Mike Dean thinks fans will be able to listen to referees and VAR debates… but clubs might charge

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Mike Dean predicts match-going fans will be able to listen to referee and VAR debates ‘in three or four years’… but official warns clubs could charge supporters up to £10 per game for the privilege!

  • Mike Dean believes fans will hear referee conversations in the next five years
  • Ex-referee thinks clubs would back selling headsets because they would profit
  • Fans are left in the dark while decisions are being made with debates private 
  • Dean retired from on-field duties at the end of the last Premier League season 

Mike Dean thinks that fans will be able to listen in on referees and VAR discuss decisions in the near future, but has warned that clubs could charge for it.

The match official retired from refereeing on the pitch after 22 years at the end of last season and has taken up a role in the VAR room.

He thinks that clubs will support the idea and that they could charge match-going fans between £5 and £10 for the privilege to listen to the debates over decisions.

Mike Dean thinks fans will pay to be able to listen in on the debates between referees and VAR

Mike Dean thinks fans will pay to be able to listen in on the debates between referees and VAR

Dean will take the step upstairs next season as he is set to focus solely on VAR duties

Dean will take the step upstairs next season as he is set to focus solely on VAR duties

The 54-year-old told The Times: ‘I think in three or four years it will come in and we will be able to hear what is being said between the referee and the VAR.

‘David Dein, when he was running Arsenal, said when headsets were introduced years ago that he wanted fans to be able to pay £5 or £10 to listen in.

‘The clubs would go for that, if they can make money from charging for headsets to listen in, and it could be another thing for advertising.

‘They have it in snooker and rugby and we will definitely see it come in in the next five years.

‘I think it’s a good thing if you can explain your decision, but I think it should only be when the referee is talking to the VAR that you are listening in. It shouldn’t be every single thing you say.’

At the moment, fans are left in the dark as VAR makes its decision as no audio is played in stadiums. At most fans will see a graphic displayed on a big screen.

Fans can not currently hear officials when they are receiving instructions from VAR

Fans can not currently hear officials when they are receiving instructions from VAR

Fans do not know anything about the decision that will be made until the stadium's screen says

Fans do not know anything about the decision that will be made until the stadium’s screen says

This has led to fans venting their frustrations during longer breaks during the match, especially when they suspect the decision is about to go against them.

For years, there have been call for people to hear what is said amongst referees, this has only hardened since the introduction of VAR into the Premier League in the 2019/20 season.

Sports such as rugby and cricket allow fans to hear what is being between officials which provides complete transparency behind the decisions that they are making.  

What is video assistant referee (VAR)?

The Video Assistant Referee is a system which involves several highly-trained match officials that have access to a range of different camera angles.

The small team of qualified referees are watching the game away from the pitch, safely shut away in a room casting an eagle eye over every piece of play.

When trialed by the Bundesliga, VARs were based externally in Cologne, as opposed to inside the match-day stadium. They communicate with the referee on the field of play via a two-way radio.

In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the VAR referees are all based in Moscow, whilst the game may be happening several hundred miles away. 

Here, the officials will have access to 33 different camera angles, including eight in super slow motion and four in ultra slow motion. 

The tech first reared its head on British shores when England faced Germany in a friendly at Wembley, following successful tests in Germany, Italy and the United States.

How does a VAR decision get made?

The referee must consult VAR — only then does the process of analysis of an incident begin. The VAR cannot simply review anything it wants during the match.

The referee draws the outline of a TV screen in the air so everybody knows what’s going on and that VAR is set to be used. 

They then wait to be told what to do, which sometimes includes going to review a decision themselves on an off-pitch monitor. 

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