Last week, standing with the other members of the supporter’s bus and waiting for it to arrive, the discussion turned, naturally, to VAR.
And I figured that it was time for a confession. So many of the readers of this blog and people I know in general told me that this would be a disaster for us. They predicted every one of the developments we’ve watched.
The only thing is, none of this has cost us points or anything significant.
But the fact is, I am surrounded by people who told me, very vocally, that VAR would not help us, and that in fact it would be something that would be used against us at every available opportunity. Furthermore, I was told that it would be used to benefit Ibrox.
Were they right? Was I wrong? So far, it looks that way.
So far I have no case for the defence. VAR looks like something that is being utilised as a weapon both against us and in favour of the club across the city. It’s hard to come to any other conclusion.
The news this weekend that VAR will only be used in two Scottish Cup matches further fuels the controversy.
What is the point of this technology if it’s to be used only selectively in the biggest games? As some have already pointed out, this is scandalous and if only two clubs are to be scrutinised by it (one helped, the other hindered) then where’s the level playing field? Where’s the sporting integrity? This is not how it was meant to be.
Yet I haven’t quite given up yet. Maybe that’s arrogant, maybe it’s stupid. But I still VAR can benefit the game, and benefit this club. For the first time in a long time the debate over referees and their standards is raging in the media and online.
And that, in part, is what Celtic were hoping for.
Look, this has enabled us to get in front of the governing body and take them to task on certain officials and the way decisions are made. It is hard to shake off the idea that in some way we wanted this fight.
Indeed, this is why I thought VAR would be a net gain for us, because decisions as egregious as those which we’ve been watching would no longer be dismissed as something done in a moment, a snap decision, covered by “people make mistakes.”
But Celtic can see the pattern of those “mistakes” and we’re now pursuing the matter. That means that to some extent VAR has done what it was meant to. VAR has started the discussion.
VAR has stirred up the status quo and there’s no going back.
I think there’s a distinct possibility that the VAR experiment will come to an end in Scotland at the end of the season. Clubs don’t like it. Managers hate it. And it is casting too much light on how bad – or how corrupt – our officials are here.
At this moment I won’t miss it. But it would be a missed opportunity.