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Jim Goodwin wants VAR for penalty-box decisions in the Scottish Premiership

St Mirren v Celtic – Scottish Premiership – Simple Digital Arena
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin has called for Scottish football to consider a stripped-down version of VAR and put an end to “soft” spot-kicks in the Premiership.

There have been 63 penalties awarded in the top flight this term – but Goodwin believes at least half were questionable.

Ironically, Goodwin – who recently pointed the finger at the culprits he claims are Scotland’s main diving offenders – made his latest comments after seeing Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos booked for going down in the box against Livingston.

TV replays clearly showed the Colombian had been tripped by Livingston keeper Max Stryjek and Goodwin believes the whole drama, which included Gers boss Steven Gerrard being sent off for a four-letter outburst at referee John Beaton, could have been avoided if the officials had access to pitch-side monitors.

The Irishman understands Scottish clubs will struggle to afford the full VAR system used in England – but he sees no reason why a slimmed-down version focusing only on penalty-box fouls cannot be implemented north of the border.

“I think there has been just over 60 penalties awarded this season in the league and I would say about half of them fall into the soft category,” said the Saints boss. “At least half.

“I think we need to help the referees as best we can because it’s a really difficult job. And it’s getting harder every year because the pace of the game is getting quicker all the time.

“I know they have VAR in the Premier League and people say it costs too much money for us to even consider.

“But I can assure you that the Rangers video analyst will have sent a clip of the penalty incident last night to the Rangers bench within half a minute. Those guys will have seen straight away that it was a penalty.

“Maybe I’m talking nonsense and we need FIFA to allow us to use our own system here in Scotland – but I don’t see why we can’t.

“We could have a TV monitor at the side of the pitch next to the dugout and for penalty-box incidents, it would be very easy to stop the game, have the referee run over and give the correct decision.

“Finances will always dictate and we don’t have the resources that the Premier League, LaLiga and the Bundesliga have.

“But I’m not talking about the full bells-and-whistles VAR with the yellow and blue lines for offside. I’m just talking about penalty incidents because there are far too many being awarded this year that just quite frankly aren’t penalties.

“These are key decisions which could mean the difference between making top six or bottom six or getting relegated and staying up.”

Gerrard’s champions-elect will be hoping to move within a point of the title when Goodwin’s men head to Ibrox on Saturday – but the Paisley men are also just one win shy of confirming their place in the top six.

And the Saints boss said: “We’re the only team in Europe who has been able to beat Rangers this season. We’re very proud of that Betfred Cup result and it would make it even more special if we can go to Ibrox and get a win in the league.

“They’ve won every league game they’ve played at Ibrox this season so no-one has to tell us how difficult it will be.

“But we won’t be going there to sit on our own 18-yard line. We’re within touching distance of the top six now so we’re going there to have a go.”