“It’s ridiculous” – Former Referee on VAR implementation in Scottish football

VAR, it would be safe to assume, has certainly split the room when it comes to its implementation and use in football. The word controversial doesn’t quite do justice the fiery exchanges that have been had as a consequence of its introduction to our game. The English Premier League throws up moments of huge debate in the mainstream media and the pros and cons of VAR are forever being espoused by pundits and legends of the game in equal measure.

BRAGA, PORTUGAL – SEPTEMBER 30: The referee, Stéphanie Frappart looks on VAR during the UEFA Europa League group F match between Sporting Braga and FC Midtjylland at Estadio Municipal de Braga on September 30, 2021 in Braga, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Some say it’s an excellent addition and helps the referee and others point to the contrary that it merely spoils the game and hinders the match officials in the process. Now it would seem that Scotland are about to introduce it and not only that, the authorities wish to fast-track the technology it is good to go directly after the World Cup in Qatar later this year. Some trial games with the equipment have to be done prior to its full introduction within the Scottish game.

One it’s denouncers is a former SPFL referee, Des Roache, who has delivered a scathing attack on the proposed move by the governing body and feels it is a preposterous idea to introduce half way through a domestic campaign. As reported by Record Sport, Roache said: “It’s ridiculous. You tell me that the SPFL have sponsors in line, they’ve got teams that are going to be there, they know they need 12 grounds equipped and they have not got enough time between the first of January to the end of July, start of August, to have these grounds and this equipment?

“We’ve seen them in Hampden in their Star Trek booth, doing their stuff. Why is it not ready? We’re stalling on it and to me it’s ridiculous.”

WOLFSBURG, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 29: Match referee Georgi Kabakov checks VAR for a penalty decision during the UEFA Champions League group G match between VfL Wolfsburg and Sevilla FC at Volkswagen Arena on September 29, 2021 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

The former official also revealed that the new techological advances has the possibility to hamper the big two in Scotland when speaking to the Get Involved Referee Podcast. He said: “I think the fact that Celtic and theRangers are predominantly attacking more, are in the opposition penalty area more, they potentially might not get as many decisions as they would before because we didn’t have that minute detail to go and inspect.

“But at the end of the day the better teams win because they’ve got better players and they’re scoring more goals, not because referees give them more or less decisions. Will they be hindered by it? Quite possibly.”

It remains to be seen whether or not it will be a help or a hindrance to the game this country yet. Admittedly, the timing of the proposal does seem somewhat odd; but then again, just about everything the SFA and SPFL seem odd to football fans. One thing is for sure, Mr Roache is not shy in telling the authorities his opinion on the matter and there may be a strong feeling within the officials in this country that resonates with his view.

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 19: A general view inside the stadium as the LED Screen displays a VAR message checking for a possible penalty during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at London Stadium on September 19, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

As an attacking side, Celtic could very well be slowed down by the introduction of VAR. We play at such a high tempo and the movement of Maeda and Kyogo in particular is lightening quick. It could see the game stopped continuously because the ref wants a closer look at the play in the build up to goals or challenges. On the other hand, could it prevent Kyogo especially from being wrongly called offside countless times during a match and ensure assaults like Andy Halliday on Callum McGregor and Callum Butcher on David Turnbull are a thing of the past?

You have to remember though, it’s who is controlling the VAR that counts as well. Having bore witness to the – I’ll be generous and say – gross incompetence of officiating in Scottish football, are we to feel comfortable now that we have the ability to review decisions?

That rests entirely with the referee…

Just to put your mind at ease also… Ibrox employee Nick Walsh is the referee for today.

Nobody said it would be easy!

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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