Wolves’ bid to scrap VAR has been rejected at this week’s crucial Premier League summit

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ proposal to abolish VAR will be voted down this week as clubs anticipate ‘evolution rather than revolution’ on several issues at the Premier League’s General Meeting. If, as expected, the vote is in favor of retaining the technology, various improvements and adjustments to the existing system will be pursued.

On other matters, Telegraph Sport understands clubs will discuss trialling new squad cost controls and enshrining the spending cap in the new season. The plan would be to use the new concept in the “shadow” of existing spending controls, to give clubs more time to reach a decision. These are the key discussion points ahead of the league strategy day on Wednesday and the full AGM on Thursday in Harrogate.


After initially submitting their motion to dump the technology in England, Wolves warned that the top tier risked being “irrevocably damaged” if clubs did not back their proposal. The club’s chairman Jeff Shi wrote in a column for Telegraph Sport that VAR has “introduced a level of interference that is contrary to the spirit of our game”.

However, it looks like Wolves will almost certainly fail to get the support of a further 13 teams to back them in the vote by Thursday. The general feeling among other clubs – including Liverpool, Manchester United and West Ham – is that the system should remain, with improvements.

Jeff ShiJeff Shi

Wolves chairman Jeff Shi has spoken out

A guaranteed boost to the speed and accuracy of decision-making will be the introduction of a semi-automatic offside system in the autumn.

Clubs will be given a full briefing on a deal struck with US software company Second Spectrum, which uses artificial intelligence and a chip in the ball to identify when attackers are ahead of defenders.

Offside decisions should be shortened by an average of 31 seconds, which the Premier League hopes will significantly reduce frustration in the stands and dugouts. The Second Spectrum system automatically detects when attackers are offside when the ball is kicked and the VAR will then assess whether the attacker is interfering with play or not.

Premier League clubs agreed in April to the introduction of semi-automatic offside. Other reforms by Howard Webb, England’s head of referees, include making VAR announcements on the pitch next season, which will be broadcast over public address systems in the stadium.

Clubs believe the improvements will mollify skeptical fanbases, although the latest research from Ipsos UK shows the public is increasingly divided over VAR. Figures showed that 44 percent wanted to leave technology behind, while 40 percent were in favor of protecting the status quo. Ipsos research director Keiran Pedley concluded that “fans appear willing to give VAR time if changes are made that improve the process”.

Financial controls

Control over selection costs and a possible spending cap are on the agenda, but Telegraph Sport understands clubs will initially be given the opportunity to trial new systems before setting them in stone. In effect, the system will operate in the “shadows” behind the existing profit and sustainability system, which will be phased out as the league aligns itself with a new UEFA model.

A key factor in clubs’ decision to trial the system will be to allay concerns from the Professional Footballers Association about a potential first-ever spending cap for the top tier. However, clubs have already voted to explore a cap of around five times the amount the lowest-earning Premier League club will receive at the start of the 2025/26 season. The concept was first mooted last year, but after some opposition, a potential multiple of 4.5 spending limit for the income from the lowest club fees appears to be closer to five.

The league’s financial controls are moving towards a selection cost control model, similar to that being introduced by UEFA for its competitions, where expenses are limited to a percentage of turnover.

A cap provides further “anchoring,” with the cap being a multiple of the lowest player’s center payouts from the league’s shared broadcast and commercial deals.

However, the PFA has now objected to the prospect of strict limits on wage spending. “We await the details of the proposals, but we are against any measure that would impose a ‘hard’ cap on players’ wages,” the representative body said. “There is an established process to ensure that these types of proposals, which have a direct impact on our members, are properly consulted.”

Alternative visions to increase competitiveness in Europe

Surprise Champions League qualifiers Aston Villa have proposed increasing allowable losses under PSR from £105 million to £135 million for this final three-year period of monitoring under current rules.

Crystal Palace’s proposal focuses more directly on UEFA’s ‘coefficients’ system, which is weighted in favor of the clubs that qualify for Europe each year. Palace’s plan is to adjust the domestic league’s PSR, allowing clubs to claim the difference in financing coefficients between themselves and the top club in Europe as allowable losses.

It is hoped that both plans will help new European competition qualifiers spend more money to close the gap with more established rivals. One of the biggest frustrations for clubs outside the so-called Big Six is ​​that teams are paid by UEFA for their participation in the Champions League and that system is tilted in favor of the clubs that qualify every year. Until UEFA gets rid of that bias – historical performance, known as the UEFA coefficient – ​​the biggest and richest clubs will always have an advantage.

From next season, the weighting of UEFA Champions League payments via the coefficient will be woven into a more complex formula. It will be partly combined with the revenue that UEFA earns from the broadcast territory of each club in question. Nevertheless, historical performance of clubs – in five years and ten years according to the relevant part of the calculation – will still play a role.

The “new deal”

One notable absence from the voting schedule is the long-awaited package of financial support for the Football League, which will only be addressed once the league is confident of its new financial systems. The election and the postponement of the introduction of an independent regulator have also significantly reduced the pressure on the English leadership to sign a new, improved support package.

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