Howard Webb reveals plans for Premier League referees to explain decisions to fans in-game

PGMOL director Howard Webb has told talkSPORT that fans could soon hear referees justify their decisions as he looks to ‘draw the curtain back’ on communications.

Webb, who refereed in the Premier League between 2005 and 2014 returned to the UK to take over at the PGMOL [Professional Game Match Officials Board].

Webb suggested big changes are coming

VAR has been one of the biggest talking points


VAR has been one of the biggest talking points

So far it’s been a tough job for the 51-year-old, who has been forced to apologise to top flight clubs on a number of occasions for botched calls.

There has also been endless debate about the VAR , what their remit is, why some decisions take so long, and if there’s any way things can be clearer.

Webb discussed those issues with talkSPORT at the EFL awards, and said that big changes could be just around the corner.

“We’re doing everything we can to be as transparent as we can,” he said. “But there’s some parameters that we have to work within that FIFA set, but we’re going to push those. 

“We’re going to do everything we can to draw the curtain back, we’re going to do some stuff post-game that’s not been done before fairly soon and then if we can do stuff in-game we’ll do it.

“We’ll see what we can do post-game, even in-game with the stadium audience, that’s certainly my intention and hopefully you’ll see some developments in the coming weeks.”

Brighton have received a total of three apologies for incorrect decisions this season


Brighton have received a total of three apologies for incorrect decisions this season

Asked if we could see a system like rugby and cricket where referees communicate with the stadium audience via microphone, Webb responded: “It might be, I know for some time they’ve had the opportunity to listen in to people. 

“Since I came here I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the communication with the officials. 

“We’ve started showing broadcasters how good the communication is and that’s been really well received, we want to give that to the public and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see it.”

He added: “It’s quite tough in the stadium to get that narrative out in the more complex situations but we need to do everything we can to have the stadium audience go along with us because when you show the rationale for a decision, you might still disagree with it but when you understand it you’re much more likely to accept it.

Webb shares fan frustrations with the use of VAR


Webb shares fan frustrations with the use of VAR

Webb was also asked about the length of some calls, which can cause huge delays to matches and frustrate fans.

“I agree it should hardly ever take three minutes,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll have a complicated situation building up to a goal with three or four offside judgements and you’ve got to check them all, you can’t just check a couple, but if it’s a single judgement it shouldn’t be taking a long amount of time.

“I’ve told them it needs to be one that jumps off the screen at you, if you’ve seen it at a few angles and it’s doing that then recommend a call, I’m also saying to the referees that when you go to the screen, if you want to keep your decision then keep it. 

“Something’s that clearly wrong is what we’re looking to capture, we’re not working in those subjective grey zones that split opinion, that’s not what it’s for, it’s to capture those really clear ones, and they shouldn’t take long.

“We have too many decisions that split opinion and the world of football is played in the grey zone quite a lot so I think we just want to be as accurate as we can be and capture those really clear errors and work through that grey zone in an a really credible way, these are talking points that are always going to exist.”

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