Why we shouldn’t expect goal-line technology in Scotland any time soon

By Lewis McParlane

Oli Shaw’s disallowed goal in the Edinburgh Derby last night has raised arguments for goal-line technology to be implemented in the Scottish top flight but it isn’t just stubbornness holding back these changes – it’s money.

In a league where the richest club’s annual player wage is 17 times larger than the smallest, and many teams still report massive annual losses, money is always going to be a stumbling block for progress in the Scottish game.

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When the English Premier League installed their Hawk-Eye system in 2013 it cost each club £265,000 just to set it up and have it approved by FIFA. That price excluded the extra costs to use it on match days plus any repairs and updates.

If similar actions were taken by the SPFL then clubs like Kilmarnock would have to spend over 1/16 of their yearly turnover just to have the technology installed at Rugby Park.

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This price tag wouldn’t be such a problem for the larger clubs in the league like Celtic, with a £90.6 million turnover, and Rangers, with a £29.2 million turnover, but of course all 12 clubs would have to be consulted before making such drastic changes.

The financial gap in clubs has also been an issue in much larger leagues with greater attendances and turnovers.

Major League Soccer’s commissioner Don Garber said in 2013 upon hearing of the Premier League’s decision to use goal-line technology: “[The cost] had us take a step back and pause and try to figure out: Is the value of having goal-line technology worth investing millions and millions and millions of dollars for the handful of moments where it’s relevant?”

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Even the Bundesliga, one of the top five European leagues that has the highest average attendance in the world, had two clubs vote against the technology due to financial weakness.

“The costs are so exorbitant that this is not sustainable,” said then-CEO of 1. FC Köln Jörg Schmadtke.

Refereeing mistakes are always going to be a burden on football and therefore support must be given to minimise these errors.

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But other forms exist such as ‘fifth’ and ‘sixth’ officials, who stand near the goal-line to give advice on goalmouth incidents, or a ‘camera official’ who could see the angles from the television cameras and then advise the on-pitch official with decisions.

The latter of these options would require a rugby-esque timeout rule but this would help referees get a better hold on the game, as many can feel pressured to make a decision rapidly without wasting too much time. With a stop clock this wouldn’t be a problem.

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Other parts of Scottish football require money right now, which will have a much more positive effect on the game in the long term such as youth development and mentoring our wonderkids better so that they can step into first teams and take their club and nation forward.

Now, doesn’t that sound better than some sensors that will save a team four points a season at most? No one is arguing that goal-line technology doesn’t progress football but sometimes progress is simply too expensive.

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