Premier League to announce VAR rule change that will impact Newcastle United, Leeds and Everton

The Premier League is set to make changes to VAR and its application of the offside rule in live matches.

According to The Times, the league is looking to adopt a new semi-automated offside system going into the 2023-24 season.

Currently, offside calls are made by the referee’s assistants on the touchline and VAR should interfere if a ‘clear and obvious error’ is made. But with that, human error has led to some controversial offside calls made in Premier League matches.

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The most recent round of fixtures saw Aston Villa’s Philippe Coutinho incorrectly flagged for offside before finding the back of the net from the edge of the box against Manchester City. As play had already stopped, VAR couldn’t intervene and the goal didn’t stand.

Referee Jarred Gillett checks the VAR screen of the red card given to Kieran Trippier of Newcastle United which is overturned to a yellow card during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St. James Park on August 21, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Newcastle also had a goal ruled out at Liverpool as Alexander Isak was flagged offside by the narrowest of margins.

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Nine Premier League clubs – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United, Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton and Nottingham Forest – reportedly 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.

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The rule change 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.

Offside calls made via VAR see officials manually use lines to determine whether a player is offside or not in the build-up to a goal. This has led to very contentious and even incorrect calls being made.

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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 opposed to a static screenshot.

The system has already been used in Champions League matches. The system will not be fully-automated due to the interpretive nature of the rules surrounding a player 'interfering with play’ which will require a VAR official to judge.

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A player can be in an offside position but avoid penalisation if the officials deem that they did not impact play.

The result should be much quicker and more accurate VAR decisions surrounding offside calls.