Premier League set to trial new ‘Robo-Ref’ system at Man United, Chelsea, City & Liverpool


It’s probably safe to say that VAR has played its role of pantomime villain to perfection.

Sadly, it was never meant to be cast as such, with early hopes being that the controversial new system would be refereeing’s knight in shining armour.

Every single club in the Premier League can point to a long list of questionable VAR decisions that have gone against them over the course of the last season.

The handball rule has been in a constant state of change, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of consistency with interpretation across the board, and don’t even get us started on those cursed offside lines.

There is no doubt that there is plenty of room for improvement with the system and we can only hope that over the coming months, some of the larger issues begin to get ironed out.

Now, it seems that is exactly what the Premier League intend to do, with The Sun reporting today that the trial of ‘robo-refs’ is set to go ahead at four separate grounds this season.

The Champions League contingent of Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea will all play under the watchful eye of the new system that is supposed to exponentially improve decision times.

It will mark a very significant step in FIFA’s push for a global rollout of the system that uses skeletal technology to give near-instant offside calls.

According to the aforementioned report in The Sun, Hawkeye, the brains behind goal-line technology and other aspects of the VAR system, conducted a ‘robo-ref’ trial in secret at one Premier League club this season.


The system, which tracks 29 points of the player’s body, will be able to alert an assistant referee within half a second of the ball being played that a player is in an offside position.

Perhaps most significantly and, should all go according to plan, it will mean the end of those awful lines currently used to determine whether a player was behind or in front of the last man.

The system was used in three matches in a ‘non-live trial’ capacity at the Club World Cup in January with results believed to have been extremely promising.

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It is worth noting that the system won’t be used to make decisions just yet, but we are all for anything that might make the offside call more cut and dry. 

We may have to wait for it, but at least the technology is heading in the right direction.

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