If VAR’s “Full Time Officials” Means Real Reform Celtic Should Welcome The Change.

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Yesterday, the story broke that club concerns over VAR are forcing the powers-that-be to consider a radical change to the system; full-time VAR officials. The small print will have to be scoured for any signs that this will make matters worse, but if these guys are coming from outside of the SFA – outside of Scotland one would prefer – Celtic should be all for it.

The problem here is not with the technology but those operating it.

This we already know.

If we’re taking a step towards remedying that situation, then why not support it? But it will depend on the personnel. Standards in Scotland have been abysmal for as long as I’ve been watching the game, but never so bad as right now.

So even bringing in “veterans” won’t cure the nagging feeling that all we’re doing is tinkering around the edges and paying lip service to the idea of reform. If we’re going to have reforms they need to be real. If change is coming it has to be meaningful.

And that means breaking the link between what the SPFL needs and what the SFA wants to give them. The best proposal, by far, that I’ve heard on the subject of reform of refereeing is the idea of having a National Referees Service, perhaps funded, in part, by government grants and in part by sponsorship, but which is essentially a business whose function is to train officials for the use of football clubs here and elsewhere.

The SPFL would have a choice whether to use these people – accredited, transparent, accountable and on good salaries – or to go with the bog-standard garbage we put up with at the moment. I’m not against the idea of full-time officials, but at the risk of sounding like a Blairite, if they want more money, the conditions of their employment need to radically change.

No more hiding. No more thinking that they can turn in abysmal performances week in week out without consequences.

Declare their allegiances, on pain of suspension if they’re caught lying.

Push them to do better. To think more carefully.

To justify every call that they make, in a way that makes sense, and grade them on it and put that information where the football public can see it. This is no longer a radical departure from the norm. In other fields, in other industries, this is the norm. Managers are judged on the league table and can lose their jobs for it. Why not make refs similarly accountable?

We’re in a place now, finally, where everyone agrees that we need to make big changes because what we’ve witnessed since VAR was introduced is a searing indictment of our officials and the SFA itself. Anyone standing in the way of those changes ought to be made to explain precisely what their resistance to reform is based on.

The football watching public deserves nothing less.

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  • John S says:

    Positions vetted to be neutral by a neutral appointee. Or English. Welsh. French. Any number of such that are not 17th Century aficionados.

  • Pan. says:

    Agreed wholeheartedly with both the article and the first comment by John S.
    Professionals needed.

  • Albert Kidd says:

    The fix is already in. There is an improperly registered ref constantly fannying about with VAR.

    We would like to introduce our new professional head of VAR operations. Please give a nice warm institutional welcome to…….Andrew Dallas.

  • Joseph McLaughlin says:

    If refs in Rugby Union can wear mics and have no fear of explaining their decisions why can’t those in Football follow suit. It’s ridiculous that commentators and viewers as well as those at a match are discussing happenings on the park and trying to work out why a certain decision has been made (or not made).

  • Johnno says:

    To begin any form of reform the LRA has to be disbanded as it should have been done years ago.
    Nothing will change until a corrupt closed shop is finally opened up and club allegiances are declared.
    We all know the reason as to why it still operates within Scottish football and is it any wonder that the game reminds in a farcical state still?
    Not convinced that outside operators will solve the problem as only speeding up such decisions could be sort as the answer to the current problem, which still has to be regarded as not good enough still

  • SSMPM says:

    Full time refs with ongoing monitoring and training is not something we should just agree to. Monkeys can be trained but have innate leanings. A body independent from the SFA is not enough either. Refs’ and VAR officials’ neutrality should be a requirement but I don’t lean totally towards only refs from outside Scotland. That body needs to set the standards agreed by clubs, as trust left the building years ago. It needs to be for all the senior leagues not just the SPL. Genuinely, the League Cup Final ref impressed and showed it can be achieved so it’s consistency and continuity we want and need not the obvious bias of the Dallas dynasty. Thus a lot of refs may need initially to come from outside Scotland. However in the event of piss poor performance and if officiating leads to replacement requirements they must come through the lower leagues. As new or younger refs come through the system and are mainly Scottish then hopefully they’ll have learned to do it with integrity and not from bias and bigotry. The installation of more cameras specific to assisting VAR decision making is essential also. VAR must do better.
    If that’s too much to ask for, well it will be only be for those wanting the status quo. HH

  • SSMPM says:

    @Mickybhoy. Good idea and a possible solution to part of the problem. Assuming rules are applied with the same understanding in each country and officials training and monitoring are applied and have the same consistent oversight. Only difficulties I foresee currently is the VAR technology and the different camera volume and usage being applied in each country.
    Countries appear to be poles apart at the moment, though we should strive for consistency across the game internationally. If that could be achieved I guess under the umbrella of EUFA and/or FIFA and countries already happy with their VAR use were willing; then yes. VAR technology and investment in this country is probably a few years behind that standard though. Like our governing bodies willingness. HH

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