VAR has made the Premier League less enjoyable to watch, more than two-thirds of football fans said in a YouGov poll.
The poll found that 67% of the 1,396 adults who regularly watch the Premier League said matches have been less enjoyable since the introduction of VAR at the start of this season, with six out of 10 saying it has malfunctioned.
Despite the negative sentiment, only 15% said that VAR should be abolished — 74% said the technology should be retained, but it should be changed.
The vast majority of fans interviewed by YouGov said that fans should see the incidents under consideration at the same time as match officials and that viewers should be allowed to hear conversations between the referee about the VAR.
“New YouGov research shows that not only does a majority of Premier League viewers think VAR is malfunctioning, they also say it’s ruining their fun too,” YouGov lead data researcher Matt Smith said.
“Despite the levels of negativity towards VAR, football fans clearly believe that such a system has a place in the game.”
VAR has overturned 75 Premier League decisions this season. Brighton and Hove Albion were the biggest benefactors of technology, with Sheffield United and Norwich City the worst off.
Earlier this season, ESPN’s anti-VAR index found that Liverpool’s 14-point advantage over Manchester City would have been halved to seven points.
Premier League CEO Richard Masters understands the frustrations of fans and admits there are changes needed to make it work better, especially when it comes to reviewing offside calls.
“I think offside is one of the most [that can be tweaked] And if you want offside that are accurate to the underlay or heel, or if you want to build in a little tolerance,” Masters said Tuesday. “It’s kind of a technical challenge. We are in constant dialogue with IFAB about this and how the Premier League is doing against everyone and what we can learn from other leagues.”
The IFAB — the International Football Association Board — establishes the laws of the game around the world and the English FA has one of eight votes. The large number of camera angles during Premier League matches allows for a closer look at the action compared to smaller competitions such as Major League Soccer in the United States.
Masters said the league had conducted surveys that pointed to fans’ concerns about “time to make decisions, frustrated perhaps with offside accuracy. Like it or not, the jury is on this subject.
Masters said the research would be presented to clubs Thursday at the quarterly meeting of owners and executives, his first such gathering since he was appointed to the league’s leadership role once occupied by Richard Scudamore.
A meeting with the clubs is scheduled for April to explore how VAR should be used next season, within the parameters set by IFAB.
“We will look at development next season to address some of the problems we’ve had,” Masters said. “That’s what we do. We have improved communication in the stadium with the slightly different flattenscreen experience that we have now and I think the decision making is now better.
“If we can get that acceleration as well, and it will happen in time. Everyone is on a learning curve.