Is VAR Ruining The Premier League?

Is VAR Ruining The Premier League?

VAR the hot topic for PL fans

The identity of the Premier League is built on excitement, drama and exhilaration. English fans take pride in labelling the division ‘the greatest in the world’, simply due to the thrilling nature that the league holds compared to others across Europe.

However, conversations surrounding the top tier of English football in recent weeks have not been about the joyous action taking place on the field. Instead, all talk about the Premier League has been focused on the introduction of VAR, which has taken no time to make its mark on the division.

It has been the biggest change to the laws of the game across the last generation and inevitably, the implantation of the video assistant referee has not been the smoothest ride. There still remains particular confusion over when and why the technology should be used, but one thing is for certain – it is slowly draining the excitement factor out of the league.

Don’t cheer too soon

You know that feeling when the ball hits the back of the net and fans around the stadium erupt into celebration? Well, those joyous moments could slowly start to become a thing of the past. Following the introduction of VAR, fans have now become hasty about cheering too soon, just incase the goal is chalked off.

During the opening PL weekend, three goals were ruled out courtesy of checks from the video assistants. Celebrations were cut short for Manchester City, with both Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus initially running off with their teammates, whilst Mike Dean held his hand to his ear.

This has become a familiar sight for fans, with all eyes being glued to the referee, who simply awaits the decision in his earpiece. The hand movement signalling the TV screen has quickly become a prominent part of match gameplay, with many criticising its negative impact on the game.

Nuno Santo spoke explicitly on the matter last night, claiming,

“What I’m afriad of is we’ll be afraid to celebrate a goal. We cannot lose this atmosphere, this sound.”

This came after Ruben Neves’ goal last night, when the strike was double checked by VAR. The goal did eventually stand, but that moment of panic and uncertainty overshadowed the special moment inside Molineux.

For better or worse?

Fortunately for Wolves fans, the goal was not ruled off and the initial celebrations were not completely crushed. One set of fans who had no such luck were those in the home section of the Etihad on Saturday afternoon.

In the dying moments of injury time, Gabriel Jesus thought he had won the game for Manchester City. The Brazilian curled home a finish and was ambushed by his teammates, who thought that all the three points had been sealed. However, you guessed it, VAR was on hand to rule the goal out. No pun intended.

The check found that a ball had flicked off Aymeric Laporte’s arm inside the box and coinciding with the new handball rule, the goal was correctly chalked off. Such a decision was only found because of the video assistant and correctly so, the goal should not have stood.

It’s hard to argue against VAR from this perspective, as the 2-2 scoreline was therefore the just result. However, when analysing the point with our ‘old school’ lenses on, it’s clear that VAR is dramatically affecting the excitement factor of the game.

When it comes down to the slimmest of margins or the factors of play that are still debatable even with the benefit of replays, one has to wonder whether VAR is really worth it.

Time sensitive topic

As mentioned, the implementation of VAR into football is still in its early stages. The process to perfection is clearly a long road ahead, but fans are already becoming agitated about the matter.

Many have voiced their opinions online over the last couple of weeks, complaining that it is ruining the game by removing the natural excitement that comes with controversial decisions.

Fans aren’t the only ones voicing complaints either, with many pundits jumping on the bandwagon too. Sam Wallace admitted that he doesn’t think using VAR inside stadiums works, predominantly due to it killing celebrations from fans.

Evidently, the introduction of the video assistant referee has split opinion. Although it is used to assist officials in helping make the correct decision, the thrill of the game has seemingly come at the expense of such technology. The policy of using VAR clearly needs to improve and as of right now, not many fans have been won over by the modern change.