The addition of Video Assistance Referee (VAR) technology to the Premier League has undoubtedly been a success so far. On-field referees have the support of a VAR team that is located off-site. They will check for any incorrect decisions that need to be changed. If necessary the referee can even review the footage on the pitch side monitor.
VAR has provided referees with technological assistance in several different forms. Overall, more professionals are involved in decision-making during the fixtures in football’s biggest league.
The ability to change decisions retrospectively after reviewing the footage has been revolutionary in developing the league’s objectivity and competitiveness but there is still room for improvement.
Without VAR Aston Villa would not have made Europe
Aston Villa qualified for the UEFA Europa Conference League due to their Premier League performances this season. They began poorly under Steven Gerrard, but after his dismissal, Unai Emery came in and revitalized the talented Villa squad. The Villains are currently offered at a price of +300 in a Premier League bet to finish in the top six next season, which suggests a guaranteed place in Europe will be difficult for Emery’s side to achieve.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) June 22, 2023
Villa is far from European regulars in the modern game, yet VAR and its ability to overturn decisions have meant that incorrect on-field decisions have not cost them a rare European place for next season. The Premier League table without VAR shows that Villa would have finished in ninth place if the technology was not in place – two places lower than their actual finish.
VAR overturns allowed Villa to gain an extra five points, as they finished on 61 compared to the 56 they would have achieved if referees stuck to their on-field decisions. Without modern technology, the Midlands side would have missed out on a European tour, with another team undeservedly taking their place.
This shows that while VAR has room for improvement, it has certainly been a success so far. It has helped protect the integrity of the league, by ensuring incorrect decisions do not have a significant bearing on the final league standings.
VAR has benefited the league but is far from perfect
VAR has certainly been a success in the past few Premier League seasons. In the past season, it even ensured that the European spots were not unfairly decided by incorrect decisions. But it does also make mistakes due to the element of human error being present even in retrospective reviews.
The technology certainly impacted the league’s competitiveness and overall fairness for the better. However, it also did not make a number of overturns that it should have done. It has been proven that were a number of occasions in the 2022/23 season in which controversial decisions were allowed to stand.
VAR is an excellent form of technology that has massively aided the integrity and objectivity of the Premier League as a competition. It helps to ensure that teams receive the results and subsequent point totals that they deserve. However, there is still work needed in order for the technology to be even more accurate in its decision-making.
📣 #PLFixtures for the 2023/24 season have arrived!
— Premier League (@premierleague) June 15, 2023
The system needs to be used consistently for the same types of controversial decisions from next season onwards. The same judgment needs to be made for similar sorts of handball decisions and penalty claims. If all teams are treated equally in terms of the alterations that VAR makes, then the league can reach an eventual peak of objectivity.
VAR is beneficial, but its potential has not been reached yet. Perhaps further growth in the implementation of the technology will be seen next campaign.