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Premier League referees to explain VAR calls to fans inside stadium

Premier League referees could explain VAR calls to fans inside the stadium from the start of next season, according to chief refereeing officer Howard Webb.

Webb announced plans to improve the in-stadium experience on his regular television show, “Match Officials Mic’d Up”.

Controversial incidents discussed

In the latest episode of Webb’s show, he discussed five incidents from matchdays 30 to 35 in the Premier League. This included a discussion about overturned goals and penalty appeals, such as the three penalty decisions that Nottingham Forest were not given in their away match against Everton.

One of the main takeaways from this latest edition of the programme was Webb’s admission that stadium crowds need to be more informed about the process of decision-making by referees for VAR calls. Webb was referring specifically to when the referees visit the VAR monitor, not VAR checks that don’t result in the on-field decision being overturned.

Change to explain VAR calls to fans inside stadium

Michael Owen, who asks the question to Webb on this show said: “You touched on quite an interesting point there because if you're sat at home, you're following the narrative a little bit but if you're in the stadium, sometimes you're thinking, ‘What's going on here?' How can we improve that stadium experience for people?”

Webb responded: “It does need improving, doesn't it. When you hear the clips on shows like this it makes sense what's happening. It all becomes apparent and actually you'll hear the referee, Andy Madley, having been to the screen saying, ‘I’m going to speak to Lewis Dunk to explain why the penalty that he feels he should have isn't going to happen because he's fouled Wissa before that.' We're looking at ways to improve the in-stadium experience.

explain VAR calls to fans
Howard Webb works as the chief refereeing officer of the PGMOL – Photo by Icon Sport

“One of the things you'll have seen maybe in FIFA tournaments, like the Women's World Cup, is announcements from the referee once they've been to the screen. So we're looking at that, we're keeping an open mind about whether that's something we could utilise in the Premier League. For situations like this it would be really useful for the referee to be able to speak to all of the people in the stadium – [to explain] the rationale for why you didn't give a penalty because of the foul that happened before the penalty appeal when Dunk fouled Wissa.”

The policy to explain VAR calls to fans in the stadium when the referees visit the VAR monitor is hoped to be introduced next season. You can read the full transcript of the discussion between Owen and Webb on Match Officials Mic’d Up here.


Will Murray

Freelance football journalist. Experience writing for When Saturday, Comes, Goalkeeper.com, Elite Scholars and Total Football Analysis. Recently finished an MA in Sport Journalism at the University of Brighton. Long-time season ticket holder at the two-time European Champions Nottingham Forest.

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