5 key changes made on how VAR would be used in the upcoming Premier League season

There has been debate whether the use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to make key decisions in the English Premier league should continue for the upcoming 2020/2021 should continue.

Shareholders at the Premier League’s Annual General Meeting agreed VAR would remain for the upcoming ’20/21 term, in line with FIFA protocol. However, there has been some key adjustment to how the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) would be used for the season.

See the changes made to VAR’s implementation for the 2020/2021 season below;


Premier League referees will be encouraged to use the VAR screens, referred to as the Referee Review Area (RRA), at the side of the pitch more regularly next season. The monitors will be employed for subjective decisions surrounding goals, red cards and penalties.


Officials will be stricter in how they approach penalties and if a spot-kick is missed when a goalkeeper’s foot is off the line, VAR will order the penalty to be retaken. However, if a goalkeeper is off his line and the penalty hits the post or misses the target, it will not be ordered to be retaken.


A player can now only be deemed as encroaching from a spot-kick if they have a direct impact on the ball (i.e. they clear it or tap in a rebound). Encroachment is also only judged on a player’s foot and whether it’s in, or on, the penalty area or arc line at the edge of the box.


An official Premier League press released stated: “The [offside] protocol does not allow for tolerance levels.”

That means there will be no real change to how offsides are judged and any ball-playing part of the body which is past the line of the last defender will be deemed offside, including a shoulder or a small portion of the foot.
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When an immediate goalscoring opportunity occurs, assistant referees will not raise their flag until the passage of play is over. When the attack has been completed, the official will then raise the flag if they deem the attacker to be offside. If a goal is scored, then that decision will be checked at VAR’s Stockley Park base.


The Premier League will revert back to the use of a maximum of three substitutes per game, with a maximum of seven being named on the bench. Drinks breaks will also not be included next season, apart from in exceptionally warm weather.

The handball rule has also been altered for 2020/21 with the FA confirming that accidental handball by an attacking team will only result in a foul if it occurs immediately before a goal or clear goal-scoring chance.

The area of the arm considered to be penalised by the handball rule has been more clearly defined. The shoulder area is deemed not to be handball, but any part of the arm below the shoulder can result in a handball decision.