VAR in the EFL: What it could mean for Sunderland, Portsmouth and rivals as plans unveiled

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Video Assistant Referees could be introduced to the EFL in the coming years - but what do we know about the current plans, and how they could affect Sunderland?

A report in The Times has revealed that plans are in place to introduce a slimmed-down VAR system to the EFL and Women’s Super League.

So what are the plans, when could they be introduced, and what could it mean for clubs? We take a look:

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What is the current situation with VAR in the EFL?

While VAR is currently used in every Premier League fixture, it is not currently utilised in the EFL.

Indeed, the only time that EFL clubs could see VAR used in a fixture is if they are drawn to play a Premier League side away from home in a cup competition.

However, that is not a guarantee - as Sunderland found when they visited Arsenal in the Carabao Cup earlier this campaign, where VAR was not in operation.

What is being suggested?

The latest plans could see a ‘VAR-light’ product introduced to the EFL.

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This would essentially be a stripped back version of what is currently used in the Premier League, involving fewer cameras - and therefore substantially reducing the cost.

Anywhere from one to eight cameras could be used, depending upon the system chosen by the EFL.

It would be used to help avoid damaging referee mistakes over incidents such as red cards and penalties, but could not assist with the more minute matters, such as offside calls.

The International Football Association Board are set to approve the introduction of these systems at their meeting on March 3 after successful trials in a number of countries - including the Netherlands.

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That would in turn give the EFL the green light to introduce the system in the future.

When could VAR be introduced in the EFL?

According to The Times report, VAR could be introduced to the EFL as soon as the 2023/24 season.

What leagues will introduce VAR in the EFL?

It looks likely that VAR will initially be introduced in the Championship only - meaning it will only affect Sunderland if they are promoted to the second tier by the 2023/23 season.

What could the costs of VAR be to Sunderland?

Given this reduced VAR system is a fairly new product, the costings remain unclear.

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In 2019, the FA Cup handbook stated that clubs would be charged £9,251 for the use of VAR in a fixture.

Across a 46-game league season, that would total a cost of £425,546.

However, that was the original system of VAR - and this new, light version is understood to be a lot more cost-effective.

What has been said about VAR at Sunderland?

Last season, following Sunderland’s exit from the League One play-offs, former head coach Lee Johnson called for VAR to be introduced in the critical games.

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They [referees] have been absolutely horrendous this year and I can’t wait to get hold of the referees’ association in the summer and present all the bad ones we have had,” he said, after the Black Cats were denied a crucial penalty in their second leg against Lincoln City.

"You try and stay quiet about it but when livelihoods and players’ futures depend on it, to not get that one right is so frustrating.

"I think they should have VAR in the play-offs."

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