Celtic and Rangers bosses in starkly different responses to the arrival of VAR in Scottish football

Celtic and Rangers are no strangers to VAR but both will experience it for the first time in a domestic setting when the technology makes its Scottish football debut this weekend.

Both clubs have become accustomed to Video Assistant Refeeres in Europe – indeed Celtic were the first Scottish side to be penalised by VAR when Copenhagen were awarded a penalty for a handball aganst Ryan Christie in a Europa League last 32 tie in Denmark in February 2020.

Since then both Old Firm sides have been involved in multiple VAR incidents in continental competition most notably during Rangers run to the Europa League final last season when they were awarded crucial penalties against Dortmund and Red Star.

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Perhaps then it may be no surprise to hear Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst speak warmly about the prospect of having VAR in a Scottish Premiership match for the first time when his side hosts Livingston at Ibrox on Saturday.

The Dutchman firmly believes that it is something that "everyone will benefit" from.

"It's good because I'm used to VAR already," he said. "We had it in Holland quite early. I think we were one of the first countries to have VAR. We had it in China and in Europe we have it. I think it's good for the game that we finally have VAR in the country. Of course it was meant to be after the World Cup but I'm glad they have pushed it forward and I think it will help all of us. Discussion points after the game, big decisions in games where the referee can have help. I think everyone will benefit from it."

That appears to be in stark contrast to the views held by Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou who insisted that the introduction of VAR will have no bearing on him and his players ahead it being used in the live televised Saturday 12.30pm kick-off against Hearts at Tynecastle Park.

"I'm probably the least excited man about VAR," he told Sky Sports News. "My hope for this weekend is that we don't have to use it because the referee hasn't missed anything.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Celtic counterpart Ange Postecoglou gave differing views on the introduction of VAR in Scottish football. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

"It's a tool there for the referees. It shouldn't really affect us as managers and players.

"We've already got experience with it in Europe so we know what it's all about.

"I understand the general excitement about it but I'd much rather talk about football."

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On whether Celtic will be better prepared for VAR than other Scottish top flight sides due to their European experience, Postecoglou added: "I don't think so. It depends what sort of focus you have becuase if your focus is on officials then whether it's there or not you'll constantly talk about them or focus on them.

"I've been here 16 months and I doubt people will have noticed me talking about referees or refereeing decisions whether that's in domestic or international competition.

"For me it doesn't really affect what we do. It's there as a tool to help the officials – and I think they need help – but it won't affect our preparation or the way we go about our business."

Van Bronckhorst was asked a similar question and, again, provided a vastly different response.

"I told the players as well it goes both ways. It's positive for you. I remember the game we had in Europe with the penalty or Dortmund away, the handball. But it will also be against you if you have handballs in your area. But my players are used to it in Europe and now we have it every game.

"I don't think it's about benefits to bigger or smaller clubs. In the end it's all about how many times you come into situations. If you play against a really defensive team in a deep block only defending in their own box of course there will be many situations where it might be a penalty or offside or not. I don't think it's bigger club or smaller club it's just where does the game happen – in your own box or in the box where you're attacking. In the end if you are a dominant team you will always have more moments and situations happening close to the goal."

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