The Premier League are planning to bring in an enhanced VAR system which makes use of “limb-tracking technology” to dramatically increase the accuracy and speed with which referees make offside decisions.
Sportsmail has learned that Hawk-Eye, who developed goal-line technology as well as the review systems in cricket and tennis, are working on a sophisticated system using multiple cameras to give video assistants access to an “automated offside line” in real time.
The technology will track the back foot of every outfield player in each VAR game, providing a constant offside line for video referees to assess instantly, whenever a decision is deemed too close to be ruled on solely by the on-field officials.
The current system requires video referees to construct a new offside line across the pitch for every incident, which has led to lengthy delays that have infuriated fans. On the opening day of the season, VAR took several minutes to rule that Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling was marginally offside in the build-up to a Gabriel Jesus goal at West Ham.
And Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s equaliser in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United last month also took a long time to be confirmed by VAR. The Gabon striker had been incorrectly judged offside by assistant referee Scott Ledger. A total of 26 decisions have been overturned by VAR in 100 Premier League games this season, although the new technology will only apply to offside calls.
Referees’ chief Mike Riley is being kept informed about advances in the new technology with a view to introducing it to the Premier League, although it is unclear whether it will be brought in mid-season. The 17 Select Group One referees are due to meet the Premier League on Thursday, as revealed by Sportsmail, for a progress report on how VAR has been used this season.
The summit comes amid calls for referees to make greater use of the technology available, particularly pitch-side monitors.
The limb-tracking technology could have further practical benefits for clubs, because it will generate more data about player movements during matches than is produced by the GPS systems they wear.
In addition to the data already available, the new system will offer a full skeletal model of every player’s movements, giving a much greater insight to facilitate studies into gait analysis and biomechanics.