Your Views on VAR

Spirit of Shankly will attend an online VAR briefing event on Tuesday 16 February 2021 hosted by The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA).

Former referee Mike Riley, now general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) group, will give the presentation relating specifically to VAR issues and the procedures and processes of decision making, interpretation and effectiveness.

Ahead of the meeting Spirit of Shankly asked members and non-members for their opinions and thoughts on VAR. Below is a summary of what you said:

Is there anything good about VAR?

  • The concept.
  • It has the potential to be a very good tool for getting decisions correct.
  • It has highlighted how poor and inconsistent some match referees are.

What has VAR changed?

  • It has taken away supporter enjoyment and spontaneity.
  • Many fans no longer celebrate goals until they are sure VAR is not going to intervene.
  • It has destroyed the spirit of the game, merely adding another source of controversial decision making.
  • It has disrupted the flow of a game and wastes playing time that is not always added on at the end of either half.

Worst Aspects of VAR

  • The same poor referees have been relocated to make decisions in a video room.
  • It’s not applied consistently.
  • It’s being used to make decisions which are subjective.
  • PGMOL seems to have closed ranks and adjusts the narrative to suit some of the woeful decisions made both on-field and in the VAR studio.

Common views

  • The idea of VAR was welcomed, but the application is appalling.
  • VAR was supposed to correct clear and obvious errors. Instead, it has added another layer of individual interpretation.
  • The VAR official should decide by taking a quick look – up to 40 seconds max. If micro-analysis is required, the referee or assistant referee’s initial on-field decision should stand.
  • It’s ruining football.
  • It has caused more problems than it has resolved.
  • VAR decision making is inconsistent. Similar incidents are judged differently week to week.
  • VAR intervention should be minimal and not used to officiate the game. Perhaps use it only when a referee seeks clarification.
  • It seems some rules have been amended to make VAR work.
  • VAR has not improved the experience of watching football.
  • The VAR official has become the senior match official.
  • VAR is there to assist, not to re-referee the game.

Specific Aspects


  • Deciding offside by lines on a screen has become subjective and inconsistent.
  • Assistant referees should make clearly obvious offside calls in real time, not wait for the phase of play to complete on the basis that VAR will adjudicate on the original decision.


  • Discussion between the referee and VAR official should be audible as it is for example in rugby union and cricket.
  • The final decision should be explained to match-attending supporters. Not every ground has a video wall.
  • After every match the referee and VAR official should be subject to media interview and scrutiny.

-Pitchside monitor

  • The incident being reviewed is often only presented to the referee in slow motion (which can make a situation look worse) or from a certain angle.
  • Allow the referee to ask for the angle or replay he wants to see again.
  • Why does VAR instruct the referee to look at something again anyway? Why doesn’t the VAR official just make the decision?

In Summary

Could VAR improve the game? Definitely.

Has VAR improved the game? Absolutely not!

Has VAR has had a positive effect on the Premier League and is it providing a clear benefit to the game?

The overriding view of those who replied to the Spirit of Shankly survey is NO!