Premier League clubs hate their fans. That’s why they’ll vote to keep VAR.

17 May 2024, 15:00

VAR is ruining football
VAR is ruining football. Picture: Alamy
James Perkins

By James Perkins

VAR is awful. It ruins celebrations, delays the match and often gets it wrong anyway. Those three things are incontrovertible. You may be reading this fully in favour of VAR – but you cannot deny those three facts.

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Yet, next month, Premier League clubs are going to get the opportunity to scrap it and will gleefully say ‘no thanks’. Why?

Because elite clubs do not care about their fans. Because they don’t need to.

Such is the global powerhouse of the Premier League, fans will come to games no matter how shabbily they’re treated or how much money they’re charged. Fans have no power. It’s why six clubs felt they could sneak off to a European Super League without so much as a consultation with their supporters.

Can you think of the last decision made in the top-flight that benefited fans? The £30 cap on away ticket prices seemed a decent move (but of course that just led to all clubs charging the maximum £30 for every game). Apart from that, every decision takes football further away from fans.

Top-flight football has been de-democratised. If you conducted a vote of season ticket holders, you’d have a unanimous decision to get rid of VAR. But this isn’t going to be a vote of season ticket holders. This is going to be a vote decided by clueless billionaires who’ve not been in an away end for decades, if ever.

All the time, profit-motivated decisions are being made by clubs that hurt fans. Friday night kick-offs to sell more matches to Sky, season ticket concessions being stripped away to squeeze more out of fans, diabolical characters keeping contracts so they can be sold on abroad.

But why VAR? In part, I suppose, it’s to keep bureaucrat mates in high-paid positions at the top of football so they can busy themselves with ‘innovations’ like fifteen minutes of injury time or Golden Goal. But there’s not really a financial incentive for clubs when it comes to VAR, so why are they keen on it?

It’s because of an obsession with footballing ‘justice’.

The Premier League has its own data which claims correct decisions have increased from 82% to 96% since VAR’s introduction. But ‘correct’ is subjective in football. And does anyone who watched football this season really believe it was ‘more correct’ than it was in 2018?

And do these ‘correct’ decisions actually improve football? Go back to why we brought in offside, for example. It was to stop players gaining an unfair advantage. Are attackers getting any real advantage for being one toenail ahead of a defender? Was disallowing Coventry’s 120th minute winner against Man Utd ‘justice’?

I’d much rather watch a game where referees (like players) make mistakes, than a judicially perfect match that goes on for hours with endless interruption and delay.

Interventions from Harry Maguire and Jurgen Klopp today, arguing VAR should go, are welcome – but will inevitably fall on deaf ears.

This vote will be dismissed with a smile and a vague promise to ‘reform’ VAR.

I know, let’s add more technology! That’ll do it! The concept works, it’s just being executed wrong!

Enough. They are taking football away from us. And until it’s re-democratised and meaningful decisions are made by fans -not bureaucrats and billionaires - it will only get worse.

I’ll finish with the list of VAR harms that Wolves put together in triggering this vote. I dare you to disagree with a single one.

The negative consequences of VAR, according to Wolves
The negative consequences of VAR, according to Wolves. Picture: LBC

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