Why there will be no VAR for Carabao Cup semi-finals

  • VAR has been used in Carabao Cup semi-finals since 2018/19
  • Technology not used in 2023/24 competition so far
  • No VAR for upcoming semi-finals
VAR will not be in place for the 2023/24 Carabao Cup semi-finals
VAR will not be in place for the 2023/24 Carabao Cup semi-finals / GLYN KIRK/GettyImages

Rejoice! Rejoice! The midweek football headlines will not be dominated by the misuse of, dare I say it, VAR.

There's not a major Premier League encounter that goes by without pundits, commentators, and proficient Tweeters (are they now 'X-ers'?) putting their regurgitated two cents into the discussion regarding the technology.

It's just dull, with such discourse undermining the games themselves.

Despite calls for its removal, VAR is here to stay in the English game, but the start of 2024 has seen supporters earn some respite. The technology wasn't ubiquitous at the weekend for the FA Cup third round ties, and it will now not be in place for the two Carabao Cup semi-final ties.

Here's why:

Why there will be no VAR for Carabao Cup semi-finals

Since 2018/19, VAR has been in use for all Carabao Cup semi-final ties - as well as the final, of course. It's absent from rounds one to five.

There were not expected to be any changes this time around with Championship side Middlesbrough hosting Chelsea and Liverpool taking on Fulham in this week's semi-final first legs.

However, the EFL have since decided that the technology will not be in place for any of the upcoming matches as Middlesbrough's home ground, the Riverside, lacks the necessary technology to operate VAR.

An EFL statement wrote: "Given the system is not installed at one of the participating semi-finalist Clubs and to maintain fairness and consistency, VAR technology will not be used in the Carabao Cup semi-final stage this season.

“This is in line with previous rounds of this season’s competition when at some grounds, but not all, VAR has been available.”

The decision arrived amid the ongoing FA Cup third round where VAR was in use at all Premier League stadiums but nowhere else. As a result, many raised questions regarding a possible imbalance as some teams could benefit from the technology while others simply didn't have the chance to.

VAR will be in operation during the 2023/24 Carabao Cup final no matter who progresses with Wembley already having the technology installed.

2023/24 Carabao Cup semi-final fixtures

Date/Kick-off Time (GMT)



09/01/24 / 20:00


Middlesbrough vs Chelsea

10/01/24 / 20:00


Liverpool vs Fulham

23/01/24 / 20:00


Chelsea vs Middlesbrough

24/01/24 / 20:00


Fulham vs Liverpool