So the SPFL released a refresher on VAR today, to let people know what to expect from it. The news is pretty much as we expected it to be; it will cover four critical areas and no others. That’s the understanding most of us have had about the technology since discussions about it were introduced. The four areas in which it will apply are these;
1) Any issue involving a straight red card.
2) Any incident involving a penalty kick.
3) Any issue involving a goal .. to check for fouls or offside’s.
4) Any mistaken identity where a player is carded.
That’s the remit. As many of us have written, this leaves entire areas of the game in which it will have no impact whatsoever. This is not a huge concern; we watch as our players are fouled and the game is allowed to go on. We see baffling decisions which make no sense except that they break up the rhythm of the team. We see players booked in extraordinary circumstances.
The concern comes with the reminder that VAR basically has an advisory role only, and it depends on what those operating it choose to highlight to the ref. The guy who will be behind the camera for the Hearts game is Steven McLean. That name is grimly familiar.
We’re essentially caught here in the same doom-loop. The usual suspects will be in charge of the technology and they will only be able to advise that their brethren check the footage. At the end of this it will still be in the hands of the most incompetent – and that’s me being kind – officials in Europe. This will still be their decision to make.
I understand exactly why some of our fans are still very unsure that we should be backing this. I completely understand why so many of our supporters do not believe that it will make a blind bit of difference, and why some think it might actually make things worse.
Still, I remain broadly in support of it. It will put refs under real scrutiny even those who run the systems. But clubs must be able to question the decisions if those decisions run counter to what is on those screens. Leaving it up to the officials who have made this technology necessary in the first place just feels plain wrong. And dangerous.