Premier League change to key VAR decisions

A VAR decision ruled out an effort from Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins against West Ham for offside.
A VAR decision ruled out an effort from Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins against West Ham for offside.

Premier League match officials and video assistant referee have been directed not to penalise "trivial things" when the new season kicks off - with the awarding of soft penalties and the scrapping of so-called 'toenail' offsides highlighted.

Referees' chief Mike Riley says the bar for awarding spot-kicks and fouls for lower-body contact will be raised, after feedback from players, coaches and chief executives gathered in a March survey.

On-field officials and VARs will be told to establish clear contact, whether it has a consequence and whether an attacking player has tried to use that contact to win a penalty.

"It's not sufficient just to say 'yes, there was contact'," Riley, the general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said.

"Contact on its own is only part of what referees should look for. If you've got clear contact that has a consequence, then that's what you have got to penalise.

"I think it moves the dial back towards where we were in a pre-VAR world. We don't want trivial things penalised."

While the change of emphasis should mean that attackers who initiate or exaggerate contact will not be rewarded, referees will be on the lookout to award penalties where there is clear, meaningful contact but players stay on their feet.

"That should always be the case, otherwise the balance is unequal," Riley said.

The likely result of this change will be a drop in the number of penalties awarded.

There were 125 given last season, 92 in 2019-20, 103 in 2018-19 and 80 in 2017-18.

The assessment of marginal offsides will also change next season, Riley said.

One-pixel lines will still be used in the review process, but this will no longer be broadcast.

Instead, the final, thicker broadcast lines will be used, and when these thicker lines drawn for the attacker and defender overlap, the attacker will be deemed onside.

"Effectively what we give back to the game is 20 goals that would have been disallowed last season by using quite forensic scrutiny," Riley said.

"So it's the toenails, the noses being given offside.

"They might have been given offside last season, next season they won't be."

It is understood the Premier League is expecting there could be the possibility to trial semi-automated offside technology in the 2022-23 season.

This technology provides a response in four to five seconds, compared to the average human check in the Premier League of 34 seconds.

Australian Associated Press