Tue. May 28th, 2024

One year on from its Scottish football debut, Sky Sports has been given unprecedented behind-the-scenes access at VAR HQ in Scotland to find out if the technology has been a success…

It was on October 21, 2022, that VAR was first used in a Scottish Premiership match as Hibernian took on St Johnstone at Easter Road.

A lot has happened in the 365 days that followed and while the Scottish FA’s head of referee operations Crawford Allan says he is pleased with the journey his team are on – he believes things will continue to get better.

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Scottish FA head of referee operations Crawford Allan reflects on the first year of VAR being used in the SPFL

“We can be continually improving our success rates,” he told Sky Sports. “Am I happy with the journey we’re on? Yes. Do I think we can be better? Absolutely.

“Are we continuing to learn and communicate and hopefully prove the clarity to the stakeholders? It’s something we’re continuing to work on.

“There’s a long way to go, but we’ll continue learning. We’ll never get somewhere where we’re all happy, we never will, but generally yes, I’m happy with where we are at the end of year one.”

Greg Aitken – who is one of two dedicated VAR officials in Scotland – has revealed refs are continuing to learn and have even evolved processes after a major error in the Premier League after Liverpool’s Luiz Diaz wrongly had a goal disallowed at Tottenham earlier this month.

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Listen to the audio recording of the VAR discussion that led to Liverpool’s wrongly disallowed goal in the 2-1 defeat at Tottenham

“We have learnt from that and we have been provided with further coaching as a result of that,” he told Sky Sports. “Again, there are areas from that coaching that I have personally built into my pre-match instructions. I’ll sit down with my assistant VAR and replay operator and we’ll probably use that as an example of ‘if this happens, here’s how we’ll deal with it.”

Aitken has taken up his role at Clydesdale House – Scotland’s VAR HQ – after a number of years on the field and admits the pressure is just as huge.

He said: “As an on-field referee we’re making decisions in split seconds, we’ve seen one angle. In the VAR room, we’ve got the privilege of six cameras on every match and many more on our live broadcast match, so it possibly is unforgivable if we don’t scrutinise a decision as thoroughly and as clearly as what we should, having the bonus of the six different angles that we do have.

“So the pressure’s different, it’s maybe a bit more intense, but having the beauty of the six angles gives you the confidence that you’re going to get to the right outcome.”

Sky Sports was given exclusive unprecedented access to VAR HQ in Scotland and previously unheard audio between officials during VAR checks

The introduction of VAR has introduced a new level of scrutiny on decisions, however, Allan believes that extra pressure is good for his team.

He said: “My aim is to make the Scottish football product the best it can be and by that, that includes having referees who are on the field of play at the best level that they can be.

“The level of scrutiny is a challenge. They love operating at the highest level, the same as any player, but they accept that there’s scrutiny that comes with it.

All Scottish Premiership matches have at least six cameras in operation to assist the VAR

“After one or two perceived errors in the public eye, we may look at that and say we’ll give you a week or two in a different area of Scottish football or a different league, with coaches coming to see you and giving you feedback and then build confidence. It’s the same with a player who needs that, so I don’t think we’re any different on that.

“What I can guarantee is that the referees absolutely feel accountable. They know that every decision is scrutinised and they know that if there are errors that just keep on reappearing, and I know fans will say ‘yeah, but what about so and so, they’ve had longevity of careers and they’re still here’, that’s because they get a heck of a lot more right.”

First-ever Scottish Premiership VAR audio released

As part of Sky Sports’ ‘VAR in Scotland: One Year On’ programme, head of referee operations Crawford Allan analysed some incidents from over the past year, with audio that has never been broadcast – highlighting how things work behind the scenes…

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SFA head of referee operations Crawford Allan talks us through the awarding of handball against St Mirren’s Ryan Strain and a penalty to Rangers with previously unheard VAR audio

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VAR audio and video analysis shows why the penalty awarded to Ross County at Motherwell was overturned

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Watch as VAR intervenes to help overturn Jake Doyle-Hayes red card for Hibernian against Celtic for a tackle on Hyeon-Gyu Oh

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The post VAR in Scotland – one year on: Exclusive audio of incidents released to Sky Sports but has it been a success? appeared first on WorldNewsEra.


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