Many leagues are becoming more transparent to fans about revealing the conversations that go on between on-field officials and video review officials, with MLB showing their Zoom Operations Replay Center live on some broadcasts and the XFL featuring both video and audio of their command center during reviews. Now the Premier League is doing something similar, but in a more limited way at first. They’re planning a one-time broadcast special before the final day of their season, March 28, which will make audio from on-field officials and video assistant referees (from important decisions across the season) public for the first time:
The Premier League and PGMOL will make audio from on-field officials and VAR public for the first time as part of a one-off television pilot.
— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) May 8, 2023
That Athletic story by Ali Rampling notes that this is a joint initiative between the league and Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL, the body responsible for refereeing matches across multiple levels of soccer in England), and that it will feature on-camera appearances to help explain calls from PGMOL chief refereeing officer Howard Webb (a Premier League referee from 2003-2014, he’s also worked as a BT Sport analyst and as a referee operations executive in England, Saudi Arabia, MLS, and now England again after taking this current role in December). Here’s more on that from that piece:
The programme will aim to continue to increase the openness and transparency of officiating – areas Webb targeted to improve following his appointment to the revamped PGMOL leadership team.
…“We want to engage with people, and manage expectations a bit better than I think might have been done before, and be receptive to feedback,” Webb said in December.
“As it stands at the minute, clearly there’s a feeling that the perception could be better, and the level of transparency could be better.”
While this is a one-off special, it’s being done “with a view to releasing officials’ audio more frequently from 2023-24 onwards,” as per Rampling. So it will be interesting to see if this becomes something we see more regularly. The date and time for this special is not yet known, but it will be aired on Premier League broadcast partners, so it will likely be on one of NBCUniversal’s platforms Stateside.