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Premier League clubs have voted to retain VAR for the 2024-25 season, as a motion by Wolverhampton Wanderers to abolish the video review system was roundly defeated at the league's annual general meeting.

CBS Sports understands that Wolves were the only club to vote in favor of the abolition of the system, introduced in the 2019-20 season. However representatives for the league's 20 clubs did spend an hour in dialogue over improvements that must be be made to the system, according to sources, with significant pressure placed on referee chief Howard Webb and Tony Scholes, chief football officer of the Premier League. Given that the announcement included a renewed commitment for "a high threshold for VAR intervention" clubs are hoping that this bar will be raised for 2024-25.

The past 12 months in particular have seen numerous controversies surrounding the role of video assistant referees, most notably a Liverpool goal being incorrectly ruled out against Tottenham and a penalty denied to Wolves in the opening round of games for what seemed to be an obvious foul by Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Systemic issues, including the time it takes to make decisions, remain, though the latter should be addressed by the implementation of a semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) in the autumn of the 2024-25 season. The Premier League's statement acknowledged that "improvements should be made for the benefit of the game and supporters."

The league added that six areas had been the focus of discussion between its 20 clubs:

  1. A high threshold for VAR intervention to deliver greater consistency
  2. Reducing delays through VAR, partly through SAOT and through the high threshold
  3. Improving the experience for fans in the stadium, including "an enhanced offering of big screen replays to include all VAR interventions"
  4. Improved training for officials on VAR, to be implemented in collaboration with referee body PGMOL
  5. Greater transparency on VAR processes
  6. A "fan and stakeholder VAR communication campaign"

The league added that it will "continue to lobby IFAB [football's lawmakers] to allow greater flexibility in the laws of the game to allow live video and audio broadcast during VAR reviews."

It had long been expected that Wolves' proposal would fall someway short of the 14 votes required to eliminate VAR but the 19-1 margin is as near to an endorsement of the technology as the Premier League and PGMOL could have hoped.

In response, Wolves said, "While we are disappointed with the outcome of the vote on the future of VAR at today's annual general meeting, we acknowledge and accept the decision made by our fellow clubs and we are reassured that the Premier League is taking the concerns of clubs and supporters seriously.

"We welcome the commitment to improve VAR, particularly in areas that address delays, consistency, and fan experience. While we still believe that Premier League football would be superior for supporters, players, coaches and viewers without VAR, we think that these improvements are crucial for the integrity of the game and for enhancing the overall matchday experience for our supporters.

"Wolves remain committed to working closely with the Premier League and PGMOL to ensure that VAR continues to evolve and better serve the interests of football. We appreciate the efforts being made to address the issues that we have highlighted in our resolution and look forward to seeing whether the changes implemented this summer can reverse the decline in matchday experience for our fans, and respect for our officials."

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