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Scotland needs VAR or risks being left behind, says referees' chief

Crawford Allan says the system can get decision-making up to around 99% accuracy.

Scotland needs VAR or risks being left behind, says referees’ chief Crawford Allan SNS Group

Scotland’s head of referees believes that the introduction of VAR in domestic football is essential to drive up standards of officiating and improving the game for everyone.

The Scottish FA has been exploring the introduction of the technology to help match officials and has built a VAR centre at Hampden to practice with the system and demonstrate the benefits.

The governing body’s head of referee operations Crawford Allan has been training officials for the past three months and says Scotland will be left behind if VAR isn’t brought in soon.

He told STV: “If you look at the appointments internationally, in the Champions League and Europa League, a lot of appointments are going to Polish referees, Dutch and Portuguese.

“It’s countries that use VAR week in, week out.

“By getting our referees to operate at that top table, it’s a bit like the players, if they’re international and getting the experience, they’re bringing it back to Scotland. We’re no different.”

Category one referee John Beaton has been using VAR in European football and believes that the benefits are there for all to see.

“I think in terms of just knowing the big decisions are correct [it’s important],” he said. “If you make a decision during a match, it can sometimes play on your mind whether you’ve got it right or not.

“Certainly throughout the course in terms of management of the players, they will have a perception that it’s right or wrong.

“If we can know that it is the right decision, or indeed change it to get the right decision, it’s massive for the credibility of our own performances and the league.”

VAR won’t end debates and controversy, but referees believe it will improve decision-making.

“We’ve got some statistics from leagues that use VAR, “Allan said. “Our stats are very broadly similar.

“For key decision making we’re already getting 92-93% accurate. VAR takes it up to about 99%.

“There’s always going to be that 1% where you have an opinion though.”

Allan believes that the benefits to bringing in the system are widespread and that in a game where fans can see replays of many incidents instantly on television or social media, it’s only right that referees have the same advantage when making crucial calls.

“From a refereeing perspective, we want to improve the decision making of referees,” he said. “We all know that VAR at the moment is informally, you could say, being used around Scotland in that you can see footage sometimes before the referee sees it.

“[It’s about] looking at the quality of the decision and enhancing that. The managers want it, we visited the clubs about last August or September and we got a real positive vibe, enough for us to invest in the training room and in our training.

“So the Scottish FA are investing heavily in VAR. We need to make sure that the product we have, from a refereeing perspective and a playing perspective, is the best it can be.

Clubs will discuss VAR later this season before taking a formal vote on its introduction, with the earliest we could see the system used in competitive games likely to be at the beginning of 2023.