The Premier League could abandon the use of VAR when the 2019/20 season gets back under way, reports claim.
And the Daily Mail say there are concerns over video assistant referees being infected or spreading the disease, with a team of three officials operating in a small room at Stockley Park for each match.
Forcing three officials into close proximity would go against the government’s social distancing guidelines if they were still in place by the time football returns.
Alternatives include VAR technology being used at stadiums or remotely in specially equipped vans.
It is understood the Premier League and the PGMOL will begin talks over whether VAR is used amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg is of the opinion VAR cannot be used until social distancing measures are relaxed, but he also believes football cannot resume until VAR can continue to be used.
He told the Mail: “If social distancing is still being enforced when the football season is finally resumed, then there is no way the VAR bunker at Stockley Park could be used.
“Certainly not if there are multiple Premier League matches being played at the same time.
“It all takes place in one windowless room. Each team consists of a VAR, an assistant and a Hawk-Eye operator, who work together in close quarters with a collection of monitors in front of them.
“Maybe if one match was played at a time, then they could spread out, be given a desk each, keep their distance and get on with the job.
Give COVID-19 the red card
The quicker we work together to stop coronavirus spreading, the sooner we can get back into the pubs, the gyms and stadiums and arenas to see live sport again…
STAY AT HOME. Only leave for the following purposes:
- to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
- to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
- for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
- to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary
For more info and tips, visit the NHS website.
The government has also issued further detail on what we can do during lockdown.
Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.
“Another solution is you could place the officials in vans outside of the stadiums, and make sure they stay two metres apart in there, too.
“But in reality, I don’t see how football can start again until social distancing is completely relaxed by the government.
“There are too many risks involved. You couldn’t restart the season without VAR either, because then that would distort the competition.
“Imagine if Aston Villa were relegated because of an offside goal or a decision that VAR would have overturned had it happened earlier in the campaign? The fallout would be huge.”