Wednesday 21 August 2019

'I have no doubt it will create controversy but we are prepared for that' - Premier League chief on VAR roll-out

Man City won the Premier League last season
Man City won the Premier League last season

Andy Hampson

The Premier League accepts there will be controversies over the use of VAR next season.

The competition will start using video technology from the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign next month having delayed its introduction for a year.

There have been problems with the system in other competitions and the people behind its use in the English top flight recognise there will be challenges.

Richard Masters, interim chief executive of the Premier League, said: "I have no doubt it will create some controversy because it is about the big decisions but we are prepared for that.

"We have spent two years working up to this point, and we were committed to doing it in our heads for two years.

"We have been training and testing and making sure when it happens, particularly on Saturday afternoons when we have got multiple matches going on, that we have a number of VARs trained.

"We feel that is done and we are ready to launch it."


Having seen VAR in operation elsewhere, the Premier League has looked at how it feels the system can operate most effectively. It is intended that there will be fewer stoppages for referees to consult monitors than seen in other events such as the Champions League last season or Women's World Cup over the summer.


Masters said: "I think fans want to see those clear and obvious mistakes changed and put right.


"But they don't want to see the Premier League or English football interrupted, or the pace of the game changed.


"I think the only difference you might see is the referees using the referee review area a bit more sparingly and relying more on the VAR for the more subjective decisions.


"But we are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises. We've got to let it happen first and keep an open mind about whether it is really working."


Masters was speaking in China where he has been attending this week's Premier League Asia Trophy matches in Nanjing and Shanghai.


He feels the event, which has featured Manchester City, West Ham, Newcastle and Wolves, has been a success and is likely to return to the country in the near future.


He said: "Although we've only been to China twice in the nine (Asia Trophies) we've done, I think we may be coming here more regularly."


The Asia Trophy has previously been regarded as a precursor to the potential playing of competitive fixtures abroad - the so-called '39th game' - but Masters insists that controversial concept remains off the table.


He said: "We will only do it when the conditions are right and at the time (it was suggested) there was a lot of pushback from various parties. We decided not to proceed. I don't think the time is now. It may be in the future."


The Premier League are currently carrying out a feasibility study into the possibility of taking over the running of professional leagues in women's football from the Football Association.


"It might happen in several years time," Masters said. "We agreed with the clubs we were going to look at it - in conjunction, not a takeover - with the FA."


Masters is now a strong contender to become Richard Scudamore's long-term successor as Premier League chief executive but the recruitment process is still ongoing with no timescale on an appointment.


Masters said: "It is business as usual. At some point that situation will positively resolve itself."

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