Last week brought us the news that Scottish Football is finally considering moving into the modern age and adopting VAR. There will be a vote on that this week so let’s hope our game’s administrators show some foresight for once.

I appreciate the various arguments for and against VAR but I’m not looking to debate that within this article. It’s the way modern football is going and when used correctly, as in the delayed Euro 2020 tournament this summer, it greatly enhances the game.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the SPFL Premiership so far this season and see whether VAR would have been helpful to our officials. There’s only been 8 games so there can’t be many glaring examples eh? Here’s 12 whoppers (plus a bonus!) involving Celtic and Rangers where VAR would have intervened.:

 

1: Rangers v Motherwell, 19th Sep 2021

Incident: Sakala goal not called offside | Ref: Steven McLean

Decision: Goal | VAR Decision: No Goal (offside)

Benefitted: Rangers | Penalised: Motherwell

 

2: Hearts v Celtic, 31st July 2021

Ref: Bobby Madden | Incident: Abada goal ruled offside

Decision: No Goal (offside) | VAR Decision: Goal (not offside)

Benefitted: Hearts | Penalised: Celtic

 

3: Celtic v Dundee Utd, 26th Sep 2021

Ref: Kevin Clancy | Incident: Fuchs tackle on McCarthy

Decision: Booking | VAR Decision: Red Card

Benefitted: Dundee Utd | Penalised: Celtic

 

4: Celtic v Dundee Utd, 26th Sep 2021

Ref: Kevin Clancy | Incident: Siegrist stamp on Abada

Decision: None | VAR Decision: Red Card

Benefitted: Dundee Utd | Penalised: Celtic

 

5: Rangers v Ross County, 22nd Aug 2021

Ref: David Munro | Incident: Balogun handball in penalty box

Decision: Free Kick to Rangers | VAR Decision: Penalty to Ross County + Yellow Card

Benefitted: Rangers | Penalised: Ross County

 

6: Celtic v Dundee Utd, 26th Sep 2021

Ref: Kevin Clancy | Incident: Ajeti goal chopped off for infringement

Decision: No Goal | VAR Decision: Goal

Benefitted: Dundee Utd | Penalised: Celtic

 

7: Rangers v Hibs, 3rd Oct 2021

Ref: Nick Walsh | Incident: Porteous tackle on Aribo

Decision: Red Card | VAR Decision: No Foul

Benefitted: Rangers | Penalised: Hibs

 

Bonus: If you think that’s a red card then I’d love to hear your opinion on this challenge from Lundstrum on Doig in the same game:

 

 

8: Dundee v Rangers, 25th Sep 2021

Ref: Bobby Madden | Incident: McLaughlin tackle on McMullan in the box

Decision: Booking & Penalty | VAR Decision: Red Card & Penalty

Benefitted: Rangers | Penalised: Dundee

 

9: Celtic v Dundee, 8th Aug 2021

Ref: Euan Anderson | Incident: Marshall tackle on Ralston

Decision: Booking | VAR Decision: Red Card

Benefitted: Dundee | Penalised: Celtic

 

10: Hearts v Celtic, 31st July 2021

Ref: Bobby Madden | Incident: Halliday tackle on McGregor

Decision: None | VAR Decision: Red Card

Benefitted: Hearts | Penalised: Celtic

 

11: Celtic v St Mirren, 21st Aug 2021

Ref: Willie Collum | Incident: Kiltie flagged offside

Decision: No Goal (Offside) | VAR Decision: Goal (Onside)

Benefitted: Celtic | Penalised: St Mirren

 

12: Celtic v Dundee Utd, 26th Sep 2021

Ref: Kevin Clancy | Incident: Pawlett foul on Starfelt / Carter-Vickers foul on Clark in the box

Decision: None | VAR Decision: Free Kick to Celtic

Benefitted: No-one | Penalised: Everyone

 

As you can see, VAR would have made a huge difference to these games. In some it would have materially changed the outcome of the game. It’s essential that we bring Scottish football into the modern age with the implementation of this technology.

Whilst we’re doing that, we need to see improved training, accountability and consequences for our match officials. This should be used to ensure referees aren’t influencing games with “non-fouls” that break the flow of the game, examples of which we have seen all season so far.

It has been reported that it will be 2023/24 before VAR will be introduced in Scotland. Why not 2022/23? Can Celtic afford to wait another two years given the decisions made in the first 8 matches of this season? Our board should be pushing for implementation to start in time for 2022/23 and asking the question why other countries of a similar size to Scotland already have VAR (Slovakia, Bulgaria, Greece etc.) and why are we being asked to wait till 2023/24? The introduction of VAR will be to the betterment of Scottish football as a whole so the sooner it’s adopted the better.

 

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