Tens of thousands of supporters echo Leeds United concerns over VAR

The results of a huge supporter survey have echoed the frustrations felt by Leeds United after their first season of VAR.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 10:03 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 10:06 am
VAR CHECK - Leeds United were hit by a number of controversial and marginal decisions this season in the Premier League, with CEO Angus Kinnear an outspoken critic of the video technology. Pic: Getty

Whites CEO Angus Kinnear and striker Patrick Bamford have both been outspoken critics of decisions made with the help of video technology, following a number of controversies involving Leeds this season.

Luke Ayling had a goal chalked off at Fulham because Tyler Roberts was marginally offside and Roberts himself was denied a Premier League goal when Helder Costa's kneecap was beyond the last defender at West Ham United. The toughest call to take was at Crystal Palace when Bamford had a goal ruled out because the arm he pointed with to show where he wanted the ball was offside.

The Football Supporters Association recently asked fans to give their views for a consultation that will be sent on to the Premier League.

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More than 33,000 responded to the survey and only 26 per cent said they supported the use of VAR

The poll showed that 95 per cent of those who had experienced VAR in-stadium and 94 per cent who had watched matches on TV felt VAR had made watching football less enjoyable.

Ninety-five per cent were concerned about the removal of the spontaneous joy of goal celebrations, while 86 per cent of TV viewers and 91 per cent of match-goers stated that VAR decisions are generally not resolved in a reasonable amount of time.

More than a third of respondents who had been Premier League season ticket holders before the COVID-19 pandemic said they were likely to attend fewer games in future as a result of the impact that VAR was having on the game and 44 per cent of all regular matchgoers said they would be attending less due to VAR.

The Premier League are undergoing a similar consultation of players and managers to make improvements to the way technology is used in the game from next season.

FSA vice-chair Tom Greatrex said: “There is a clear feeling among fans that VAR has ruined the spontaneity of goal celebrations, and taken away a big part of our most enjoyable matchday moments.

“With four in ten fans saying that VAR is likely to lead them to attend fewer matches in the future we hope that the Premier League and referees’ body PGMOL will hear the fans’ voice and take urgent steps to improve a system that isn’t delivering clear and understandable decisions in stadiums.”

A third of respondents identified as season ticket holders with 21 per cent regular away match attendees. A further 23 per cent were regular home matchgoers and 15 per cent were non-matchgoers.

Premier League supporters accounted for 86 per cent of those polled.

Key results

Ninety-seven per cent of respondents were in favour of goalline technology, which provides near-instant results.

Around half of those who responded had experienced VAR in-stadium (55%)

Just over three quarters of fans (77%) were of the opinion that referees needed to take the time to more clearly explain VAR decisions to those in the stadium

A similar proportion (78%) agreed that other sports are better suited to the use of video referees/umpires than football is.

Two thirds of fans (63%) are not in favour of using VAR in competitions where it won’t be used in every game, such as in the FA Cup or EFL Cup in lower league grounds.

Only 13% of fans believe that VAR has improved the overall accuracy of refereeing decisions

Just 4% of fans think VAR has had a positive impact on the team they support, 78% think it’s been more negative.