Populous avant Stockley Park VAR facility


New facility opens at Stockley Park Image: Populous

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

‘POPULOUS’ stated that 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.

London (UK)-based the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) is the body responsible for refereeing games in English professional football.

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is a match official in association football who reviews decisions made by the referee. The Assistant Video Assistant Referee is a current or former referee appointed to assist the VAR in the video operation room.

The Stockley Park is a business estate and public country park located between Hayes, Yiewsley and West Drayton in the London Borough of Hillingdon (UK). In August 2020, it was listed in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England as Grade II. The Stockley Park is the home of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Hub.

Kansas City (US)-based Populous is a global architectural and design practice specializing in sports facilities, arenas and convention centers, as well as in the planning and design of major special events.

Christopher Lee, Managing Director EMEA, Populous, UK, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

‘POPULOUS’ further stated that the above 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 (the aim is to establish a new global standard in match officiating performance and development) is enabling enhancements across all aspects of refereeing, which includes this new home designed to provide an elite environment to the VAR teams to best support the on-field officials.

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

Nottingham (UK)-based the instinct laboratory is a unique business comprising three distinct teams – research, behavioral sciences and creative design. It leverages unparalleled understanding of human behavior to build world-class environments that alter the way in which one makes choices and decisions. The instinct laboratory’s experience stretches across the globe, with large blue-chip clients in a variety of industries and sectors.

The IMG, originally known as the International Management Group, is an American global sports, events and talent management company headquartered in New York City (US).

Informed Howard Webb, Chief Refereeing Officer, PGMOL, “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 center, both for VAR work and for general refereeing development. Good officiating always starts on the field of play and we expect good performance, but the 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.”

Added David Land, MD of Populous EMEA Design and Build Group, “This has been an exciting project to work on with the PGMOL. From initial space planning through to the final buildout, we collaborated closely with the instinct laboratory and IMG to create a bespoke facility that is designed to help the VAR officials perform to their optimum level.”

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