Populous and PGMOL create new bespoke VAR Facility

Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has unveiled the recently-created, state-of-the-art VAR (Video Assistant Referee) facility at Stockley Park, near London. The bespoke facility has been built by the Populous EMEA Design and Build team.

The referees and assistant referees in Select Group 1 work as Video Assistant Referee and Assistant Video Referee respectively from the space on all match rounds in the top flight of English football.

The facility includes preparation and debrief areas for pre- and post-match, and a dedicated VAR Hub for each match being covered by the Video Assistant Referee and Assistant Video Referee, along with an elite conditioning space and a designated recovery area for the officials to maintain their optimum physical training in line with schedules.

Investment through the Elite Referee Development Plan is enabling enhancements across all aspects of refereeing, which includes this new home designed to provide an elite environment for VAR teams to best support the on-field officials.

Following consultation with football stakeholders, PGMOL subsequently worked closely with partners Populous, Instinct Laboratory and IMG on the creation and design, technical and build of the facility.

ALSD International 2023 will take place at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium October 9-10. Optimising revenue through New Builds, Renovations & Service Expansions is the key focus of this industry-leading event, with architecture & design, fan experience, hospitality, premium sales & service, sustainability and technology taking centre stage. Populous is a returning Presenting Partner Sponsor.

Chief Refereeing Officer Howard Webb said:

It’s a cutting edge and completely bespoke elite performance facility, an environment where the best possible outcomes can be achieved in the VAR space to benefit the game.

It’s not only the perfect space for our officials to work when they are acting as VAR or AVAR though, there are other areas for our officials to focus pre-game and debrief post-game, whilst there’s a gym and a recovery area, as well as a training centre, both for VAR work and for general refereeing development.

Good officiating always starts on the field of play and we expect good performance, but VAR plays its part to ensure that outcomes of games are not decided by clear and obvious errors – we want VAR to be a positive influence.

David Land, Managing Director of Populous EMEA Design & Build group, added:

This has been an exciting project to work on with PGMOL. From initial space planning through to the final buildout, we collaborated closely with Instinct Laboratory and IMG to create a bespoke facility that is designed to help the VAR officials perform to their optimum level.

About Populous

Populous is a global architecture and design practice responsible for many of the world’s most iconic sports and live entertainment venues, including Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Wembley Stadium and The O2. Over the past 39 years, the firm has designed more than 3,000 projects globally. With over 800 staff members across 25 offices on four continents, it has regional headquarters in London, Brisbane and Kansas City.

About The PGMOL

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) group officiate all Premier League matches. Formed in 2001 to improve refereeing standards, the PGMOL group officiate across all the Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and Football Association (FA) Competitions. All three organisations fund it. The PGMOL is responsible for the training, development and mentoring of 117 referees and 177 assistant referees, run by Managing Director Mike Riley (a former PGMOL referee) and a team of managers and coaches. The organisation also oversees the most high-profile officials, the 22 full-time professional Select Group One referees. 

Source & imagery, courtesy: Populous

Sports Venue Business organises and delivers ALSD International – the leading event and 365 community for the Premium Seat & Hospitality sector – on behalf of the Association of Luxury Suite Directors (ALSD).

ALSD International 2023 is taking place at Etihad Stadium this October, with venue tours complimenting the high-level conference, exhibition and networking events. This year’s edition will feature the inaugural Tech Symposium and a Fan Experience breakout being delivered by IIFX.

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