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Wolves Initiate Premier League Vote on Scrapping VAR

Following a motion introduced by Wolves, the twenty Premier League clubs will vote on potentially scrapping VAR entirely. If fourteen clubs approve the motion, the technology will be removed from the start of the 2024/2025 season.

Since the introduction of the technology in the Premier League, there has been no shortage of controversy. Wolves, who announced the motion on Wednesday, have been plagued by wrong decisions right from the off. Gary O'Neil's side were denied a seemingly stonewall penalty on the opening weekend of the season in what ended up being a 1 - 0 defeat to Manchester United.

It was made worse in the following weeks for Wolves as Hwang Hee-Chan was penalised for almost an identical foul against Newcastle United, before the same happened to Fabio Silva against Sheffield United; Wolves drew with the Toons and were beaten by a stoppage time goal from the Blades.

Decisions seemed to keep going against Wolves throughout the season with Max Kilman denied a goal in the 99th minute against West Ham just last month. One of Manchester City's penalties at the beginning of May was also declared by Howard Webb on his ref watch programme not to have been fair.

It's not just Wolves though. Sheffield United may well have been relegated with double their points tally, but they were hard done by with soft penalties given against them on trips to Arsenal and Luton.

Liverpool had a clear cut goal ruled out for offside against Tottenham, and were denied a penalty for a handball by Martin Odegaard at home to Arsenal.

Although arguably the club most heavily affected have been Nottingham Forest.

Wolves have had plenty of debatable VAR moments, but there have been many decisions against Nottingham Forest which have just been plain wrong.

In tight matches in the relegation battle, Forest were denied points against both Merseyside clubs through poor VAR decisions, as well as seeing Willy Boly unfairly dismissed and suspended for what was actually a remarkable tackle against Bournemouth.

Whilst their move to appoint Mark Clattenburg as a referee adviser was ultimately misguided, it's understandable why Forest wanted explanations. They had three separate penalty shouts waved away against Everton, two of which they were unlucky not to get.

Against Liverpool, Forest had been forced to stop an attack in stoppage time at 0 - 0 because of an injury which was not a head injury. After the player had been taken off, Liverpool were given the ball in their penalty area, despite Forest having been in possession outside the box.

Jurgen Klopp's side then flew down the other end of the pitch, won a corner, and Darwin Nunez scored a 99th-minute winner. To say Forest were unhappy is an understatement...

It's safe to say that Wolves will have some support in their vote then. Whether or not they'll get the 14 votes they need to remove VAR remains to be seen, but the question has to be asked as to what the Premier League would be like without it.

Officials have become so accustomed to not making a decision purely because of the fallback of having another referee watching at Stockley Park. It would be interesting to see if the threshold for penalties for example were to change.

VAR certainly has its issues; the technology has not only failed to deliver correct decisions on several occasions, but it has even reversed correct ones. On top of that, it takes up a lot of time and decisions are incredibly inconsistent in the Premier League.

There is an argument for the technology however, as it has corrected plenty of wrong decisions, especially in the Champions League where it runs far more effectively.

In fact most European leagues seem to have more luck with VAR (with the exception of Sweden who have scrapped it). The problem really is with the officials in the English game. There is huge inconsistency from week to week and Howard Webb himself admits several errors each and every time he does the ref watch review.

But whether it's the technology or the officials at fault, VAR does not work in the Premier League. Could it be fixed? Probably. But the promise when VAR was first introduced to the league in the 2019/2020 season was that the faults would be ironed out. This promise was empty.

So while it may well be possible to fix the errors and improve the quality of officiating, it would be entirely understandable if the Premier League clubs did collectively agree that enough is enough.

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