The controversy that has surrounded the failure of the match officials to award a goal for Hibernian in the early stages of last month’s Edinburgh derby, when Oli Shaw’s shot came down off the bar and bounce fully over the line has reignited the debate on Scottish Football about goal line technology. This coupled by the Hibs management being ‘incandescent with rage’ about the decision has led to much discussion about it. There has always been decisions that have been incorrect throughout the time I have been watching football. While it was the incorrect decision, I’d rather that a goal wasn’t awarded when scored, rather than a referee / assistant linesman guess (and get it wrong, as has happened on occasion). I have seen goals awarded when the ball clearly hasn’t crossed the line.
Following the introduction in the English Premier League, it would seem prudent for it to be in the Scottish top flight. However, with the cost being £250,000 per team (£3million total), it has been said that it is highly unlikely as the governing bodies in Scotland cannot afford to do it. If it is not brought in, other suggestions have been put forward. The one that seems has the most momentum is for Video refs, similar to those in rugby, where decisions can be made quickly, when it is clear. While I fully understand the thinking behind this, I feel that it would open to interpretation! and would the use of video refs be in every top-flight game, or just the televised ones where the additional resources would be available.
Personally, I don’t advocate the use of video refs. Having been involved in rugby for many a year and a qualified ref, the TMO has very specific parameters in what they can look at. Even then some of the decisions have been made are debatable. If this was to be implemented in Scottish Football (apart from needing UEFA / FIFA approval), what would the parameters be? If it was whether the ball crossed the line, what would be the outcome if as the video ref was checking it, serious foul play / professional foul took place! Would this be overlooked as the goal should be given? Also in the build up to Shaw’s goal, there has been much debate whether he was offside! Should that be looked at? In rugby and cricket, they are allowed to check for a forward pass, offside (Rugby) and a no-ball (cricket) before a decision is given.
They say that the decision would be made quickly, but if the ball has not gone out of play, the game will not have stopped. In February 2012, when Hearts entertained Celtic, Hearts thought they had scored (video evidence shows that they had), it was not awarded and Celtic broke away and scored at the other end. What would have happened if the video ref then had time to check and awarded the goal to Hearts and then had to chop of the goal awarded to Celtic.
While not perfect, if the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), are unable or unwilling to invest in goal line technology, everybody is going to have to put up with errors taking place. As I said earlier, as long as a goal is not awarded when the ball doesn’t cross the line (officials making best guess assumptions), I am willing to put up with it until the Scottish authorities are willing to foot the bill.