VAR Will Be A Game Changer For Celtic … Unless Refs See Only What They Want To See.

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We won the game at the weekend, and that’s the only reason that a lot of our sites weren’t giving prominence to a few key decisions, including a foul in the lead-up to St Johnstone’s equaliser and another incident where Giakoumakis was elbowed. It was also the weekend that another high dubious penalty was awarded for the Ibrox club.

The pattern is unmistakeable. The solution should be on its way, as VAR gets set to be implemented in Scotland for the first time for domestic uses. A number of questions remain unanswered though. Who will be in charge of the system? How do we know that our cut-price version will capture everything it’s supposed to?

More to the point, how can we be convinced that the system is legit if it doesn’t, or at least if some massive moment in the game goes unscrutinised?

The more you think about it, the clearer it becomes that the system itself is not enough. Refs are still going to have an awful lot of room to interpret some of what they see, and without robust changes to the way the officials are treated here in Scotland that will pose problems. With the arrival of this technology, it is surely time refs were asked to explain themselves.

That’s why some of us hold out hope for VAR.

It should put pressure on refs to get key decisions right, lest they be subjected to the scrutiny of the machines and allowed no room to squirm. But that room will exist unless officials are specifically made to defend the calls they make whilst using it. Even now two people can see a bit of footage and interpret it a different way … if all we do is give refs the ability to take a second look, we still rely overmuch on their being on the level.

But what if an official isn’t? What if he sees a blatant shove in the box, VAR confirms that it happened and he still refuses to penalise for it? What if he “sees” an incident, goes to VAR for a second look and concludes that an innocuous challenge merits a red card even if no official in world football has the same interpretation he does?

And this will happen, and we all know that it will happen. VAR itself is not a panacea; it needs to come with reforms in other areas or we’re pissing in the wind.

When talking about the Ibrox incident, in the papers, ex-ref Charlie Richmond said “(VAR) would certainly look at that because it’s a major decision. The people who operate the technology would bring it to Nick’s attention and ask him to go over to the screen for a second look.”

First, what if they don’t? What if those running the technology don’t have any problem with a highly dubious decision like that? And secondly, what if they do bring it to the ref’s attention and he goes over and looks at it and decides it’s still a penalty?

VAR means that there will be no hiding place from the more egregious decisions, but if we’re not holding people to account for “mistakes” made even in its use then we’re doing ourselves no favours at all. And I am saying this as someone who supports its introduction.

Celtic has to be pushing for greater transparency before it comes in. Because there will be no point in doing it after the first “honest mistakes” have been made.

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  • S Thomas says:

    There will be teething problems with it, that’s for sure. I watch a lot of epl games, and there is still issues with it every so often, but in general it has been a positive for the game. You mentioned about what if refs disagree, and what this, and what that. A mean what if you went on a plane, and it crashed, what if you went for a swim and drowned. There will be initial problems, like everything else. But In the medium, to long term it will be a benefit to the Scottish game. I’m very much looking forward to it, being implemented.


    The only reason the SFA are introducing it is basically greed.
    They have been more or less told that no major European Finals / Tournaments will be
    allocated to Scotland until we move out of the dark ages.
    Secondly the Refs are birrlin about not being selected for ‘ European Nights’ abroad (match Fees and Expenses… kerching).
    It’s all about the money.
    That and the SFA Heid Yins not getting the opportunity to strut their stuff in front of the wider European Media.
    VAR itself is a diversion. It’s the same corrupt bigoted officials who are running it.
    Nothing will change for Celtic. Motherwell vHearts, St Mirren v St Johnstone and the rest will be reviewed properly as a blind. Celtic will still be labelled as ‘Paranoid Time’.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Although ahm for it and hopin more than beleivin, it’ll benefit the game here, ah think sometime down the line we’ll be right back tae square one tbh, dependin who’s ‘judgin’ the decisions and the old ‘paranoia’ card gets pulled out their arse again. If, as I suspect, we dae start seein this same pattern developin, then agree, its time for our clubs directors tae step in and make somethin of it.

  • SSMPM says:

    Some of these refs, not all, will still interpret the game and apply it to the advantage of one club as they always have. The penalty against St Mirren was an absolute shocker so would VAR have cleared that up – depends on who the operator is and if they’re honest enough to query the ref’s decision and then if they are, whether the ref is honest enough to change the decision. Two too many ifs already and that’s before you consider what happens outfield.
    I thought the refs were not selected for European and World Cup games because they’re a bag of shite

  • 1887188’ says:

    Most of our refs are on the level, James, but probably not in the way you mean.

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