Quick-start for VAR in Scottish Premiership could help referees before World Cup in Qatar

Video assistant referees could be in use across Scotland’s top flight earlier than anticipated this season as talks continued to expedite the introduction of the system.

VAR, already in use across the top UEFA competitions and 25 leagues across Europe, was sanctioned by all but one SPFL club in April.

The system was to be implemented during the first half of the season before becoming operational at the turn of the year following the break for the World Cup in Qatar.

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However talks to bring forward the technology’s use could have the replay analysis used as early as October with the league campaign just over two months old and a full cycle of league fixtures played.

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The earlier start for the system was discussed by the SPFL at the league’s AGM on Monday.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell stated last month that his own preference would be to bring VAR into Scottish football “as soon as we possibly could do it,” following criticism of the system being brought in halfway through the campaign. Maxwell said the plans were preferable to waiting until next summer to bring the additional aid for match officials, who have welcomed the technological support.

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Six cameras will be used at top flight grounds in Scotland, and at Hampden for the League Cup semi-finals an final in January and February.

At the system training and trials in March, Grade One official Don Robertson said: “We’re in 2022, so there can be a decision on the field that I called incorrectly and within seconds viewers at home can see what the decision should have been and spectators in the stadium can see it on their phones. Often you’re the only guy in the stadium who doesn’t know.

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Referees went through VAR training at Hampden in March. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

"VAR is an opportunity to solve that problem. You can get that decision right on the field and it won’t be an injustice on the team.”

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VAR will be monitored by trained referees at a ‘nerve centre’ near the M8 motorway. It will cost in excess of £1m a season to run – fees which will be met by top-flight teams dependent on finishing position.

Portugal was the first European country to use video technology in a domestic game, the 2017 Portuguese Cup final, with Germany’s Bundesliga and Seria A in Italy following later that year.

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The big screen at Ibrox shows a penalty check by VAR during a UEFA Europa League match. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
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VAR has already been used in Scotland during European game and Scotland internationals. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

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