Before VAR, 17 penalties had been awarded in 63 games. We have now surpassed that total in a mere 30 games, with 19 penalties awarded. And our game is worse for it.
Fans at games are now terrified to celebrate last-minute winners in case the goal is chalked off. Supporters wait minutes before being able to celebrate properly while a referee attempts to analyse if someone is offside because their pinky toe is over a line.
And we haven’t even touched on the confusion around handball. Have decisions been better? Have fans had more clarity? The fact we’re asking the question weeks into VAR in Scotland speaks for itself.
Having attended games this season, the introduction of VAR has been nothing short of a nightmare. Anxious waits have followed goals, conversations in the stands have been of nothing else as phones are passed round showing the limited angles available, and the talking points after matches have been around “body shapes” and little else.
The first few weeks were vital to get everyone on side. But VAR has left fans even more divided, with a lack of consistency on decisions and how fans can view outcomes. It is impacting every side in Scottish football. If a questionable handball costs someone the title, survival in the league or are a place in European football, would anyone be surprised if we saw a legal challenge because the angle provided wasn’t conclusive?
We need more transparency. Pictures should be released after major incidents, perhaps in a weekly round-up or on social media. All angles and incidents should have stills released, with lines showing how a decision was made.
With no screens at many grounds, and an inconsistency over what is available after the games, fans are missing out – and questions are still being asked.
We were told there would be teething problems, but with angles of goals and decisions taken from a Google Earth-like distance and little evidence released post-match, the SFA finds itself embroiled in a trust problem when it comes to VAR. The next five weeks are vital to ensure our game still has credibility when it returns.