The Premier League have revealed changes to VAR and substitutions for the 2020/21 season and they will both please Sheffield United.
The video assistant referee was introduced to the top flight of English football last term and caused plenty of controversy.
Not least for the Blades, who despite finishing ninth actually came off very badly when it came to VAR.
Overall, they had eight overturns against them. Only Norwich City and West Ham United had more. This included four goals being disallowed, including John Lundstram apparently having a toe offside in the buildup to David McGoldrick scoring at Tottenham Hotspur.
They had three decisions go in their favour, bringing their net score to -5 overall. Only Norwich’s is worse at -7.
At the Premier League AGM, the Blades confirmed on their website that is was decided VAR would now be in line with FIFA protocol. According to the Sun, this means that referees will use pitch-side monitors to judge close decisions from now on.
VAR will also be used to determine encroachment from goalkeepers and outfield players during penalties. Finally, assistants should not raise their flags for tight offside calls, as it causes confusion.
The Blades were the victims of this against Newcastle United, when Jonjo Shelvey was flagged offside but went on to score. VAR later judged Shelvey to be onside, but the defenders had stopped when they saw the flag.
What other changes could benefit Sheffield United in 2020/21?
While some fans may consider the alterations to VAR as a small positive, if at all, one other key change should definitely help the Blades next year.
The introduction of five substitutes in games post-lockdown was not favoured at Bramall Lane. Manager Chris Wilder was critical from the outset, telling the Daily Mail in June: “It favours the powerful clubs. We don’t think it’s the right way to go about it.”
In comparison to most clubs, Wilder has a small squad at his disposal. The ability for other teams to utilise this to their advantage is arguably unfair.
It’s perhaps why the Blades’ results during the restart were not as good as before lockdown.
Therefore, they will welcome the news that the Premier League will return to having three subs, as before, for 2020/21.