Wolves' motives questioned as proposal to scrap VAR fails miserably
EPL

Wolves' motives questioned as proposal to scrap VAR fails miserably

Jun 6, 2024

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Fans from prominent Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters’ groups are questioning the club’s approach and motives in its failed proposal to scrap VAR.

Wolves outlined numerous issues with the technology last month and forced a debate on its future at Thursday’s annual general meeting of the Premier League’s 20 clubs. The subsequent vote was a 19-1 landslide in favor of keeping video review in England’s top flight, albeit with improvements.

The resounding victory for VAR isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of Premier League fans’ views on the system.

Daniel Warren, chair of Wolves 1877 Supporters’ Trust, remembers the club chairman, Jeff Shi, being “taken aback” by the anti-VAR sentiment at a meeting with Wolves’ Fan Advisory Board on April 30. However, given the short turnaround between hearing supporters’ calls to abolish or seriously reform VAR and Wolves’ official proposal to scrap it (May 15), Warren suspects the club didn’t do much work aside from lodging the complaint.

“I don’t think they (worked) with other clubs in the background to gain support for it,” Warren told theScore last Friday. “Whenever there’s a rule change or they’re looking for something, usually, it’s a number of clubs that propose a motion. In this case, it was just Wolverhampton Wanderers.”

Pete Bassi, a director of the Punjabi Wolves fan group, felt Wolves’ bid to kill VAR was unrealistic.

“I thought they should’ve worked it better. Rather than scrapping it, I think they should have gone down the route of saying, use it a different way or be more consistent with your outcomes,” Bassi said before the vote.

“It’s never going to get scrapped. They’ve invested too much money and time into it,” he added.

Warren, the 1877 Trust chair, also fears that there was an ulterior motive when Wolves rallied against VAR. He believes it was a ploy to “butter us up” before hitting fans with major rises in season ticket prices eight days later. The increases have priced out three of his friends, and he says he plans not to renew his season ticket on principle.

ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP / Getty

The cost increase across the board was around 17%. Wolves have since made some concessions following Tuesday’s meeting with the Fan Advisory Board, including promising a freeze on adult season ticket prices for the 2025-26 campaign after next season’s raises. The club also reneged on season-ticket price hikes for under-14s for the 2024-25 season, therefore retracting the controversial 133% jump – from £105 to £245 – for that age range in the family enclosure of the Billy Wright Stand’s lower tier. The club says the pricing strategy and structure of junior season tickets will be reviewed ahead of the 2025-26 term, in consultation with the Fan Advisory Board.

Alex Moore is the co-founder of Old Gold Pack, a group that coordinates fan displays at Molineux, and he understands the suspicions raised by Wolves fighting VAR before swiftly lifting season ticket prices. He describes the increases as “an exploitation of loyalty” and “a real dagger to the heart” for match-going fans and the local community.

“To do what felt like a complete U-turn on an approach to the fans, which was win us around with VAR comments and then turn your back on us with season ticket prices – who knows if that was a direct connection but I can see how people would make that connection,” Moore said Tuesday.

theScore emailed Wolves’ press department last Friday to request a response to fans who suspect the anti-VAR stance was used to appease supporters before the season-ticket price increases. theScore then sent Wolves that question again Monday while asking if the club tried to corral support from other Premier League members for their proposal to scrap VAR. There has been no response to either email.

A league-high seven overturned decisions went against Wolves while none were ruled in their favor during the 2023-24 season, according to figures from ESPN’s Dale Johnson. West Ham United were the second unluckiest team with eight overturned decisions against and four in their favor.

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