PL without VAR: For another season, the Premier League has come to an end. The awards have been distributed, the plane tickets to Europe have been provided, and passports to anonymity in the EFL have been rubber-stamped.
And with it, the third season of VAR comes to a close, bringing with it another 38 rounds of controversy and debate over refereeing in England’s top division.
We tracked all VAR decisions in the Premier League this season and analyzed how they may have influenced game outcomes.
The final table reveals some significant changes.
Who was the winner of the championship? Is it still possible for Tottenham to qualify for the Champions League? Was Manchester United able to use VAR to their advantage? Could one of the struggling players have kept up if those vital VAR calls hadn’t been made?
PL without VAR last season
Our formula does not take into account the number of times a team receives a favorable VAR call or the number of goals that are influenced. What matters is when these VAR judgments are made, how they may have influenced the flow of the game, and, most importantly, if they had an impact on the final result.
How we work out the VAR Effect Table
We take only the first VAR to overturn in each game because the calculation considers that any subsequent VAR incident wouldn’t have happened and the whole direction of the game has been altered. (Think of it like a Marvel timeline, or the plot of any time travel movie.)
The VAR decision is then reverted to the original on-field call — so if a goal is disallowed for offside, it’s given as a goal.
If a penalty has been canceled, it is considered awarded and scored, unless the team in question has a penalty-conversion record of 50% or below over the season. For instance, Burnley and Watford missed half the spot-kicks they were awarded, with Brighton on 57.1% and Man United on 60%. If 50% or below, a penalty may be judged to have been missed.
If a team has been awarded a goal through a penalty or an incorrect offside through VAR, the goal is disallowed.
We then took into account a series of factors before settling on a predicted outcome:
Team form: Results in the previous six matches give an indication of how a team has been playing generally.
Time of incident: For instance, if an incident happens late in the game, it’s less likely that the scoreline will change again after this point.
xG at time of incident: This allows us to consider which team has been creating the better chances and is in the ascendancy.
Team strength: As well as form, a team’s general strength plays a part. This factors in league position, and a team’s goal-scoring and defensive records across the season.
Impact of incident: For example, a red-card decision being reversed may change the outcome of a match.
These results were then used to modify the table and work out what impact VAR has had on teams’ positions this season, with the arrows indicating if their league position is better or worse without VAR.