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Sir Kenny Dalglish: We can’t afford VAR, but we can’t afford not to help referees

© Ian Hodgson/ANL/ShutterstockSir Kenny Dalglish
Sir Kenny Dalglish

Referees were in the spotlight on both sides of the border last weekend.

The authorities need to continue to find ways to help them even more.

In England, VAR is now very much part of the fabric of the game, and it was good to see Jon Moss go to the pitchside monitor during Crystal Palace’s meeting with Southampton to review a straight red card he had given to Kyle Walker-Peters.

Moss had been told by his Stockley Park colleagues that he might want to take a second look at the incident, just to be sure.

He went pitchside and, after review, decided to downgrade the Saints man’s punishment to a yellow card for his tackle on Tyrick Mitchell.

It was great to see Moss taking matters into his own hands, and making the decision himself, rather than it being made at Stockley Park.

He should be applauded for over-ruling his own decision.

In Scotland, many of the referees are on record as saying they would love to have VAR in the SPFL.

Of course, finances make it very difficult – maybe even impossible – for that to happen.

Last Saturday, there were talking points aplenty, such as Dundee United defender Ryan Edwards’ tackle on Alfredo Morelos that led to the Rangers striker being stretchered off, and the penalty St Mirren were denied when Ryan Porteous of Hibs was clearly guilty of handball.

The Edwards/Morelos incident was reviewed by the SFA compliance officer, and it was decided no further action was necessary, though others took the opposite view.

So it might be worth exploring the possibility of having a pitchside monitor at Premiership games.

Had there been one last Saturday, Kevin Clancy could have reviewed the Edwards tackle immediately, and the chance to see it again may have been beneficial.

The same for Willie Collum with the penalty claim in Paisley.

I know we don’t have multiple television cameras at every game to give a view from different angles, but all top-flight games are covered for television, so there is footage available that could be helpful.

All everyone wants is for the correct decision to be reached every time.

That won’t always be possible, but the authorities should do what they can to help.

A pitchside monitor is a baby-step for Scottish football, but it would mean the game was heading in the right direction.

In England, I’d like to see the possibility of having ex-players sitting alongside the referees at Stockley Park.

There are times I listen to former whistlers give their view on an incident, and their interpretation is totally different from mine.

Sometimes I’m simply left baffled by their explanations.

If they had a former player to offer guidance and opinion, it might also be helpful in reaching the correct decision.

For example, they would know if a player really went with the intent to “take a player out”, or if a tackle was genuinely mistimed. They would also know when a player had tried to deceive the match official, or if they just lost their balance.

Giving an insight from having played the game at a high level – something most referees have not done – would be worthwhile.

I’m not saying the former player would be right all the time, but it might give some invaluable assistance to the match officials.

As I’ve said all along, we are not bringing in new things to try to embarrass the referee out on the park.

We want to upgrade as much as we can to help them achieve the right decision.

We want our officials to be brave and embrace things. It’s about applying common sense and working together.

On that note, there didn’t appear to be too much unity last weekend between St Mirren and the SPFL over their goalkeeping situation.

With their three goalkeepers ruled out due to Covid-19, the Buddies were staring at the possibility of having to play Sam Foley – an outfield player – in goal against Hibs.

Their goalkeeping coach, Jamie Langfield – who’ll be 41 in December – was also mentioned as a possibility.

It was a horrible situation for Jim Goodwin and his club to be in, and I could totally see where they were coming from when they asked for the game to be postponed.

We are in unprecedented times, and every incident needs to be looked at on an individual basis.

I don’t think there can be a blanket course of action every time.

A solution was found when Hearts loaned Bobby Zlamal to St Mirren.

But I don’t think they should have been left in that position when they were preparing to play, having been told an outfield player would need to go between the sticks.

That can’t be right.

That incident was the latest bit of controversy Scottish football has faced, and we are only eight weeks into the season.

There will be many more bumps in the road and difficult decisions to be made. It will be difficult to keep everyone happy, all of the time.

But I think my suggestion might help.