VAR is where we expected it to be – Swarbrick

Referees’ chief Mike Riley has told Premier League clubs that “improvement is required” with the video assistant referee system.

The technology has caused frustration and controversy since its introduction at the start of the season.

At a meeting on Thursday, Riley gave a full appraisal of VAR with clubs discussing their “grave concerns”.

The Premier League has promised to improve VAR’s consistency and speed and increase communication with fans.

The league will also lead a consultation with “fans and other relevant stakeholders” on the technology.

Riley spoke for just under two hours at what was described as a fractious four-and-a-half-hour meeting before it was decided no substantive changes would be made this season for fear it would affect the integrity of the competition.

“The Premier League and Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) are committed to improving the consistency of decisions, speeding up processes and increasing communication to fans,” the league said in a statement.

“There is not going to be any significant change this season,” West Ham co-chairman David Gold said after the meeting.

“There was a lot of debate but this is a brand new system, so we just have to be a bit more patient. What I can say is that VAR is alive and kicking.”

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow added: “Clubs have got grave concerns but so has everybody in the room. We’ve had a very robust discussion.

“The message has got through to the league and to the referees’ association that fans are unhappy, and many stakeholders in the game think we have to do a whole lot better.

“I expect to see real improvements in the speed of decisions, consistency of which is what everybody craves, and I think above all else for those of us in the stadia we want much better communication about what’s going on before, during and after.

“I think if we get those three ingredients then things will look a whole lot better in a few months’ time.”

The league has brought in VAR this season to decide on goals, penalties, red cards and offside decisions.

But a number of high-profile incidents have been criticised, with inconsistencies in decision-making and the length of time it takes to give a verdict.

Speaking earlier this week, the Premier League referees’ lead on VAR Neil Swarbrick told BBC Sport he would rate the introduction of the technology as a seven out of 10 so far.

Criticism of VAR have included the lack of communication with fans and referees not using pitchside monitors.

In response, the Premier League has said there will be increased information made available to fans at the stadium and the TV audience to explain in more detail what is being checked.

It also reemphasised that pitchside monitors would be “reserved for unseen incidents or when information from the VAR is outside the expectation range of the referee”.

“Ensuring the pace and tempo of Premier League football remains an important focus for clubs,” the league added.

It added: “Research will now take place with fans, and other relevant stakeholders, to understand their views on how the application of VAR could be best improved.”

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