Premier League teams will soon vote on a ban on the use of a Video Assistant Referee, or VAR, ahead of the 2024/25 season. According to reporter David Ornstein, English top-flight officials are unified in believing that abolishing VAR will not benefit the league. Conversely, they believe the move would only create more incorrect calls throughout the season.

Nevertheless, teams have the right to at least vote on the issue. The collective club vote is set to occur at the league’s annual general meeting on June 6th. At least 14 of the 20 Premier League sides would have to vote to ban the use of the technology.

VAR was previously introduced in the English top flight back in 2019. The technology was implemented to help on-field referees make more correct calls. While this may be the case, officials in charge have also created a fair share of controversy as well. There have been a plethora of debatable decisions throughout the current campaign. The most high-profile VAR blunder came in a matchup between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in September.

Wolves write letter to inform Premier League officials of upcoming vote to ban VAR

Leading the charge to potentially ban VAR from the Premier League is Wolves. The club, through manager Gary O’Neil, has raised a series of concerns regarding the technology throughout the current campaign. In a recent letter sent to the Premier League, the West Midlands team informed officials that they would be triggering an official vote on the matter.

“There is no blame to be placed — we are all just looking for the best possible outcome for football — and all stakeholders have been working hard to try and make the introduction of additional technology a success,” wrote the club.

“However, after five seasons of VAR in the Premier League, it is time for a constructive and critical debate on its future. Our position is that the price we are paying for a small increase in accuracy is at odds with the spirit of our game, and as a result, we should remove it from the 2024/25 season onwards.”

A spokesperson for the Premier League acknowledged the letter to the aforementioned reporter. The official also admitted that “clubs are entitled” to vote on such matters. However, the spokesperson did put full support behind VAR and their referees.

English referees have given VAR a black eye

Wolves, and potentially other Premier League clubs, may feel as if VAR has directly affected their results throughout the season. Nevertheless, there is a bigger issue in the league than just the technology. VAR is part of various other top soccer leagues around the globe with only small problems.

English officials, however, have essentially given VAR a black eye due to continued controversial calls. In the end, the multiple mistakes during matches are due to direct decisions by Premier League referees. While there may not be a perfect solution at the moment, scrapping VAR would put even more emphasis on bad calls by on-field English officials.

Another problem with officiating is the International Football Association Board’s (IFAB) verbiage. The independent body is currently responsible for soccer’s official laws of the game. Rules written by the group state that VAR officials can only intervene if there is a “clear and obvious error” or “serious missed incident.” This can, and has, hindered some VAR officials from stepping in and helping to make correct calls.

The Premier League is attempting to make positive tweaks to VAR. This, of course, is assuming that clubs do not scrap the technology altogether next month. Semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) is coming to the league at some point in late 2024. In-stadium VAR announcements are also in the works.