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

Luke Bradshaw
Sports Writer
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.”

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.”

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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