Scottish FA head of referee operations John Fleming admits that goal-line controversy will continue to torment Scottish football unless clubs agree to invest in new technology.
The debate on giving match officials extra assistance resurfaced on Wednesday night after Hibs striker Oli Shaw was controversially denied a ‘goal’ in the 0-0 stalemate with fierce rivals Hearts.
Television cameras showed that Shaw’s sixth minute strike had crossed the line, but both referee Steven McLean and linesman Sean Carr were unable to award the goal.
Irate Hibs head coach Neil Lennon branded the talking point a ‘disgrace’ and claimed the incident, which was beamed live by Sky Sports, made a ‘mockery of the game’.
In 2014, the cost of introducing goal-line devices was estimated to be as much as £300,000 per stadium and the Scottish FA and SPFL both said yesterday that the technology remains too expensive.
Fleming has sympathy for the officials and insists it is up to the clubs to decide whether to introduce equipment that can clear up any doubt.
He said: “The Scottish FA voted in favour of goal-line technology through IFAB (International Football Association Board), that’s not changed and I’m still in favour of introducing any kind of technology, whether it be Video Assistant Referees (VAR), which is on trial just now, or goal line technology, to determine something which was a fact in a game.
“When the ball is driven in there are three scenarios that can happen. Firstly, as the ball goes over the line the naked eye can see it because of the speed.
“The next step up is when the TV can see it and replay it, and the third scenario is that the ball has gone so fast that only technology can determine that.
“There are instances with the ball going over the line for the referee or assistant referee that it’s virtually impossible to see it. There are even situations that broadcasters can’t show it because it’s gone over at such a speed.
“The frustrating thing for referees is that something occurs and technology, being what it is, a lot of people know the outcome – the viewers would have known.
“When I saw the ball hit the bar and come down, I could not tell watching the game live at home but 30 seconds later they show the first replay and you can tell.
“It’s so difficult, at the end of the day it’s the member clubs that will make the decision to introduce it, not me. I’ve no say whatsoever.
“If they introduce it we’ll apply it, if they don’t we’ll keep applying what we’re applying just now.”
Fleming, however, appreciates why clubs have so far not shown any appetite to invest in the technology.
He added: “The cost of it when we were talking about it a way back in 2014 for the World Cup, they were saying it could potentially be between £250,000 to £300,000 per stadium.
“I don’t know what the cost would be now, whether it’s increase or decreased. It’s a lot of money to invest.
“We beat ourselves up but there’s loads of countries that don’t have it.
“It would certainly have determined that the ball was over the line on Wednesday.”