FA defends use of VAR at only nine of 32 third-round Cup ties

The Football Association is to proceed with a plan to use VAR at only nine of 32 FA Cup third-round fixtures, believing the benefits of using the technology outweigh inconsistency in the way ties could be decided.

Only matches played at Premier League grounds will have video refereeing because the FA Cup is not licensed to use VAR across all its fixtures. This means that West Bromwich Albion’s tie against Brighton on Saturday will not use the technology despite it being installed at the Hawthorns and there will not be uniformity in the refereeing.

The FA Cup has used VAR since 2018, when it became the first competition in England to implement it as part of a trial. The FA has never applied for a full licence to use the technology, however, which must be agreed with the football lawmaking body Ifab.

Last season VAR was used only at ties where Premier League clubs were at home up to the quarter-finals, where all matches were then licensed. The FA has not yet taken a decision on whether to license later rounds this season.

The FA is aware of questions over a potential imbalance in sporting standards but is reluctant to increase the running costs of the tournament, with clubs not licensed having to install the necessary minimum of four cameras and costs having to be covered to operate them and hire the necessary officials.

“Video assistant referees provide match officials with additional support and should be utilised wherever possible,” the FA said. “However, only Premier League stadiums are currently licensed to use VAR due to the infrastructure, workforce and costs that are required.”

The Premier League introduced VAR permanently at the start of the 2019-20 season. The EFL opted against doing the same owing to cost, but five Championship clubs have the technology after seasons in the top flight. Reports have suggested some Championship clubs want the league to adopt “VAR light”, a scaled-down system approved for trials by Ifab.