Tuesday, May 28, 2024

SFA wants to ease ‘unsustainable pressure’ on officials as refs chief steps down

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 18 Mar 2024

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Scottish FA chief Ian Maxwell said authorities must seek to alleviate “the unsustainable pressure on match officials and VAR operators” as it was announced Crawford Allan will step down as head of referee operations at the end of the season.

Allan, a former category one official, took up the post in January 2020 and played a key role as video technology was introduced into Scottish football in 2022.

VAR controversies have become almost a weekly occurrence this season and a mid-season review conducted by an independent panel highlighted 16 mistakes in the cinch Premiership during the first two rounds of fixtures.

The game’s ruling body says Allan’s departure to pursue new opportunities “will effect a review of the existing role and remit to reflect the demands placed on it by the introduction and optimisation of VAR, with a planned review of the operational priorities of the department based on the insights to date from VAR implementation.”

SFA chief executive Maxwell said: “Firstly, I would like to thank Crawford for his four years as head of referee operations and especially his efforts in implementing VAR within Scottish football and guiding refereeing through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In many ways, overseeing the introduction of VAR has been a thankless task.

“Yet it has been essential for Scottish football to remain at the forefront of on-field technology and in-step with the leading domestic competitions across Europe, as well as ensuring our match officials and VAR operators can continue to operate at FIFA and UEFA level.

“Crawford has been integral to that process – from feasibility, to training, to roll-out – for much of his tenure and we are grateful that he will remain in place and provide continuity until the end of the season.

“Whilst there is a recognition that, globally, the VAR processes need to improve, this is a challenge for all key stakeholders within Scottish football to work through in the context of our own domestic competition.

“This includes all key external stakeholders having a better understanding of the Laws of the Game, the lines of intervention for VAR, and the adopted guidance within Scottish football, especially in subjective areas such as the handball law.

“We must work together to alleviate the unsustainable pressure on match officials and VAR operators, to remove the convenient blame culture attached to subjective or unpopular decisions, and to ensure more focus is placed on the entertainers rather than the on-field facilitators.

“We will continue conversations and improvements with all stakeholders with this as a non-negotiable and unifying premise as we seek to improve the experience for all.”

The recruitment process will begin immediately to ensure an experienced replacement will be in place for the new season.

Allan, 56, said: “It has been an honour to lead referee operations in Scotland especially during such an historic period of change.

“Taking the role, after almost 30 years as a match official including 15 years in the top flight, coincided not only with two years affected by the Covid pandemic, but also the inception and then introduction of VAR in Scottish football.

“While there are refinements and improvements to be made to VAR, as there are in leagues across the world, it has taken a monumental effort from my team at the Scottish FA and the match officials to have it embedded in the Premiership and cup matches at Hampden Park.

“VAR is only one aspect of the role, albeit one that can overshadow the positive strides we have taken forward. I am grateful to my team for their support. I would also like to thank the wider team in referee operations for their professionalism, often seven days a week, and the referee committee for their support and counsel.

“Above all, I would like to thank the match officials at all levels for their unwavering commitment to our national game.”

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