Canaries set to be involved as VAR is introduced to the Premier League
PUBLISHED: 13:41 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:41 14 May 2019
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Promotion to the Premier League means Norwich City are about to be thrown into the thick of one of the biggest changes to ever be introduced to English football: video assistant referees (VAR).
Top-flight clubs unanimously voted for VAR to be brought in from the start of the 2019-20 season and the system has been intensely tested ever since.
The system was successfully used at last summer's World Cup and has been in use during some FA Cup and League Cup fixtures during the past two campaigns.
The Canaries have experienced VAR twice, the first during a chaotic match at Chelsea in the FA Cup third round in January 2018, when there were several contentious decisions but there was little communication of VAR other than when the referee pressed his finger to his earphone.
The other was in October of last year, during the 2-1 loss at Bournemouth in the fourth round of the League Cup, when there was little need for VAR to be used.
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The Premier League shareholders' meeting agreed in principle to bring the system in for 2019-20 and ever since the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL) have been preparing, including trials of dealing with multiple games at their Stockley Park base in west London.
PGMOL have ensured that officials are trained to the standards of the International Football Association Board (IFab) and have been in charge of at least one match when VAR is in use, or have operated as the VAR official themselves.
The system is designed to help referees, not by checking every incident, but by checking for "clear and obvious" errors without disrupting the flow of the game.
VAR was in high-profile action recently when Manchester City were cruelly - but correctly - denied a late winner against Spurs in the Champions League quarter-finals, due to an offside decision via VAR quickly cutting short celebrations.
PGMOL is reportedly keen for its officials to use the pitchside VAR screen as little as possible, against IFab protocol, as it is believed to put too much pressure on referees in the moment.
The finer details - such as communicating decisions with spectators clearly - are set to be confirmed ahead of next season but the Canaries will soon be getting to know the pros and cons of VAR for themselves.