Rangers have called again for the introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in Scottish football after saying the club has “suffered” from a number of decisions going against the team in recent games.
The Ibrox side signed off for the winter break with a 2-1 victory over Celtic, their first at Celtic Park since 2010 and one that narrowed the gap at the top of the Premiership table to just two points.
However, senior figures at Rangers are unhappy with incidents during the game, including Celtic’s goal and a foul given against Alfredo Morelos, who was sent off late in the game. They have cited these examples, as well as Celtic’s winning goal in the League Cup final, as evidence that referees need assistance from technology.
In a statement published on the club’s official website, Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson said: “This is not a criticism of referees because they often have to perform under very difficult conditions and in a highly emotive environment, as do our players and coaches.
“The speed at which the modern game is played also means it is extremely difficult to make split-second calls with the degree of certainty required.
“We believe the introduction of VAR would help referees enormously and reduce the number of wrong decisions which sometimes have a dramatic effect on the outcome of matches.
“In recent weeks, Rangers has suffered from errors of judgement but it is our strong view that VAR would be to the benefit of everyone and in particular the referees themselves.”
The club statement then detailed key points in recent games where it was argued that Rangers had been unfairly penalised.
It read: “In this month (December) alone, Rangers has suffered from three glaring errors in key matches. On December 4 at Pittodrie the referee failed to see Alfredo Morelos had been fouled inside the box and awarded a free kick outside the penalty area. The referee apologised to Steven Gerrard after the match but the damage had been done and Rangers had to settle for a 2-2 draw and the loss of two points.
“Then, just four days later at Hampden, Rangers lost the Betfred Cup final when the officials failed to see that not just one, but three players were clearly offside when the only goal of the final was scored.
“On Sunday, during the final game before the January break, the referee and his assistants awarded a goal even though the ball had been deflected into Allan McGregor’s net off a hand of an opposing player. That goal should never have stood and would undoubtedly have been overturned had VAR been in use.
“A number of other incidents, including the clear foul by Julien on Alfredo Morelos as he attempted to break clear, were also missed. Instead, and inexplicably, a foul was given against Alfredo. “
Following Morelos’ dismissal, the forward made a gesture as he left the field which some had described as a “throat-slitting” motion. Rangers argue that the gesture has been misinterpreted and is an example of the Colombian being treated unfairly since his arrival in Scotland.
A Rangers spokesperson wrote: “There can be little doubt Alfredo is singled out for special attention, on and off the field of play. Indeed, some of the things said and written about him leave a lot to be desired and do nothing to suggest Scottish football is the most welcoming of environments.
“Even Alfredo’s gesture as he left the pitch is now being portrayed in some quarters as something sinister when, in fact, it is a gesture used commonly throughout South America to indicate quite simply that something – in this case, the match – is finished.”
Rangers have previously written to the Scottish FA calling for VAR to be implemented and the governing body has been conducting a study on the cost and processes involved.
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell has said that he hopes to bring a proposal to clubs early in 2020 so that members can decide if a system is to be brought into use in domestic competition.