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The Premier League is set to trial so-called 'robot-refs' in four grounds next season with a view to FIFA eventually overseeing a global rollout of the system.
For those of you hoping to see a metallic, automated 'Mike Dean 4,000' patrolling Old Trafford next season, we have some mildly disappointing news. These are very much robotic VAR refs rather than the on-pitch variety.
The new, Hawk-Eye developed system uses skeletal technology to track movement and can therefore deliver near-instant offside decisions as opposed to VAR's unloved lines across the pitch.
The system will be trialled at the grounds of England's four Champions League-qualified clubs - Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea - next season, according to a report in Sun Sport (although it will be strictly in live trials, rather than actually used for match-day decisions).
Developed by Hawk-Eye, the company responsible for goalline technology, FIFA apparently want an operational system in place for the 2022 winter World Cup in Qatar.
The tech tracks 29 points on a player's body and can give on-field officials offside information within half a second. One secret test at an unnamed Premier League ground last season apparently yielded "extremely promising" results.
Now it will be tested at the Etihad, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Anfield (where offsides mean more?) with a view to eventually replacing the current, often lengthy, VAR review process.
Hawk-Eye apparently used the system in "non-live trials" during FIFA's Club World Cup in January and were happy with the results.
We personally cannot wait until an automated robo-official is alerting Michael Oliver that Timo Werner's hip bone is offside from 2022 onwards. The beautiful game!
Imagery: PA Images
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