Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou expressed major frustration with the implementation of VAR following a dramatic 4-2 win over Dundee United as he claimed technology was changing the game and disrupting entertainment.
United scored their first of two equalisers from a VAR-assisted penalty and the Australian was baffled over how long it took to look at other incidents including Sead Haksabanovic’s second goal and Liel Abada’s stoppage-time effort, which was checked for offside.
“I don’t think people fell in love with football just to be sitting around waiting for someone in a building miles away to decide outcomes,” Postecoglou said.
“They do not need to take that long. If they have seven camera angles it seems like they want to look at every one. I know it’s early doors and it’s a new toy that everyone wants to use but you can’t be disrupting games like this.”
Steven Fletcher cancelled out Haksabanovic’s early tap-in from the spot after Alexandro Bernabei was booked for handball, after referee David Dickinson reviewed footage of the United striker’s header hitting him on the arm after he jumped for a header.
“It seems like any time the ball touches your hand in the box – apart from when you are playing Hearts away – it’s a penalty,” Postecoglou said.
“So if that’s the case, they could have seen that in the first screen that it hit Berna’s arm. But why take so long?
“His arm is in, I think, a natural position when you go up for a header. He is not even looking at it and it’s a yellow card. It’s the reason I took him off at half-time, I had no faith that I could keep him on because anything could come across.
“This is not me having a rant about VAR. I have no issue with VAR, I just have an issue with how it’s being used. It’s changing our game. It’s changing what we all knew to be the laws of the game.
“I was always pretty clear what a handball was, deliberate handball. I played the game, you kind of know. But it seems that’s not the way.
“That’s the problem we have got now, we have let technology come into the game and rules that have been in place for over a century that we are all comfortable with are all of a sudden having to be looked at.
“I don’t think that’s what VAR was for. VAR, I thought, was there to pick up clear and obvious errors. Clear and obvious. Someone is having a shot from that distance and it hits his arm, how they can say that’s clear and obvious? I don’t get it.
“The problem with technology is they are going to have to change a lot of rules because they are re-refereeing the game, which is the one thing they said they wouldn’t do. But they are, there’s no doubt about it.
“And I feel for the officials because I have no doubt that they are scared to make decisions, they would much rather let it go and see if VAR picks something up.
“We scored the second goal and we were celebrating for two minutes and they are still checking when they are about to kick-off. What the hell were we waiting for? There was nothing there, I could see that in the first screen.”
Postecoglou was also frustrated over video referee Nick Walsh’s lengthy check for a possible red card against Craig Sibbald for a high boot when Dickinson had not even given a foul.
He added: “I’ll cop teething problems but we have got to be learning along the way. I mean five minutes added on to the first half of a game of football. It is crazy.
“We can’t take away from the fact that we have 60,000 people here. Of course they want to see us win but they are also coming to watch a spectacle.
“They are not coming to watch someone in a building miles away take two or three minutes to make a decision. I just don’t think that’s what it’s for. Anyway, that’s my rant.”
United levelled for a second time in the 87th minute when Dylan Levitt’s cross appeared to go straight in after Tony Watt tried to glance home.
But Kyogo Furuhashi headed home from a last-minute corner before Abada made sure of a win that sent Celtic seven points clear in the cinch Premiership.
United head coach Liam Fox said: “I’m more frustrated for the players than anything else, they put so much into the game.
“We all know how difficult it is to take anything from Celtic Park, so to get ourselves in a position to do that and then to switch off from a set-piece.
“It’s not good enough from us that late in the game. We know there’s going to be an onslaught.
“We worked on that during the week, which makes it even more frustrating. I understand when you make subs that there’s an element of change to the set-ups that we do but we need people to take responsibility and step up in these moments.”