Celtic hero Chris Sutton questions competence of SFA referees in VAR debate

By Euan Davidson

October 15, 2021

Former Celtic goal-scorer and Premier League winner Chris Sutton has blasted the standard of refereeing in Scotland, amid a debate over VAR.

Positive talks over implementing Video Assistant Refereeing in Scotland have dominated conversations this month [Daily Record]. Former Premier League referee Howard Webb was involved in chats between the SFA and SPFL over its implementation.

It’s something Celtic are quite used to, having played plenty of Europa League football since UEFA introduced VAR. However, Chris Sutton has poured scorn over the idea.

Not because he’s against technology in the game. Instead, he questions the wisdom of those entrusted to use it. He told the Daily Record:

“My big concern would be the people in charge of the VAR. The standard of officials is so poor in Scotland, who will be the ones that can be relied on to get the big calls right when sitting in a van or studio?

“But it’s all down to competence. We’ve already seen numerous questionable decisions this season and it shouldn’t even need VAR to have got those ones right. It could lead to even more problems. We all know what Scottish football is like. There would be conspiracy theories about who is making the big calls.

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67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

“I think there has to be a drastic raising of the standards of officiating in Scotland first. You can’t just give them the cop out of being able to go to the video – as they’d be doing it every five minutes.

“You look at the current system in Scotland with the compliance department. They have people who can spend a week looking at incidents – and they STILL get it wrong.”

Celtic hero Chris Sutton raises valid concerns, but VAR looks set for Scotland

The reality is, we can’t afford to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to things like VAR.

Given that we don’t have professional refereeing in Scotland, that might’ve been the first decision to make. However, that hasn’t happened quite yet, for whatever reason.

People will call these comments sour grapes from Chris Sutton. The ex-Celtic striker has long complained about refereeing, favouritism, double standards and professionalism in Scotland. His post-match interview against Dunfermline in 2003 remains the stuff of legend [Sun].

Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Truthfully though, show of hands if you completely trust the SFA referees to implement VAR to the letter?

It might help somewhat, and it’s definitely something Scottish football needs to be considering in order to keep up with pretty much everyone else in the world.

However, you get a sense Sutton might be right here. It only helps so much. The standards of refereeing in Scotland leave much to be desired, and ultimately many big decisions will still come down to the judgement of individuals.

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