Liverpool back VAR to continue in Premier League after Wolves want it scrapped

Credit: PA Images

Liverpool FC have backed the use of VAR in the Premier League next season despite calls to scrap it.

It is believed the Reds want the system to continue and improve, despite the club being on the wrong end of one of the highest-profile officiating errors of the season.

Jurgen Klopp has called for the team's match against Tottenham to be replayed when a Luis Diaz goal in October was wrongly ruled out after miscommunication between on-field referee Simon Hooper and VAR Darren England.

In an audio recording of the decision England can be heard stating Diaz was onside, before accidentally confirming the referee's original decision to disallow the goal.

Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag does not believe it is possible to find a “way back” when it comes to video technology and favours ironing out flaws in the present system.

When asked about the VAR debate, Ten Hag said: “I don’t think there is a way back. So, in principle it makes the football more fair but there are some problems.

“I think we have to find solutions for those problems, so we have to make improvements.”

Another top-flight club have also indicated their support for VAR but wished not to be named.

A further unnamed club said they would not vote to scrap VAR, citing the inconsistency it would create for those teams playing in Europe, and that it would amount to five years’ investment going down the drain.

The early expressions of backing for VAR follow Wolves submitting a resolution on Wednesday 15 May calling for a vote to scrap the system at the league’s annual general meeting.

Wolves’ supporters trust has also called on fans of other teams to lobby their clubs in an effort to scrap it.

“VAR has taken the enjoyment out of the game we all know and love with such little benefit,” the Wolves 1877 Supporters Trust said in a post on its X account.

“We now back all supporters trusts of Premier League clubs to come together to ensure their clubs vote in favour of removing VAR and giving us back our game.”

VAR system checking a possible offside Credit: PA Images

Meanwhile, it is understood there will be no discussion or vote among Championship clubs about introducing VAR into the second tier next season.

Witnessing the Premier League’s experience is understood to be a factor that has contributed to a collective lack of enthusiasm among Championship clubs, along with cost considerations.

The Football Supporters’ Association posted details of its summer 2023 survey on Thursday morning, which included questions to the respondents around attitudes to VAR.

It found only one in 20 (5.5%) of fans who had experienced VAR in stadiums rated their experience of it as good or very good.

Almost two-thirds (63.3%) were against its continued use, with 91.9% criticising the length of time taken to make decisions and 95 per cent saying the removal of spontaneity from goal celebrations was a chief concern.

The Premier League says it fully supports the continued use of VAR but acknowledges the need for improvements.

Anfield Stadium, home of Liverpool FC Credit: Press Association

The league’s Chief Football Officer Tony Scholes admitted in February that the in-stadium experience of VAR was “nowhere near good enough”.

The league is set to trial a protocol seen at the 2023’s Women’s World Cup where referees communicate the final outcome of a VAR review to fans in the stadium.

Scholes said the league was also “on a journey” towards being able to broadcast live audio. Currently the laws of the game forbid it, but the league is working with the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to progress the issue.

Clubs also voted to introduce semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) in the autumn, which league sources say will speed up the average VAR check for offside by 31 seconds.

The league also points to the greater number of correct decisions since VAR’s introduction. In the final season before it came in, 2018-19, the league said 82% of ‘key match incident’ decisions were correct. That figure with VAR assistance is now 96%.