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Home   /   PGMOL Announce They are on the Hunt for New Chairman Amidst Refereeing Chaos.

The official refereeing group for the Premier League (PGMOL), have recently stated they are after a new chairman to assist Technical Director Howard Webb who has been under fire the last few months.

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Current PGMOL Chief Pictured

The decision has likely come to release some of the pressure from former Premier League referee Howard Webb, as PGMOL have been heavily under fire in recent months due to decisions made in the Premier League that have left fans furious and asking questions of the organisation itself.

PGMOL have endured a chaotic last few months with their decisions both on and off the field, leading to serious backlash from fans, players and even many of the managers in the Premier League on multiple occasions. The group announced just last month that they plan to appoint new VAR officials with a known shortage in them and even the application process states you require “little to no experience to apply”.

PGMOL under fire again after decision given against Arsenal today.

It seems PGMOL is a complete mess at this moment in the season and current officials have recently stated in interviews that they are “afraid of backlash”, from decisions and that they are “overworked”, which they believe is contributing to these decisions. There is a severe lack of referees to fill gaps in PGMOL and to support VAR, as the amount of refs needed for a game increased from having the referee, two assistants and a fourth official, to now requiring a team of three extra people working on VAR.  This sprouts part of the problem because many staff are also undertrained on VAR or have little experience with it.

Amidst the countless controversies with VAR, most fans accept that it will stay in leagues all across Europe no matter how bad it might get. It seems VAR has had a serious effect in Europe, with statistics from SpeadEX sports stating that penalties worldwide have increased by 13.3%, which is an especially interesting stat because penalties in the premier league in fact went down by 7.9%. This largely suggests that the inconsistency lies in the English officiating, rather than VAR itself.

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Images from Wolves vs Nottingham Forrest today.

Of course in football there will always be a group of people to argue against every single decision, so backlash is expected to some point, but not to the scale seen in the Premier League, where every fan agrees it isn’t used right or should be completely abolished.

Moreover to discuss the credibility and accuracy of VAR, we travel to the Bundesliga. It was introduced in Germany in 2017 in just the 55th fixture of the season, in a Bayern Munich 3-1 against Bayer Leverkusen. VAR intervened a total of 12 times at the Allianz Arena. The game greatly demonstrated the benefit of VAR, when referees communicate well with each other and official Tobias Stieler made 11 out of the 12 decisions confidently and with a clear satisfaction to his decisions, including a foul on Lewandoski in the penalty awarded for an incident which was in fact a foul, so VAR was put to good use.

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VAR has received a much more positive reception in the Bundesliga.

The game was a great opening for VAR in the Bundesliga and the German Football League director Ansgar Schwenken stated he was “delighted with the collaboration on the pitch in this premiere”. The German Football Association (DFB) head of refereeing also said he was “delighted with how things went in the opening match”.

When travelling to Spain, it seems the LaLiga Santander VAR display paints the same picture, one of promise and hope for the future of football with its introduction to video assistant refereeing. It was first introduced in 2018 and stats from the La Liga website show that VAR made 1,420 silent checks across the beginning 120 matches of it in place. Not only did this mean better decisions were being made, but by having silent checks that don’t interrupt play, fans still receive a smooth viewing that is more accurate in officiating.

All this is positive for European football everywhere, but why hasn’t VAR had the same positive impact on football in England? One of the controversies this season was in a game between Liverpool vs Spurs when Luis Diaz had his goal against Tottenham for offside. Even after VAR checks the offside, the wrong decision is still given. Fans were furious at the decision and VAR yet again made an incorrect decision.

Audio from the VAR officials was released online showing the mistake.

The fury and controversy only got worse however, when audio from the VAR officials was shared online. The video shows the officials communicating through the process to what looked well, but it seems there was a mix up between the leading referee, who misheard their decision and disallowed the goal.

Again in a recent game between Arsenal vs Newcastle, VAR reviewed what looked like to many as a clear foul on defender Gabriel, with Newcastle player Joelinton having both his hands on the Arsenal defender. The foul wasn’t given and the goal was, concluding in Arsenal’s first loss in the Premier League this season. Audio from the Sky Sports Premier League posted on Twitter shows the whole goal being checked and talked through by officials, who still provide the wrong decision in the game.

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Video on Twitter shows Joelinton push on Gabriel.

VAR has a clear objective to reduce the amount of errors in the game, to enhance the viewing experience and to provide a fair game of football with not too many interruptions. Video technology has been used in sports for years and overall has been a success but it seems VAR in football has certainly had its moments of creating the opposite effect of it’s very purpose. In retrospect there is nothing wrong with implementing VAR, but it seems most of the complaints surrounding it come from the change of laws in the game and VAR has just made the problems with these new laws more obvious, 

PGMOL have implemented their new laws with the use of VAR because it’s believed technology can always spot an infringement on a law. A change must be made so changes to laws in the game can be applied accurately without the use of technology with it. It seems there is a lack of transparency between officials, fans and players as when a VAR decision is being made, no one in the stadium has any idea what is going on and players on field often are hounding the ref when making their decision, putting them under even more pressure which then often results in rushed or misjudged decisions. 

Part of the solution to this is making it clear to fans what is going on, by providing the VAR’s view to the crowd, so they are provided with the same images and understanding whilst the game is being played. Ultimately the problem of VAR is heavily linked to the troubles going on in PGMOL

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Fans are often left in the dark when they can’t see what’s going on with the VAR.

PGMOL has a serious communication problem and former Chief Mike Riley stated that from the start of VAR that there needs to be better consistency in decisions and timing of decisions must improve. 5 Years on from VARs beginning and it seems PGMOL aren’t doing enough to improve its system, even with newly appointed Howard Webb, who also admits there are clear problems with slow decision making and the technology appearing eradicate, PGMOL must determine a better structure so officiating in the Premier League can get back to where it was, even with VAR still in place.

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