'Nonsense': Fans fume over radical EPL overhaul

Premier League clubs have agreed in principle to introduce video assistant referees (VAR) from the start of next season, they said on Thursday.

The top leagues in Spain, Italy and Germany are already using VAR, which allows disputed incidents to be reviewed with the use of video replays, and the technology was used at the World Cup in Russia this year.

The English clubs were provided with an update on this season’s VAR trials, with key examples of its use in the FA Cup and League Cup discussed in detail.

“The League will now formally make a request to the International Football Association Board and (world body) FIFA to use VAR next season,” the Premier League said in a statement.

VAR was trialled during the FA Cup and League Cup. Pic: Getty

The decision comes after contentious refereeing decisions overshadowed a 1-1 league draw between Southampton and Watford last weekend.

Southampton striker Charlie Austin demanded the introduction of VAR after his goal was disallowed by referee Simon Hooper, who deemed Maya Yoshida to have interfered with the ball from an offside position.

The English top-flight was one of the first leagues to adopt goal-line technology in 2013 but had voted unanimously against VAR ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, instead agreeing to continue testing the system.

Initial trials in English domestic cup matches last season received mixed reviews, with fans often complaining that they were being left in the dark when decisions were made.

VAR was a controversial addition to the FIFA World Cup. Pic: Getty

The VAR system uses a match official who monitors video footage of the game for incidents that the on-pitch referee and his assistant referees might have missed, such as determining goals, red cards, penalties and cases of mistaken identity.

The use of VAR was hailed as a success by FIFA after the World Cup in Russia, which saw 455 incidents checked in 64 matches at an average of 7.1 per game. Those incidents led to 20 reviews, with 17 decisions changed as a result.

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey believes the time is right for the league to use the technology.

“I think it is a good thing. I know a lot of people are against it but we’ve got to embrace it now and move forward,” he told the BBC.

EPL fans took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the huge change, with many condemning the decision and worrying for the future of the league.

Other fans supported the call however, saying it was about time the Premier League adopted the technology.