Wolves unlikely to win vote but adamant VAR is damaging football



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Wolves’ proposal to scrap VAR is very unlikely to succeed, Sky Sports News has been told.

A number of sources have suggested they think it is very unlikely 14 clubs will vote in favour of the proposal when it is discussed at the Premier League AGM on June 6.

One senior Premier League club official said there is “no chance” of this proposal getting the support it needs to be passed. “It’s a protest vote. And I understand their frustration, but it won’t get through.”

That seems to be a sentiment shared by the majority of Premier League clubs.

Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol also confirmed on Wednesday that while the majority of Premier League clubs want to keep VAR, it doesn’t mean the clubs are happy with it and they want significant improvements – which the Premier League says are on the way for next season.

Analysis: Wolves adamant that VAR is damaging football

Sky Sports’ Rob Dorsett:

The sense I get is that Wolves themselves don’t expect their proposal to be passed, and VAR to be scrapped. But their hope is that such a fundamental statement will focus the minds of other clubs and Premier League officials to push for improved standards/systemic changes.

Wolves would strongly object to any suggestion that this is a protest vote. Club officials feel very strongly that this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to refereeing decisions that have gone against them this season. The club first raised this as a possibility with the Premier League a month ago, and discussed it with them directly last week.

As one source close to Wolves explained to me, they feel VAR is fundamentally damaging the “football experience” at the top level in England, and compromising the commercial value of the game as a sporting experience.

“The spirit of the game, which football fans have loved for more than a century, is being sapped out of the top tier,” one official said. “We have had VAR for five years and things are not improving. In fact, the Premier League product, as a spectacle, is getting worse. And we have to listen to our fans.”

A regular chant at Molineux this season has been “it’s not football anymore”, with widespread booing at every VAR decision – whether it is in the home team’s favour or not.

What do other PL clubs think?

Liverpool are among the clubs that would not support scrapping VAR, Sky Sports News understands..

While a leading Premier League executive from a separate club has told Sky Sports News “VAR is here to stay”.

There is a feeling among several top clubs that VAR is a help more than a hindrance, and that the focus should be on improving its application and communication with supporters, rather than scrapping it altogether.

In fact, scrapping VAR wouldn’t have helped Wolves in many of their complaints against refereeing decisions this season. Their last-minute penalty claim against Manchester United in August – which Howard Webb admitted should have been awarded – was not given by the on-field referee. Similarly, the penalty given against Wolves in October when they played Newcastle – when there appeared no contact on Fabian Schar – would still have gone against Wolves if VAR didn’t exist.

It is interesting that Nottingham Forest aren’t making any comment at this stage, after they have been so openly critical of refereeing decisions and standards this season. My understanding is that they want to see how the arguments develop, and gauge the mood of other Premier League clubs before revealing their hand.

Like Wolves, however, with the vast majority of Forest’s complaints this season, scrapping VAR wouldn’t have led to them getting more decisions in their favour. Their complaints focussed on the VAR not intervening to alter an on-field decision.

It is clear there is widespread frustration with VAR among Premier League clubs – but the feeling is that it is more about the standards of the decision-making, rather than the system itself.

There are concerns from many officials in football that it would be a big mistake to change the PL rules by scrapping VAR, when VAR is still very much part of UEFA European competitions. They think it would be very difficult for clubs and players to adjust to radically different systems in the Premier League compared to the Champions League.

What are Wolves’ main frustrations and objectives?

Wolves want more right decisions to be called correctly
Stats from the Premier League show that VAR has achieved this: 82 per cent of referee decisions were deeemd correct pre-VAR, with the number rising to 96 per cent this season after VAR’s introduction). But there are still some very high profile, key errors being made – most noticeably Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool at Tottenham being incorrectly ruled out for offside and Forest not being awarded a penalty at Everton last month.

A lack of communication/transparency with spectators in the stadium.
The Premier Leagie’s own hierarchy share this frustration, and are lobbying IFAB hard for the rules to be changed to allow some referee decisions – in the first instance, when refs go to the monitor to review a decision themselves – to be explained to the crowd.

Speed of decision-making
This is a very difficult issue for the PGMOL. Howard Webb said after the Diaz mistake that “accuracy should never be prioritised over efficiency”. What do fans and clubs want? More correct decisions but with the acceptance that will lead to slower decisions, or fewer correct decisions but with less disruption to matches and the match-day experience for supporters?

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