Scotland’s leading referees are set to be snubbed from European and international matches because we do not have VAR in this country.
Leading officials such as Willie Collum and Bobby Madden will be excluded from major Champions League and Europa League matches and are also set to miss out on the Euro 2020 finals next year.
Former referee Charlie Richmond fears Scotland is in danger of becoming a refereeing backwater because we lag behind much of Europe when it comes to adopting the video assistant referee technology.
Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the Scottish Professional Football League, has said that cost of bringing VAR to the Premiership is prohibitive.
But Richmond says we need to catch up with the rest of Europe. All of the major leagues are using VAR this season – England. France. Germany, Italy and Spain. But there are also versions in Belgium. Holland, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, Poland and Czech Republic.
Richmond said: “If we don’t get in line and start using the VAR system in Scotland then you won’t see our guys going abroad.
“That was evident when Bobby Madden went to do his Champions League match recently between Bayern Munich and Red Star Belgrade
“The VAR officials were flown in from Holland because it’s only Bobby and Willie Collum that are trained in VAR.
“It was the same when Willie covered Juventus against Bayer Leverkusen – the VAR officials came from Spain.
“So we can’t send a full team of six Scottish officials to a Champions League game. So when it comes to the more important games our referees will miss out because Uefa will insist on a full team of six who work together
“The Europa League brings in VAR from the last 32 onwards and I can’t see our guys getting matches. It will be the same at the European Championships next year.
“You only have to look back a few years and find that Craig Thomson covered a Champions League quarter-final second leg between Dortmund and Malaga. That will not happen now because we don’t have Scottish officials fully trained in VAR.
“Bobby is at a very important time in his career and he wants to go up to the next level and become one of the elite. But if he’s not getting the support of the SFA effectively he won’t make that jump.”
Managers and players are also desperate for the system to be brought in to cut out refereeing mistakes. Richmond added: “It’s the funding aspect – how are we going to pay for it? But you don’t need to go all singing, all dancing.
“Our major matches are covered live by the main television stations so all you would need to do is put a couple of VAR officials in place in a van at the stadium.
“We should trial it at games like the Betfred Cup semi-finals and final and the Scottish Cup semis and final, for example. Then we see how it works and take it from there.”