Should Scottish Football Implement VAR?

Since the VAR was first implemented in the Premier League, a widespread debate has risen in different sports circles following multiple controversial incidents this season. That makes many Scottish football fans wonder whether it would be wise to welcome the technology in Scotland following a contentious kick off south of the border.

Implemented in the EPL this season, the use of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has dominated sports news headlines and Premier League talking points. New issues seem to arise after every passing fixtures round, making sports experts wonder if the technology came a little too early. Today VAR checks are influencing even the best betting offers, making it more interesting for punters.

VAR checks were blamed for failing to award a penalty to Watford following a foul by Tottenham’s earlier in October. That came as Jurgen Klopp continued criticizing the technology for allowing the controversial goal that Manchester United scored against Liverpool to stand. United would have lost the match at Old Trafford if the goal was overturned.

How the VAR Works

VAR communicates with the referee on the field using an earpiece, and the referee puts his hand up to pause the match and announce the decision being reviewed. This decision depends on the reviewed video footage on an incident that advises whether an action is necessary or not. 

In case an error has occurred, the referee draws a rectangle with his arm replicating a TV screen to change the original decision. For more subjective incidents, the referee is instructed to watch a replay on the pitch-side monitor. That’s commonly known as an on-pitch review.

Changes That Might Help The VAR Succeed In Scottish Football

While sports experts have criticized VAR technology all over the world, a few changes might like the ones implemented in the EPL might `prove useful for the Scottish league. For a start, the referees must be instructed to avoid on-pitch reviews whenever possible. These kinds of reviews are known to create long delays during a game. Instead, the referees on the field should learn to trust the advice given by the VAR system.

According to former referee Neil Swarbrick, VAR should use a “higher threshold” in reviewing decisions and intervene only when there’s a clear case of glaring errors. That doesn’t include offsides. Neil has been on the frontline to ensure VAR implementation goes smoothly in the Premier League.

What Are The Common Concerns Of Var In Scottish Football?

Since the VAR was first used in the world cup, there have been several teething problems and controversies. The main criticisms include:

  • Fans aren’t always aware when a certain decision is being reviewed, especially in venues without big screens. However, many Scottish football clubs still don’t have the facilities.
  • The subjective nature of soccer rules makes it hard for a system to give a fair decision despite the replays being readily available.
  • The time required to reach a decision disrupts the game’s flow. In the EPL, La Liga and Bundesliga, some matches using VAR has taken five or six minutes of the first-half period.


While VAR has been criticized in different leagues over several controversial decisions, the Scottish League isn’t new to controversies either. However, not many clubs are willing to take a financial hit for the technology to be brought in. Nonetheless, it’s a pity to see that Scottish referees are left behind without getting exposed to VAR or getting help from the technology.