Former ref explains why VAR may not be smooth sailing for Celtic; criticises SPFL

By Dave Flanigan

July 30, 2022

Former SPFL referee Des Roache believes that the introduction of VAR in Scotland could hinder both Celtic and their direct rivals, Rangers.

It was confirmed in April that VAR will be introduced to Scottish Premiership midway through the season, with the starting date possibly coming as early as October.

Speaking on Get Involved Referee! The Podcast, Roche said: “I think the fact that Celtic and Rangers are predominantly attacking more, are in the opposition penalty area more, they potentially might not get as many decisions as they would before because we didn’t have that minute detail to go and inspect.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

“But at the end of the day the better teams win because they’ve got better players and they’re scoring more goals, not because referees give them more or less decisions, will they hindered by it? Quite possibly.”

Roche was also highly critical of the league’s decision to introduce VAR midway through the season.

“We’ve been speaking about this since the turn of the year,” he said.

“You tell me that the SPFL have sponsors in line, they’ve got teams that are going to be there, they know they need 12 grounds equipped and they have not got enough time between the 1st January to the end of July, start of August, to have these grounds and this equipment?

“We’ve seen them in Hampden in their Star Trek booth, doing their stuff. Why is it not ready? We’re stalling on it and to me it’s ridiculous.”

“The interpretation and application will change immensely and a Team A get a decision on Week 10 will be different from the decision they get in Week 11 and that can have huge bearings on teams staying in the league, managers losing their jobs.

“These will have huge implications on teams staying in the league, managers staying in a job and money coming into a club. Just do it right. It’s typical Scotland. If you’re going to do something, do it right. They’ve had all this time to get in the infrastructure in place, get it ready to go, and play.”

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

The introduction of VAR in Scottish football was always going to be divisive, and the decision to bring it in mid-season will only stoke the flames of the debate.

A crazy opening league game is sure to fuel particular discussion along too, with discussions about refereeing decisions already being scrutinised with the season not yet a day old.

The Scottish Premiership is rarely short on drama, and the one thing that we can be sure of with VAR is that this is unlikely to change any time soon.

In other news: Reported update on Celtic’s board intentions