Video Assistant Referee, more commonly known as “VAR” has to be up there as one of the most controversial influences in world football. VAR is one of the latest technological advances to grace the game of football, but still as fans we are unsure whether it has been for better or worse.
VAR is currently only operating in some of the major sporting leagues and competitions. Already, in its short tenure, it has had a massive impact on both Champions League and Premier League football. The reason as to why VAR hasn’t made it into more leagues and competitions is simply because it’s too expensive for a lot of clubs to have installed. Those clubs that do not have VAR are able to enjoy a game of football without any interruptions, which is what we all want. However, that does mean if there was a serious refereeing mistake on the pitch, there would be no back up to have a decision overruled, like we see in the Premier League etc.
What we want to decide is probably the most fan-divided questions in football, should VAR be brought into lower leagues?
The Cost of VAR
The initial factor is of course the installation cost of VAR. VAR is certainly not cheap, as we looked into a study from an FA Cup game, where VAR was used and for that game alone, the total cost was £9251 + VAT. Now for some of the big clubs, this may be no issue, but for ranked teams, like Port Vale, almost £10,000 per game is a ridiculous amount for the club to be paying and there will be a lot more teams in the same situation.
With a lot of teams taking massive financial hits in recent years, now is certainly not a great time to discuss the possibility of VAR in the lower leagues, even if fans did want it.
At the end of the day, referees are only human and can’t get every possible decision right, and if they did they wouldn’t be reffing in the lower leagues. VAR is there to help the referees when they do make shocking calls. VAR cannot get involved in every decision, for example if the ref gives a goal kick instead of a corner. However, it will influence decisions such as: possible red cards, overturning red cards, offside goals, potential foul play leading up to a goal, disallowed goals, possible penalties and overturning penalty decisions.
These are all very key match deciding moments in games and therefore having VAR there to make sure a wrong call does not decide the game makes the game more fair. Imagine losing a title deciding game over a poor refereeing mistake. This is certainly a big advantage to VAR.
Takes Away Excitement
On the other hand to good decision making, it is fair to say VAR can sometimes suck the fun out of football by bringing play back and overturning a decision. We have witnessed it time and time again with VAR already over the years. There have been many occasions where goals have been overturned during games. These decisions can sometimes take around 5 minutes, wasting more time for fans who are waiting in anticipation.
But it means fans can’t fully celebrate goals anymore as in the back of their heads, when a goal goes in, they are worrying whether there may have been something leading up to the goal to rule it out. Football is an entertainment sport and therefore if you take away part of the excitement, it’s not the same game.
More Advantages & Disadvantages
- Improves the game with better decisions.
- VAR still sometimes gets it wrong.
- It isn’t completely accurate.
- Refs end up relying on it.
To conclude our thoughts on VAR and if it should be included in lower leagues, our simple answer is no. We don’t want VAR in the lower leagues for reasons such as it is way too expensive for clubs to afford and also it takes a lot of excitement out of the game of football. As fans of clubs in lower leagues, we want the game to be played like it always has been.