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Sir Kenny Dalglish: Aberdeen v Rangers was the perfect example of why we need VAR

© Craig Williamson / SNS GroupRyan Kent gets his marching orders from referee Kevin Clancy at Pittodrie last Tuesday night
Ryan Kent gets his marching orders from referee Kevin Clancy at Pittodrie last Tuesday night

It was quite some game at Pittodrie last Tuesday night.

And the frantic 90 minutes underlined more than ever just how much Scottish football needs to introduce VAR.

As Aberdeen and Rangers went at it hammer and tongs, referee Kevin Clancy was put under the microscope.

For me, he made a few wrong calls.

I don’t feel that Ryan Kent deserved to be red-carded. Indeed, I really don’t think he merited either of his two bookings.

Even before that, there had been controversy.

With around 20 minutes gone, Allan McGregor caught Ryan Hedges at the edge of the box. Contact was clearly made, and it looked like a penalty-kick to me.

Of course, the old question of whether or not there was clear intent from the Rangers keeper to trip the Aberdeen player is up for debate. And only Allan will know if it was deliberate, or if the collision was accidental.

But, to most observers, a penalty should have been awarded, and I believe that would have been the decision VAR would have made.

The Dons’ mood of injustice wasn’t helped by the fact Rangers then went straight up the park and scored.

In the second half, Lewis Ferguson equalised with a penalty – but only after the wind had caused the ball to roll just off the penalty spot.

By the letter of the law, the kick should have been retaken, and I’m sure VAR would have gone down that route.

© SNS Group
Lewis Ferguson scores for Aberdeen from the penalty spot (Pic: Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Having said all that, I think it would be unfair to lambast Kevin Clancy for every contentious decision he made.

Rangers have since complained to the Scottish FA about how the ref handled the game, and it remains to be seen what, if any, difference that will make.

However, the events throughout the game showed that our match officials need help, and that we must introduce VAR.

But until the SFA and SPFL get the clubs around the table for a vote on it, the game is stuck.

Financial funding has to be found to put VAR in place – but it’s now an absolute necessity.

Otherwise, we will be having these debates week after week.

It leaves referees wide open to be criticised and ridiculed, and that is totally unfair on them.

Listen, VAR will not solve every issue, because many decisions will still be down to opinion rather than be factual.

But, as I have said many times in this column, we must do what we can to help the referees make the right calls.

Remember, our match officials are desperate for it to be introduced. That tells us all we need to know.

If Kevin Clancy had been allowed to look at the Sky pitchside monitor last Tuesday night, what a help that would have been.

But it would be unfair to only limit VAR to the big games shown live on the box, when there are multiple cameras and various angles to look at.

© SNS Group
Referee Kevin Clancy (Pic: Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Just 24 hours earlier, unless you had subscribed to club TV, you would not have been able to watch Hibs’ visit to Celtic Park from the comfort of your living room.

Yet when terrestrial TV was able to show the match highlights, Willie Collum’s decision to give Celtic a penalty for hand-ball was debated long and hard.

Still, Ange Postecoglou’s men were worthy winners – and what an impression Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda made on debut.

Both really looked the part, and already appear significant additions to the Celtic squad.

Hot on the heels of their fellow countryman, Kyogo Furuhashi, big Ange really has pulled out another two crackers here.

The gap at the top of the table now has just four points separating the Old Firm, and it really is heating up.

There is no doubt we have a title race that is going to the wire.

Of course, there is still the chance that the top two’s rescheduled meeting at Celtic Park on February 2 could be postponed again due to international call-ups.

As I said last week, any manager who loses at least three of his players has the right to ask the SPFL to delay the game and find another date.

I stand by that, whether it’s Giovanni van Bronckhorst or Ange who calls for it. It might be both of them wanting it.

It means that this week’s Premiership card will have all eyes on it, as there is little room for error.

Last midweek didn’t disappoint, and top-flight football in Scotland is well and truly back with a bang.