Premier League agree to use semi-automated offside technology from next season

The Premier League have announced that semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) will be utilised from 2024/25 onwards, with an expected introduction time of September or October.

Currently, offside decisions related to goals are double-checked by VAR officials but there have been complaints and dissatisfaction related to the time taken in checks, the lack of clarity over what is happening - especially for fans inside grounds - and for perceived errors being made. The most notable of those came at Tottenham earlier this season, with Luis Diaz had a goal taken off him after human error led to a breakdown in communication, with the Colombian scoring legitimately but the officials, between them, disallowing the strike.

At present, the Hawk-Eye system uses a gridline or crosshair approach to determine whether an attacker is offside or not, using callibrated cameras around the pitch. From next term, this will switch to the SAOT camera and technology currently used in the Uefa Champions League.

The statement from the top flight read:

“At a Premier League Shareholders’ meeting today, clubs unanimously agreed to the introduction of Semi-Automated Offside Technology.

“The new system will be used for the first time in the Premier League next season, and it is anticipated the technology will be ready to be introduced after one of the Autumn international breaks.

“The technology will provide quicker and consistent placement of the virtual offside line, based on optical player tracking, and will produce high-quality broadcast graphics to ensure an enhanced in-stadium and broadcast experience for supporters.”

It is anticipated that, on average, around 30 seconds per decision could be saved by utilising the SAOT techology and, as the technology works almost instantly, assistant referees will be informed of any offsides while play is ongoing so that they can raise their flags if an offending player is involved.

While not exactly the same system, SAOT was used at the World Cup 2022 in Qatar, with a chip embedded inside the matchday ball. SAOT is already in use in Serie A, while LaLiga will introduce it from 24/25. For Euro 2024, Uefa plan to switch to the chip-in-ball version used in Qatar.