Mobile phone bans in a room where every call will be scrutinised - what it's like in the VAR nerve centre

There are a large number of TV screens in the VAR hub.There are a large number of TV screens in the VAR hub.
There are a large number of TV screens in the VAR hub.
It doesn’t do to be impressed by any advances in the game undertaken by the Scottish FA. The hard-wiring of the country’s football public ensures that.

Yet, go behind the scenes – and see not just the hard-wiring, but the banks of screens and super-duper technological set-up at the facility in Baillieston’s Clydesdale House that will be the hub for the Scottish football’s VAR operation – and cynicism genuinely seems niggardly. Instead, the equipment and structural lay-out afforded by the SPFL’s media partner QTV provides genuine reason to believe that the country’s top flight clubs have ensured Scottish football won’t enter a brave – and partly scary, it has to be said – new world on the cheap.

The business park on the eastern outskirts of Glasgow that houses the epicentre may be unprepossessing. But as an excitable head of referee operations Crawford Allan showed off the two office-style resource that couldn’t help but give off West Wing war room vibes – insert your own punchline here – there was a palpable sense that the SFA’ s head of football operations is pinching himself all the relevant parties have been willing to go big, go proper on VAR kit. Many more monied leagues haven’t from day one had a control room as well as the operational area. Indeed, Allan noted that English colleagues whom he said had been incredibly helpful in passing on their learnings from the past three years expressed envy that the importance of such adjunct had been recognised from the off in the construction of the VAR systematic processes instigated north of the border.

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These two rooms are separated by a glass panel, with the decision-assessing headquarters boasting six stations and television monitors agogo, as well as a central overview zone. This will be no go-zone for mobile phones or outside-world communications for the refereeing teams beyond contact with on-field officials on matchdays. The judgement calls made within these rooms will inevitably be questioned and castigated. But it seems undeniable the right tools have been put in place to ensure Scotland’s VAR has the best possible start to its life.

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