the use of pitch side monitors.

At the meeting, Mike Riley, the general manager of PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited), will address Premier League clubs.

Monitors are in use at all Premier League grounds, but referees have been advised to allow VARs (Video Assistant Referees) to minimise delays and not negatively affect the in-stadium experience, but the chairman now believe this is leading to incorrect decisions being made. The sentiment is that if the referees make the final decision, the technology will come under less fire.

Previously, Swarbrick told Yahoo Sport UK: “When trialling VAR we found referees were overturning 96% of decisions when they consulted monitors, because being told to look at the screen implied they had made a mistake. By trusting the VAR to help make the decision that was removed.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09: A screen inside the stadium displays a VAR check to a goal scored by David McGoldrick of Sheffield United during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on November 09, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
A screen inside the stadium displays a VAR check (Credit: Getty Images)

It’s unlikely that any major changes will be made during the current season, although there may be tweaks. One area that PGMOL agree needs improving is the experience of fans inside the stadium.

After 40 Premier League games PGMOL managing director Mike Riley admitted to four clear mistakes by VARs, including the failure to award two penalties. Last weekend, there were seven overturned decisions, with three penalties awarded by VARs, the most in a single round of top-flight games so far.

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