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VAR to be used in Scottish Premiership next season after clubs back plans

Sweden v Ukraine – UEFA Euro 2020 – Round of 16 – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

VAR technology will be introduced in Scotland’s top flight next season after plans were almost unanimously backed by clubs.

The video technology will be installed in every cinch Premiership ground over the coming months and is expected to be available to assist referees after the World Cup in December.

Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster told Sky Sports: “It’s been a long process, that’s for sure. We have been working with our colleagues at the Scottish FA and clubs for some while.

“We chose not be early adopters of VAR technology, allowing some of the early problems with that technology to be ironed out.

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“But we think now is the time to bring VAR into the cinch Premiership and we are very pleased that 41 out of 42 clubs agreed with that, and we will be implementing it at some point next season, post-World Cup.”

The estimated £1.2million annual cost of the system will be solely met by the 12 Premiership clubs, with each paying a proportion of their end-of-season prize money. The champions will pay about £195,000 per season, with the bottom club chipping in with about £67,000.

The league is trying to drive down the installation costs of more than £1million and welcomed a new grant from the Scottish Football Association.

Doncaster added: “I believe this was the right decision and that VAR will help referees to ensure tight decisions are more often the right ones and will support a higher standard and more consistent level of decision-making.

Neil Doncaster

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster (Jeff Holmes/PA)

“Scottish referees are fully on board with this innovation and have been overwhelmingly supportive about the introduction of VAR during our consultation process with our partners at the Scottish FA.”

Doncaster is confident that disruptions to games will be kept to a minimum.

“The Scottish game is all about passion, drama, excitement – we have certainly seen that in recent weeks – and we hope very much that will continue,” he said.

“It’s really important that, when VAR does come in, it doesn’t diminish that passion and excitement in stadia.”

David McGeachie

David McGeachie backed the decision (Jeff Holmes/PA)

The decision was welcomed by Scotland’s referees.

David McGeachie, chair of the Scottish Senior Football Referees’ Association, said: “As shown during this season’s UEFA club competitions and last summer’s European Championships, VAR is now a proven tool that significantly aids decision making by reducing clear and obvious errors.

“In preparation for its potential implementation, our members and the Scottish FA have already committed significant time and resource to undertaking the first stages of the necessary VAR training.

“All top-flight officials will continue with this throughout the summer to ensure will be fully accredited in line with FIFA’s extensive training programme ahead of next season.

“We thank the SPFL member clubs for their investment in VAR and believe that its adoption will enhance the Scottish game in line with the philosophy of ‘minimum interference, maximum benefit’.”

Ian Maxwell

Ian Maxwell and the SFA were in firm favour of the plans (Andrew Milligan/PA)

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell added: “Throughout the consultation process we were encouraged that the principle of VAR was supported by clubs, players, coaches and match officials.

“The benefits of VAR are clear and with the commitment of the Scottish FA, SPFL and now the approval of the league’s 42 member clubs, we can now look forward to continuing the implementation process with a view to VAR being a key part of Scottish football’s future.”

The SPFL will use the Hawkeye Innovations System, which is used in the English Premier League among other leagues.

The system will also be in use for next season’s Premier Sports Cup semi-finals and final in January and February 2023, with “further discussions planned regarding its use during earlier rounds in future seasons”.

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