LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 14, 2018: Referee Craig Pawson studies a pitch-side television monitor as he reviews a foul before awarding Liverpool a penalty using VAR during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Premier League referees could explain VAR decisions live from NEXT season

Though rules are unlikely to permit live VAR audio to be broadcast in stadiums, there is a belief that Premier League referees can explain their decisions.

That could come into effect as early as next season, with PGMOL chief Howard Webb suggesting that referees could address fans live when consulting the pitchside monitor.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Match Officials: Mic’d Up, Webb said the refereeing group would be “keeping an open mind” over changes.

“One of the things you’ll have seen maybe in FIFA tournaments, like the Women’s World Cup, is announcements from the referee once they’ve been to the screen,” he explained.

“So we’re looking at that, we’re keeping an open mind about whether that’s something we could utilise in the Premier League.”

This would go to some length to ease the growing frustration among clubs, players and fans over a drop in standards in refereeing in recent years.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 10, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks to referee Michael Oliver after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, that it would only be permitted – due to IFAB rules, not those of PGMOL themselves – when referees went to the pitchside monitor shows it will only solve a small issue.

It is rare that officials are referred to the monitor, with lengthy VAR calls more often than not only communicated via the referee’s headset.

READ: VAR audio of Everton vs. Forest penalty farce reveals more issues with referees

In fact, there is a consensus that, when referees are sent to the monitor to make their own check, the decision is already made and the initial on-field call will be overturned.

That may render live announcements less useful than hoped, with fans still left to await the occasions in which VAR audio is released by PGMOL themselves.

Those instances are typically reserved for Webb’s visits to Sky Sports, where he analyses various decisions in a pre-taped show alongside Michael Owen.

His most recent appearance came on Tuesday, as VAR audio was broadcast for one of three penalty shouts during Nottingham Forest‘s 2-0 loss to Everton.

A week-and-a-half on from the incident, and with Forest having already dropped three points at Goodison Park, the verdict that VAR Stuart Attwell made an error in judging Ashley Young’s foul on Callum Hudson-Odoi not worthy of a penalty is little help.

Nevertheless, any progress made in clearing up lines between those paying to watch the game and those paid to officiate should at least be considered positive.