Celtic will finally lose their VAR virginity in February when the Europa League returns for the round of 32.
The controversial new technology will be brought into the tournament for a two-legged tie for the first time this season, after being tested in last year’s final.
A brief UEFA update from September confirmed the news saying: “The UEFA Executive Committee decided to implement VAR from the knockout stage of the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League.” That means that both legs of our last 32 clash will use the system – starting with the first encounter on February 20th.
VAR would add even more drama to Celtic run
The fixtures will be the first time Celtic have ever come into contact with VAR in a competitive sense. We were part of a pilot system in a pre-season friendly against St. Gallen earlier this season, as Jozo Simunovic saw red for a daft challenge.
We also came agonisingly close to using VAR in the Champions League. Europe’s premier competition uses the technology from the playoff round onwards – meaning that we were just one victory against Cluj away from seeing it at Paradise.
But that wait will come to an end in February as we get set for a tie in which we’ll be seeded. VAR will add another interesting element to a hotly anticipated couple of fixtures.
There is a different feeling about the knockout rounds of the Europa League this year. The way we have come through our group, and the fact we will be seeded for the draw, has given many fans hope that our post-Christmas run will be a little more prolonged than in past years.
And if VAR adds a little bit more drama along the way that isn’t always a bad thing is it?