Celtic boss Neil Lennon: VAR would help refs but add to controversy

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is concerned by VAR's use in offside decisions. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Celtic manager Neil Lennon is concerned by VAR's use in offside decisions. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
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Neil Lennon is in no doubt the introduction of VAR in Scottish football would benefit referees but has concerns that it will create more issues than it solves – as in the English top flight.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell is reported to have given the go-ahead to a study into the price and implications of bringing in VAR, with clubs expected to be allowed to vote on a change that would cost £1 million a year.

Maxwell suggested controversies in the system’s early days down south have quelled the clamour for it in Scotland.

But Celtic managerLennon believes the football fraternity remain in favour, but that elements of the rules on offside and handball need to be ironed out to ensure it improves officiating instead of muddying the waters.

He said: “That’s my worry. It’s already causing contention in English football, and they have all the money and the facilities to deal with it.

“I don’t know how it’s working in other countries, but it’s certainly dominated a lot of talk down south, and it’s driving managers crazy. Especially when the stakes are so high.

“It’s about agreeing to it and then trying to implement it as well as we possibly can. We had a managers’ meeting last year and either 10 or 11 out of 12 were in favour of VAR, and the referees were in favour as well. How do we implement it? Every country has its own individual way of doing it, and there is that affordability aspect.

“Will it be a help to referees? Definitely, I think it will. [It depends] how we work it though. It’s got to the point where people think it’s spoiling the game, and certainly the offside decisions really need looked at. We’re 
talking millimetres, and I think that’s wrong.

“There was a goal chopped off earlier in the season for Sheffield United that happened in the first phase of play. It went on to the second phase and 
Sheffield United got a goal, and they’ve went all the way back to the first phase of play, where the guy’s foot is an inch offside. It’s 
ridiculous.

“I’d like to go back to daylight between players. All this about the armpit being offside, it’s nonsense. It takes away a lot of the human element, and you don’t want that because it’s what it’s all about.

“It’s always been a grey area, handball. A lot of it was down to the referee’s interpretation, and with VAR, you again get some mixed messages. Then you have the delays to the games as well. I think that will be a constant source of frustration. It kills the spontaneity.

“I don’t think we’ll have the big screens in the stadiums up here either, it will probably be a TV monitor by the side of the pitch and hopefully that would help the referee. It will open up a can of worms up here I’m sure, one way or another.”