PL to announce VAR rule change that will impact Man Utd

According to a report from The Times, the league is looking to adopt a new semi-automated offside system ahead of the 2023-24 season.

At present, offside calls are made in the first instance by the referee’s assistants on the touchline, while VAR is advised to intervene if a “clear and obvious error” is spotted.

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As part of that protocol, however, human error has led to a number of controversial offside calls in Premier League matches in recent times.

Offside calls made via VAR require officials to manually use lines to determine whether a player is offside or not in the build-up to a goal, often sparking widespread debate.

A fortnight ago, Aston Villa’s Philippe Coutinho was incorrectly flagged for offside before finding the back of the net from the edge of the box in a 1-1 draw against Manchester City. As play had already been stopped, VAR couldn’t intervene and the goal did not stand.

Nine Premier League clubs – United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Brighton and Hove Albion, Southampton, and Nottingham Forest – are understood to already have the infrastructure in place to implement a semi-automated offside system through VAR.

After this winter’s World Cup, all 20 top-flight clubs will vote on whether the change to VAR should be made for next season.

The proposal is expected to be passed as it has been presented as a marked improvement on the current system, which has been the subject of much criticism.

The semi-automated system the Premier League are looking to introduce will use artificial intelligence and ball tracking in order to render a 3D image that will provide a more clear visualisation of an “offside” situation, as opposed to a static screenshot.

The system has already been used in Champions League matches, and is not fully-automated due to the interpretive nature of the rules surrounding a player “interfering with play”. To that end, a VAR official will still be needed to judge decisions on an incident-by-incident basis.

The hope is that the potential introduction of the new technology would make for quicker and more accurate VAR decisions in the top flight.

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