PREM fans face ANOTHER season of “armpit offsides”.
But refs’ chief Mike Riley and his team have been forced to come into line with Fifa over operating VAR.
The 20 Prem clubs, who earlier voted not to extend the post-shutdown rules allowing five substitutes and a nine-player bench, agreed at their summer meeting on a number of changes to VAR operations.
The decision was effectively forced on the Prem after Fifa took control of VAR from the hands of the Law-making International FA Board.
Fifa refs’ chief and former Italian whistler Pierluigi Collina, has mandated a uniform approach across the world.
And that will see THREE significant changes in the Prem next season – but NO change to the hairline offside calls that so infuriated fans and players alike.
Prem clubs had been due to consider plans to operate “thicker” VAR lines, allowing a 10cm “tolerance zone” for attackers.
But Collina firmly believes that “offside is offside” with no leeway.
The Italian explained earlier this year: “If evidence shows a player is 3cm offside, it is offside.”
This season saw a number of hairline calls that frustrated fans, players, managers and clubs – although West Ham did not follow through on their suggestion of calling for a vote to scrap VAR altogether.
But the incidents that ruled out goals by Norwich’s Teemu Pukki against Spurs and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino at Aston Villa are now almost certain to be repeated throughout next term.
There will be a number of changes that will come in.
The first and most obvious of these will see referees having to use the touchline monitors before they change “subjective” VAR decisions on red card, penalties and goals.
In theory, it could mean more “wrong” calls being changed, with VAR officials in the booths at Stockley Park now able to suggest the on-pitch ref takes another look at an incident for himself.
Riley had previous urged the VARs to make the call for themselves, arguing that it saved a great deal of time.
But many argued that relatively junior VARs were reluctant to tell more senior colleagues that they had made a mistake and over-rule them.
The Prem had also joined Uefa in ignoring protocols demanding VAR was used to adjudicate on encroachment by goalkeepers and outfield players at penalty kicks.
From next season, any save by a keeper who does not have at least one foot on the line at the moment the ball is struck will be ruled invalid and the penalty retaken.
It will only not be penalised if the spot-kick is missed – either against the woodwork or off-target – unless the keeper is adjudged to have moved so far forward that he impacted the penalty.
VAR will also rule on encroachment by outfield players, with retakes if they are on the line or inside the box or arc if they go on to have a “material” impact on the outcome – by getting to any rebound.
And Riley’s guidelines to assistant referees, which went against the way Uefa asked its officials to act, have also been scrapped.
From next season, the flag should not be raised on “tight” calls until after the immediate passage of play has come to an end.
Last season, Prem assistants raised their flags but referees were encouraged not to whistle until the shot was taken but that caused confusion with defenders stopping when they saw the flag.
Club have also voted to revert to a maximum of three substitutes and seven players on the bench for next season.
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