Rangers are set to host Braga in Glasgow for the first time in tonight’s Europa League last-32 match, but it’s also going to be a footballing debut for VAR at Ibrox.
Rangers appealed for the introduction of VAR in the wake of the Betfred Cup final defeat to Celtic [Rangers] earlier in the season, and this will be the club’s first taste of the controversial refereeing assistant.
But regardless of how it is implemented tonight, is this going to be a taste of things to come not just in Europe, but domestically for the Gers?
The Video Assistant Referee has not always had the best press in these parts, probably because of the plethora of controversies surrounding VAR down south.
Expensively implemented and seemingly drawing criticism week-on-week in the Premier League, it’s far too easy to get drawn into the English drama surrounding the technology.
But across Europe, we’re seeing VAR implemented sensibly – including in Braga’s home country of Portugal – and there’s a growing clamour for it to be fast-tracked to Scotland.
Steven Gerrard spoke about the technology as he looked ahead to the tie.
“The players are well aware of how to act and what to do in certain situations,” he said [Rangers].
“It will be slightly different to what we’re used to so everyone will have to be ready for that experience.
“I think the UEFA version is slightly different from what they’ve been using down south.
“The good thing from our point of view is that they’re going to keep trying to improve it and make it better.
“There is large parts of VAR that have been really accurate and made the game a lot more fair. I think what everyone wants is to make it more of a better spectacle for supporters.
“I’m all for it. If it improves the game and makes it more fair then you get the real important decisions that make the game a lot fairer.
“I’m not all for the stop start and ruining the rhythm of a game because I think that’s why we all love it.”
With a host of refereeing decisions going wrong across Scottish football all season, and match-defining ones hurting Rangers’ domestic hopes, fans will hope this glimpse gives them a taste of things to come.
Whilst there’s still plenty to be worked out about the controversial system, if the Scottish Football Association can do something to help referees then there’s a growing feeling that they should.
Could the use of VAR at Rangers’ home ground tonight be a sign of things to come in the coming seasons?