Scottish football will introduce Video Assistant Referees (VAR) from next week with the new system being used for the first time when Hibernian play St Johnstone in the Premiership.
Clubs voted earlier this year to introduce the technology to aid match officials with their decision making and after a lengthy planning and testing period VAR will be used in all top flight games from October 21.
The system will also be used in the latter stages of the main cup competitions with the semi-finals and final of the Scottish Cup and League Cup using the facility.
VAR is intended to be used under FIFA’s principle of “minimum interference, maximum benefit”.
The VAR officials, who will be current or recently retired category one referees, will monitor play at a central video operations room. They will alert the on-field referee if they believe a serious incident has been missed or an obvious error has been made.
The referee can then view the incident on a pitchside monitor and decide whether to overturn the original decision.
VAR officials can have a better view of game-changing incidents, with a minimum of six cameras to be deployed at games.
The system will only be used in the event of a clear and obvious error or a serious missed incident, where the issue being looked at is a straight red card, penalty area incident, goal or case of mistaken identity.
Crawford Allan, Scottish FA head of referee operations, believes it is essential to help match officials.
“We are delighted to have received approval to introduce VAR in Scottish football,” he said. “We have worked extensively over a near three-year period to get to this point, have tested in every cinch Premiership stadium as part of the training process, and we are ready to go.
“As we have seen across the world, VAR has helped ensure a higher percentage of on-field refereeing decisions are accurate and that is a principle our match officials support.
“I am grateful to the match officials who have given up their time to take part in the training programme and I would like to thank our VAR working group and our key partners at the SPFL, and in particular its COO Calum Beattie, for his help throughout the development phase, as well as the cinch Premiership clubs who have all been supportive and engaged in the process.
“Hawk-Eye and QTV also deserve praise for their technological expertise in creating a world-class VAR centre here at Clydesdale House.”
Calum Beattie, SPFL chief operating officer added: “When 41 out of 42 clubs voted at our General Meeting in April to introduce VAR into the cinch Premiership, we said that the technology would be introduced after the World Cup. Our clubs made clear that they wished for VAR to be introduced as soon as possible and the Scottish FA deserve real credit for being able to make this announcement ahead of schedule.
“VAR exists to increase the accuracy of refereeing decision-making and while the experience of other leagues demonstrates that implementation will not be straightforward, we are all committed to assisting the Scottish FA to help it bed in as quickly as possible over the next few months.
“Following the announcement of the biggest television deal in the history of Scottish football with Sky Sports, this is yet another step forward for the game in Scotland.
“The cinch Premiership is currently 8th in the UEFA coefficient rankings thanks to the recent success of our clubs in UEFA competitions and this development brings us into line with other comparable European Leagues.
“We would like to thank our 12 cinch Premiership clubs for embracing the process – and the significant financial commitment – and hope that everyone involved will show a degree of patience and understanding in the initial phase.”
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