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For Better or Worse, VAR is Coming to the Premier League

It’s a big day for the Premier League as VAR has arrived and Richard Scudamore gets his golden handshake.

Manchester City v Huddersfield Town - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Starting with the 2019-20 season, there will be video review in the Premier League. This is, depending on who you ask, a very good thing or the end of football as we know it. Though given football as we know it’s been declared ending annually since at least the start of the Premier League it might not actually end up being that.

Still, it’s a major change, one that sees England’s top flight join the video assistant referee bandwagon the Bundesliga, Major League Soccer, and major FIFA competitions are already on. And the hope will be that, as relatively late adopters, the Premier League will be able to implement a worthwhile and unobtrusive flavour of VAR.

In both Germany and the United States there have been ongoing complaints about VAR implementation, with many pointing to lengthy stoppages in play and wrong decisions that persist in spite of them. Yet at the most recent World Cup, VAR proved a net benefit and the system seemed tweaked to address any valid concerns.

No matter the particulars of its English implementation from the summer of 2019, though, the game is set to change. Hopefully it will end up being for the better, and if there’s one thing that watching the supposed best league in the world week in and week out makes inarguably clear, it’s that the officials do need the help.

Of course, at the same meetings that saw the Premier League commit to a VARified future, the clubs voted to give outgoing league boss Richard Scudamore a voluntary, not at all contractually obligated, all around unnecessary £5M golden handshake of a parting bonus—with each club, including Liverpool, chipping in £250k.

Given Scudamore wasn’t owed this, it feels the equivalent of the clubs setting £250k on fire while fans struggle to afford tickets and supporters run foodbanks to help fellow fans make ends meet. It’s a fuck you from the clubs—including Liverpool—to supporters; a group of rich owners and executives patting themselves on the back.

All of which is to say that if the clubs and league can’t get something as simple as not giving an already rich man a further £5M he doesn’t need and that they aren’t in any way obligated to right, it’s hard to be especially confident in them then going and doing a far more difficult thing like implementing VAR smoothly.

And also that maybe football actually did end back when the Premier League was formed and since then we’ve all been handing over our money to line the pockets of the Richard Scudamores of the world while propping up a corpse.

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