Aberdeen release stinging VAR statement, days after Celtic letter to SFA

Aberdeen have released a stinging statement about VAR in Scotland after a meeting with the SFA. The Pittodrie club have endured a fairly torrid season but have been involved with some questionable decisions – such as the late challenge on Duk in the League Cup Final, handball at Ibrox or penalty decisions in the Hibs game.

The statement, however, was released after Bojan Miovski’s goal was disallowed in the dying stages of their game against Livingston. As posted on their website on Wednesday afternoon, the Dons questioned the quality of VAR in Scotland as they took aim at the technology.

“Aberdeen FC feel compelled to address supporters following Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Livingston in West Lothian, when Bojan Miovski’s late goal was disallowed following an intervention from the Video Assistant Referee.

“AFC have deliberately retained a relative public silence throughout VAR’s lifespan in Scotland, despite some challenging situations both last season and this. We have instead chosen, for the most part, to air grievances around specific decisions, or make any suggested improvements, privately.
However, that position is no longer tenable following a meeting earlier this week with the Scottish FA, where the club was provided an opportunity to see and hear the transcripts relating to Saturday’s disallowed goal in the Scottish Premiership match versus Livingston.

“The outcome of which was:

“The Hawkeye system failed in the lead up to Bojan Miovski’s 92nd minute goal at the Tony Macaroni Arena, so the Video Assistant Referees (VARs) were unable to rely on any reliable calibrated lines to determine, with the normal degree of certainty, whether Angus MacDonald was offside or otherwise. The Scottish FA have confirmed to us that they have already launched an investigation into why this failure happened and their officials put into a difficult position.

“The VARs then used a freeze frame to determine whether they thought Angus MacDonald was in an offside position when the free kick was taken by Leighton Clarkson. The ability for the VARs to do this is contained within the VAR protocols.

Referee Euan Anderson signals after the completion of a VAR Review to conclude that the goal, scored by Liel Abada, is ruled out for offside during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Livingston FC at on December 21, 2022 (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“The Scottish FA accepted there is no conceivable way the VAR could tell definitively the deepest position of Livingston midfielder Daniel McKay’s body, because from the only angle available – the 18-yard box camera on the Main Stand side – the lower half of McKay’s body is completely obscured from view, blocked by other players. Even if his full body was visible, it’s impossible to determine who was closest to the goal line with no on-pitch ‘markers’.

“Therefore, it was acknowledged by all in attendance at the meeting that the VARs had to effectively guess on what that position might have been based on the limited information available to them, and that was the basis on which to overrule the on-field call of the assistant referee, who did not raise his flag. It is our strong belief that in such an instance, and for the integrity of the game, the match officials should stick with their original on-field decision without the strength of evidence to overturn that and essentially re-referee the passage of play.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – NOVEMBER 12: Match referee Willie Collum awards a penalty to Celtic after consulting VAR during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Aberdeen at Celtic Park Stadium on November 12, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“This course of action was chosen ahead of asking the referee, himself, to look at the freeze frame and make a determination, which is permitted under the protocols when it’s a matter of opinion rather than factual, or more appropriately, in absence of a definitive outcome from the camera, sticking with the on-field decision, and giving the benefit of the doubt.

“What this situation demonstrates, in our opinion, is that the version of VAR that Scottish football has, or more accurately, can afford, is not suitable for the purpose in which it is intended. It perfectly highlights the limitations in the technology, the inappropriate implementation, the consistency of decision-making, and the negative impact on the overall experience for the match-going supporter.

“This is, of course, not an issue that we believe is in any way exclusive to Aberdeen FC. We are not being partisan because we believe a decision, or at least a process, has not been at all effective at the weekend. We acknowledge there have been occasions where we ourselves have been fortunate to have benefitted from some of the observations and limitations raised.

“The Scottish FA, with the help of the SPFL (via the Competitions Working Group), have an on-going review of the use of Video Assistant Referees within Scottish football. Aberdeen FC is committed to playing an active role in those discussions and will work with all stakeholders to try and improve the output because, at the moment, we do not believe VARs presence is enhancing the game in this country.”

The statement is quite remarkable from Aberdeen and comes just weeks after Brendan Rodgers made comments about the standard of refereeing in the country. The Celtic manager essentially made the claim, as Aberdeen have, that games were being refereed and was charged by the SFA, resulting in a one-match ban for his comments.

Fabio Silva dives inside the Celtic penalty area and cons a penalty from Alistair Johnston, referee John Beaton initially booked Silva for simulation but reversed the yellow card and awarded theRangers a penalty kick after a VAR sent an edited clip for review. Photo Stuart Wallace/Shutterstock

The re-refereeing comments come back into relevancy when considering Celtic’s 3-3 draw with Rangers at Ibrox with John Beaton being told to consult the monitor after he adjudged Fabio Silva to have dived in the Celtic box. The whistler was very close to the incident and had a clear, unobstructed view of the incident but was still told by his VAR at Clydesdale House, Nick Walsh, to review the footage. There, he was shown select footage of the incident, which did not show the contact on the ball from Alistair Johnston nor Silva already going to the ground.

Aberdeen have had their meeting with the SFA and have published the outcome in a fascinating statement. However, we are yet to hear the outcome of Celtic’s correspondence with the SFA regarding the decision that gave Rangers a shot in the arm at the weekend. It would be interesting to hear, in similar depth, how that meeting transpired.

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About Author

Born just as Celtic were stopping the Ten, Lubo98 follows Celtic home and away and helps run his local Celtic Supporters Club. He goes to all the games and is a Law Graduate. Has a particular fondness for Tom Rogic among the current Celts and both Lubo and Henrik form his earliest Celtic memories.


  1. Ah the magic words “integrity of the game” they have no integrity. If we get rid of var, that is what I believe they want, it’s back to honest mistakes.its not var that is the problem it’s corrupt officials.

  2. david fraser on

    Get in there and make it about Celtic…FFS clubs have been done by VAR when facing your mhanky club!!!

  3. When you have comments from uneducated people like the one above from a David Fraser, these people can only embarrass themselves. They have zero education to be able to make their point, so they think, “let’s call people names” “that makes people listen to me!” While in fact, it doesn’t. It makes people pity their ignorance and inability to think and debate their points. Shame really.
    The facts are there for all to see, and eleven clubs in the SPFL are unlikely to be wrong!
    The SFA/SPFL are the most openly blatant corrupt organization in Scotland since the liquidation and ultimate extinction of the old rangers in 2012.
    Every club knows it, and only the new club, the tribute organization, supports this corruption. Why wouldn’t they after all?
    Right now they are applying pressure to the SFA to penalize Dundee by way of handing them the three points to the new club without kicking a ball! They haven’t quite come out yet and SAID this! But they sure are dancing around it!
    Maybe the match should be wiped out with no points for either club. How about that?
    After all, haven’t this new club already been handed enough points this season (at least) that they haven’t earned?
    Mr. Fraser. You could benefit from a little education. Try starting by going to a children’s library and working your way up. There could be some good books to learn from there.

  4. Would love to see a list of var complaints from all spfl teams and see exactly how many involve the cheats.