What should happen next with VAR in the Premier League?

A 30 second time limit on decisions? ‘Umpire’s call’ element for offside calls? Just scrap it altogether? After the worst weekend yet for VAR in the Premier League, Sportsmail’s experts discuss what should happen next with controversial video technology

  • It was another controversial weekend for VAR in the Premier League
  • VAR official David Coote failed to spot stamp by Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso
  • Bournemouth saw goal disallowed and a penalty against them in same decision 
  • The technology has left managers, pundits and fans alike exasperated
  • Fractional offside calls and handball decisions by VAR have become the norm
  • But is the application of video technology ruining the Premier League? 

It was the worst weekend yet for VAR in the Premier League with a series of controversial and clearly incorrect decisions.

Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso was fortunate to remain on the field after a stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta’s shin in their game at Chelsea.

The same VAR official, David Coote, then missed a handball by Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne which should have resulted in a Leicester penalty in the teatime game.

VAR official David Coote failed to spot Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso stamping on Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta during another weekend of controversy for the video technology

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was left fuming after Lo Celso wasn’t dismissed for the tackle

And in between, Bournemouth saw a goal chalked off and play brought back for a Burnley penalty at the other end after VAR judged Adam Smith had handballed.

It’s increasingly clear that VAR’s strict application of the laws is sucking all the joy out of Premier League football and fans are turning off.

So what should be done about the video technology? Should things remain as they are, should the system be tweaked mid-season or should the Premier League scrap it entirely?

Sportsmail asked our writers for their views on the topic that’s dividing opinion up and down the country.

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe reacts after seeing a goal scored by his team disallowed and Burnley awarded a penalty for handball down the other end by VAR

Howe’s assistant Neil Moss was sent to the stands by Mike Dean by protesting the decision

This is not the technology the game thought it was signing up for. To quote Gary Lineker, who is wise on the subject, VAR is ‘shambolic and destroying the football experience.’ 

It has been implemented with woefully inadequate thought to parameters and consequences. Scrap it now and use the rest of this season at the very least to decide how it can be implemented properly – if at all. 

It is a scandal that the Premier League has not taken this action already. Who do the Premier League think they are – reducing the sport we all love to a farce?

The purple screens relaying VAR decisions have become a familiar sight in the Premier League


What would I do with VAR? First things first, I would get rid of Mike Riley. The Head of the PGMOL is the root cause of the nonsense we have had this season. 

He will not give his officials the responsibility to go to pitch side monitors; he has robbed on field officials of their authority. 

Added to that, he won’t face valid questions and the implementation of the rules has made everyone confused to the point that nobody knows what is offside and what is handball any longer. 

How can we have a version of VAR that is different to the Champions League? How can we have VAR in one competition but not in others? 

Riley and his colleagues will tell you that VAR is working how they want it but the arrogance of failing to sit down and have a legitimate discussion to see how things could be improved probably means things will not improve at all.

A referee consults a pitchside video monitor during a Champions League fixture this season


VAR isn’t the problem, it’s the rules it has to enforce. Sort out controversial rules like ‘armpit offsides’ and handball, and let VAR do its job.

The only thing I would change with VAR is giving the final say to the referee on the pitch. 

Let the man at Stockley Park alert the ref to any possible issues so he can review it on a monitor and make the call. Ideally, fans would also watch it simultaneously on a big screen.

That way, responsibility lies with the ref, and fans feel part of the process instead of having to wait for a remote decision taken miles away.

Wolves fans unfurl a banner protesting against the video technology at a recent match


You’d hope that it’d be feasible to show replays on big screens as they’re being checked so supporters know exactly what is going on, potentially being able to listen in to conversations between Stockley Park and the onfield referee. 

I wouldn’t actually have referees reverting to pitchside monitors as a first port of call because the reasoning for not doing so is sound: the Premier League want games to flow.


Goal-line technology works because people believe the accuracy, no matter how tight. The problem with fractional offsides is the final VAR decision may not be right. Have a time limit of 30 seconds.

If you can’t decide by then, it’s too close to call and not clear and obvious. With red card offences, like Lo Celso, get the match referee to check. 

He has a better feel of the game than an isolated figure at Stockley Park. Allow accidental handballs in build-up to goals – only rule them out if the scorer has handled.


VAR would be improved by the introduction of an ‘umpire’s call’ element for the tightest offsides, and the referee should be encouraged to check the pitch-side monitor. 

We must remember that this is a spectator sport. People do not fork out huge sums on tickets to sit staring at a big screen – with little idea why the game has stopped – while officials at Stockley Park draw lines and dots to determine whether a player’s little toe is offside. 

Build in a margin of error so the original call stands unless there is clear, immediate evidence that the referee or linesman has made a mistake.

VAR looks set to become a permanent part of the Premier League game even if many supporters and pundits would be happy to see it binned


I would not scrap VAR. People seem to forget how tiresome football became when all we heard was complaints about officials getting difficult decisions wrong without technology.

Some proposed changes:

1) The handball rules need to be altered to fit this age of slow-motion, multiple replays

2) Referees need to use the monitors more for the sake of accountability

3) On offsides, football needs to explore something akin to ‘umpire’s call’. Given the technology can’t be totally accurate, if the VAR cannot see quickly and clearly whether someone is offside (within one minute, for example), the onfield call stands.


Those in charge of the utter farce that this season has become need to face some sort of action.

But sacking those involved probably does more harm than good. We are limited on our list of decent officials, we need to up the numbers.

Pandora’s box is open with VAR – we most likely can’t go back now – so the best option is to try and get the best officials we can. Put the money into it, get the best referees you can, then let’s hope for the best from there.

Video technology has been used with microscopic precision on offside decisions 


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