Cost of goal-line technology ‘prohibitive’ for Scottish football

Marco Negri scored a controversial goal for Rangers against Hearts in 1997. Picture: TSPL

Marco Negri scored a controversial goal for Rangers against Hearts in 1997. Picture: TSPL

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SFA chief executive Stewart Regan has revealed referees may be able to consult video replays in Scottish Cup ties from next season.

The idea has been discussed by the International FA Board (IFAB) and a decision whether to approve the experiment will be taken at its annual general meeting in March.

Regan said it was something he “would like to see pushed forward.” He added that talks would be held with member clubs before any final announcement was made.

Referees would be able to consult a touchline official before making such contentious decisions as whether to award a goal or send off a player. The so-called ‘video refs’ would watch a replay of requested incidents.

The practice is already used in major rugby union matches and soccer bosses believe a similar system could work in the national game.

But one innovation that remains unlikely to be adopted by the Scottish game any time soon is goal-line technology, which instantly alerts a referee if the ball has crossed the line.

The cost of such systems are said to be prohibitive, and not all grounds in the SPFL are thought to be suitable for its installation.

The SFA’s head of referee operations, John Fleming, said in 2013: “As an association we are in favour of goal-line technology.

“However, as the general secretary of Fifa himself, Jerome Valcke, outlined, the installation of each system will cost a six-figure sum on top of any maintenance costs.

“That would make it prohibitive, I would suggest, for the respective league bodies in Scotland, the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League, to consider rolling out any time soon.”

The desire for goal-line technology to be introduced in Scotland is explained by numerous controversial decisions over the years.

LEIGH GRIFFITHS (Hibs v Hearts, 2013)

Griffith’s spectacular 40-yard free kick for Hibs in the Edinburgh derby would surely have been named goal of the season - if referee Euan Norris had not chalked it off. Most players - and supporters behind the goal - were in no doubt, and subsequent replays showed the ball was at least a foot across the line after striking the cross bar. The match finished goalless, and Hibs were denied their first league win over their city rivals in four years.

STEPHEN ELLIOT (Hearts v Celtic, 2012)

Hearts were on the receiving end of a controversial goal-line decision in February 2012 against league leaders Celtic. Stephen Elliott’s header early in the game appeared to cross the line before it was cleared. To add insult to injury, Celtic promptly broke away to open the scoring through ex-Hibs player Scott Brown.

PADDY CONNOLLY (Partick Thistle v Dundee United, 1993)

It’s fortunate television camera were present to capture this goal that never was, otherwise future generations would never believe it happened. United’s Paddy Connolly fired home from close range, with the ball cannoning off a goal stanchion and back on to the pitch. Thistle player Martin Clark even acknowleged the obvious goal by picking up the ball. It was then referee Les Mottram waved play on, assuming the ball had hit the post - a decision that baffled fans then and is still talked about by supporters to this day, amassing more than four million views on YouTube. Such incidents led to ‘box nets’ becoming standard in top flight football by 2000.

MARCO NEGRI (Rangers v Hearts, 1997)

Italian striker Marco Negri joined Rangers in a £3.5 million deal from Perugia in 1997 and briefly set the Premier Division alight. He scored an impressive 32 league goals in his debut season - but as any Hearts fan will tell you, the real figure should only have been 31. In a match at Ibrox, Negri lashed at the ball during a goalmouth scramble that was eventually cleared by the Hearts defence. Watching the incident again, it is clear the ball is no where near crossing the line. But the goal was given - and Negri added a second just moments later to rub salt into the Jambos’ wounds.

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