Nothing in football splits opinion quite like the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and the impact it has in making key decisions.
Despite receiving tons of backlash during its first full Premier League season (2019/20), VAR will continue to be utilised by referees next season, but some tweaks have been made in the hope it will become a more effective system.
Shareholders at a Premier League’s Annual Meeting were in agreement that VAR should remain for the 2020/21 season, in line with FIFA protocol.
Manchester United’s official website have confirmed four changes to VAR that we can expect to be implemented next season.
It was baffling to see pitch-side monitors used so sparingly by on-field referees last season. This should change in the next campaign, with officials now encouraged to go pitch-side and check replays on contentious decisions.
Goalkeeper encroachment on penalties
United received 14 penalties in the 19/20 season, the most in the Premier League. They converted 10 of those, with a successful rate of 71.4%.
Next season, penalties will be retaken if if a goalkeeper’s foot is off the line and they save the spot-kick. But if a player misses the target while the ‘keeper is off his line, the referee will not order a retake.
Player encroachment on penalties
In a key rule change, referee’s can only penalise players for encroaching on spot-kicks if they have a direct influence on the play. This could be attempting a rebound or making a clearance after a save.
There were countless debatable offside decisions that went to VAR last season, but the Premier League have confirmed that any ball-playing part of the body that is past the line of the last defender will be deemed offside with no tolerance.
Also, when an attacking side has a goalscoring chance, linesmen will now keep their flag down until the passage of play is over before raising the flag if they believe there was an offside.
This avoids the confusion that ensued last season when some players would carry on and others wouldn’t when a player was clearly in an offside position.