Celtic so far have not had to navigate the positives and negatives of VAR in a competitive setting but all that will change in 2020.
Not only will Neil Lennon’s men play in the knockout stages of the Europa League, where the system will be in use, but a prominent former Scottish referee has called on it being introduced to Scotland this season.
Craig Thomson has handled many a big occasion in Scottish football and was a Grade One referee until his retirement earlier this year.
Now he thinks VAR needs to be introduced to Scotland as a matter of urgency – starting with this season’s Scottish Cup.
As quoted by The Sunday Post (10/11 print edition, Post Match supplement page 12), he said: “We are too late to get it in time for the Old Firm derby in next month’s League Cup Final – as tempting as that would be – but I think this season’s Scottish Cup would be the ideal competition to trial it in.
“I am not speaking about the first couple of rounds, but maybe once we are into the final 32. You hear talk that it would be too expensive to install, but I am sure funding could be found to introduce it on an experimental basis.”
Thomson explains that he thinks it will make Scottish football a better product and that ignoring the technology will eventually mark out the nation as a real footballing minnow, on a par with Malta.
What would it mean for Celtic?
The only brush the Hoops have had with VAR so far came in a pre-season friendly, when a high Jozo Simunovic challenge was caught by officials against St Gallen, as Swiss football trialled the technology. The defender was sent off.
Lennon has appeared in favour of its use this season, telling reporters in September about his frustration it wasn’t part of our Europa League group stage campaign (The Daily Record).
There’s been controversy about the way it’s been used in England and no doubt there would be a major period of adjustment in Scottish football too. Not only is it expensive but it’s a logistical challenge too.
It would certainly change the nature, and potential destination, of the Scottish Cup this season if it was used, for better or worse.
Ultimately though it looks to be a direction that football is intent on taking and we shouldn’t be left behind.
Scottish refereeing is far from perfect and any system that eventually allows officials to get big calls right more often than not gets a thumbs up from me.