Premier League set for new VAR staff despite rate of ‘incorrect’ calls dropping

The use of VAR continues to be a hot-button issue as mistakes get scrutinised in great detail but statistics since the World Cup point to an improving picture.

According to figures gathered by an independent key match incidents panel – which sits every week and comprises of three former players or coaches, one Premier League representative and someone from referees’ body PGMOL – there have been just four incorrect interventions from match rounds 17 to 30.

It works out to an average of one every 37.5 games in the English top flight, while before the World Cup in Qatar there were six incorrect interventions – or one every 24.3 matches.

Missed interventions have fallen from 12 to seven while VAR errors for on-field offences are down from 18 to 12 post-World Cup, with 83 correct interventions in this season to date.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 19, 2021: Referee Paul Tierney checks the VAR monitor before sending off Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The numbers seen by the PA news agency are unlikely to placate those who have fallen foul of some decisions, with pressure growing on PGMOL chief Howard Webb, who earlier this month apologised to Brighton when VAR failed to recommend a review for a penalty in their 2-1 defeat to Tottenham.

At the weekend, Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper was bemused his side did not get a penalty in their 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester United as, with the score goalless, a corner appeared to strike Harry Maguire’s outstretched arm.

Referee Simon Hooper did not point to the spot and VAR official Andy Madeley chose not to overrule, leading Cooper to say: “For VAR not to give it, they apologised last week and are going to have to apologise again, which means absolutely nothing.

“I don’t think it’s your headline why we lost the game, but I don’t think these errors should be happening.”

PGMOL chief Howard Webb has come under pressure over VAR’s use (Simon Peach/PA)

Webb, meanwhile, is targeting a new team of VAR specialists in a bid to carry on improving its effectiveness.

A new VAR manager will be in situ in the summer to replace the outgoing Neil Swarbrick, supported by VAR coach Phil Bentham and a growing management team under the guidance of Webb.

Former Premier League assistant referee Adam Gale-Watts has also been appointed in the newly-created role of technical director.