The introduction of VAR to the world of football has been met with criticism by a large portion of fans. It was hoped that technology would remove debate and costly mistakes by officials from the game. Grey areas would be eradicated, and the officials would be able to make their decisions based solely on the facts at hand.
However, it has not been the case in the Premier League and elsewhere across the leading European leagues along with international football. Instead of clearing up issues, the technology has created more divisive problems that seemingly cannot be solved by the lawmakers of football. Decisions regarding offside calls have been controversial due to the perceived lack of technology available to determine whether a player is on or offside.
In the hope of eradicating clear and obvious errors, the lawmakers of football have opened up Pandora’s box. Still, the system remains in place and now the Scottish Premiership will join the ranks of leagues using VAR technology after a vote passed from all 42 clubs in the country. The Scottish Premiership clubs will pay £1.2 million per season for the technology to be in position, which could have huge business consequences for SPL teams across the country as it has elsewhere in Europe.
The system deployed in Scotland will mirror those seen elsewhere, with five specialist cameras set up on the halfway line, each 18-yard box, and both goal lines. These cameras are calibrated by Hawkeye technology to ensure that every inch of the pitch is visible in order to give the officials the best angle of any incident that could occur whether it be an offside call or foul play.
One of the primary issues regarding VAR has been the accuracy of offside decisions, given that lines have been drawn on the 2D image presented on the VAR official’s screen. There has been a huge debate about whether these images portray an accurate picture of the position of attacker and defender given the slight margins involved. There have been several occasions where the incident has been too close to call.
It is not only offside decisions that have been marginal as Liverpool found out to their benefit against Chelsea at the start of the 2021/22 season when Reece James was sent off for a controversial handball and Mohamed Salah dispatched the resulting penalty. Chelsea were winning 1-0 at the time and held out for a point in the second half. Although Liverpool would undoubtedly be disappointed at a draw, that one point gained could be the difference between winning and losing the Premier League title.
Now that the Scottish Premiership has joined the VAR ranks, their titles and relegation could hang on the fate of a VAR decision. Imagine the prospect of a battle for the crown between Rangers and Celtic hinging on a narrow offside call.
It will not only affect matters on the field but issues such as betting odds off the field where odds may be affected by the results of a VAR call on the field. Betting on football is one of the most popular wagering activities in the world, and it is not only in the country where the match is being played where the potential betting ramifications will be felt. There are bettors that track the odds and bet on English and Scottish football matches in far reaches of the world, notably the Asian wagering market. For example, the best online betting sites in Bangladesh will still provide great value on their football betting odds, but wagering with VAR does carry considerations, especially when betting in play.
This is commonplace for the top betting sites in countries as diverse as India and England too, where one moment you may be celebrating a goal and the next cursing your luck. The margins are slim in VAR calls, therefore, both fans and bettors will be hoping that the decision falls their way rather than the other side of the coin.
Red cards will also come into focus, with the Scottish Premiership notorious for its no-nonsense approach to tackling. With a greater focus on all aspects of the game, Scottish football could be about to change forever.