Hearts boss says VAR fan experience secondary to getting decisions right

Naismith insists his view on the Video Assistant Referee remains unchanged.

Steven Naismith is “not interested” in the way VAR impacts fan experience as long as the decisions are right.

The Hearts boss was quizzed on the technology after a VAR Independent Review Panel (IRP) found 13 key incidents from Scottish Premiership games that it deemed to be incorrect.

Hearts games were among a number of incidents reviewed, including when an on-field review for a potential red card for Kilmarnock’s Will Dennis against the Jambos in December should have been recommended.

Statistics released by the Scottish FA showed that had been 378 VAR reviews in the second quarter of the season.

The majority are silent checks that involve no intervention, while some are ‘factual’ decisions or overturns such as offside where judgement is not an issue.

Of the remaining incidents reviewed by the IRP, 13 were deemed to be incorrect, up from three incorrect decisions in the first quarter of the season.

Naismith insists that the trend should be going in the opposite direction but that “outside noise” hasn’t helped referees and VAR officials.

He said: “My view hasn’t changed. I think it ultimately is good and it will help.

“We’ve been through the process and there were teething problems at the start of it. Could it have been better? It could have been.

“There’s been instances that have affected us that first hand have impacted the game with wrong decisions. For me that’s not down to VAR, that’s down to the decision makers at the time.

“It is new, so mistakes will be made. Rather than it going from three instances to 13, we need it going from three instances to two, and then to one.

The Hearts boss reckons there's been a lot of SNS Group

“What hasn’t helped is a lot of noise on the outside that is unjust for the officials and the VAR system. Soundbites if you like that stoke the fire, which aren’t helpful.

“Every club knows the process, what the process for every decision is. It doesn’t suit every individual agenda which can deflect away from what has been a bad performance or result.”

On the change in fan experience since VAR’s introduction and whether it should be binned, he added: “No. The stats and facts show we’re getting more decisions right than wrong.

“I totally agree that it impacts the fans’ experience, but from my position if it impacts the experience of people and a wrong decision goes on the wrong side of my team and we suffer from it, I’m not interested.

“I want us to get the best decision and the right decision. Whether the way we do it changes, that’s not my position to tell you that.

“It has got a place in the game but its being more consistent, getting better decisions and that does take time.”

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