VAR in Scottish football: SFA green-lights study into costs and benefits as clubs are asked to make call

VAR was introduced in England and hasn't been without its problems
VAR was introduced in England and hasn't been without its problems
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The Scottish FA is to ask member clubs to make a decision on the introduction of Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) in Scottish football in the new year.

The association's chief executive Ian Maxwell has given the green light for a study into the costs and benefits of bringing the controversial system to the Scottish game, according to the Daily Mail, with club chairmen due to be asked if they are happy to pay out a reported £1 million per year to follow in England's footsteps.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard all but suggested VAR should be implemented in Scotland's leagues after Celtic's contentious winner in the Betfred Cup final. TV replays suggested that goalscorer Christopher Jullien had been offside when he netted the winner from Ryan Christie's free kick.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Maxwell revealed plans for a vote as early as April 2020.

"Because of the way England has implemented VAR, and the focus received, it has led to fewer people pushing for it in Scotland," he said.

"'But we have had a couple of high profile incidents recently that would have been corrected, you might have thought.

"In the early part of 2020 we need to be going to [the clubs] and saying, 'there's the cost guys, do you want to do it or not?'

"We would also need more match officials and we are in the process of finalising details of how much that would cost. I would like to think we would have all that completed within the first three months of 2020.

TV deal to help fund VAR?

"Ultimately, clubs are going to have to pay for it one way or another because it is either coming from the league distribution prize pot - the money left over when all the costs are stripped away - or it's coming from the Scottish FA pot distributed to clubs."

The SPFL is yet to make a call on the introduction of VAR but one suggestion is that the bumper new Sky Sports TV deal coming into play at the start of the 2020/21 season could help to fund the implementation.

A lot hinges on whether lower league clubs would be prepared to sacrifice a portion of their income for a system that would only be in use in the Scottish Premiership.

Maxwell continued: "We could make a decision on the Scottish Cup and decide to do it for the semi-finals and final. We could make that call.

"But it's not our decision to make for the SPFL, it's a question for the clubs themselves."

Scotland's leading referees have reportedly backed the introduction of VAR, despite widespread criticism of its impact both in England and overseas.