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Allan to step down as Scottish FA head of referee operations

Crawford Allan will step down as the Scottish FA’s head of refereeing at the end of the season.

The 56-year-old was appointed head of referee operations at the SFA four years ago when he replaced John Fleming and oversaw the introduction of VAR.

He intends to pursue new opportunities, while the governing body will review the role before appointing a replacement, and could make changes to the remit to reflect the changes brought by VAR and the different demands on the job.

His departure comes at a time when referees have come under increased criticism about the use of VAR in the Scottish Premiership.

Allan, a former category one official, said he had been proud to oversee refereeing during a time of change and thanked those he had worked with in his time in charge.

“It has been an honour to lead referee operations in Scotland especially during such a historic period of change,” he said.

“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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Scottish FA head of refereeing Crawford Allan insists VAR is working despite an increase in the number of errors identified by the VAR independent review panel.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell added: “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.

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Kris Boyd and James McFadden were left bemused after VAR did not check for handball during St Mirren’s claim for a penalty at Ross County.

“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.”

Scottish Premiership and SWPL on Sky Sports

DUNDEE, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 05: A close-up of the new SPFL ball before a cinch Premiership match between Dundee and Motherwell at Dens Park, on August 05, 2023, in Dundee, Scotland. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

Sky Sports – This season up to 48 cinch Premiership games will be available across Sky Sports’ flagship channels, including Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event, plus at least five SWPL matches. From 2024/25, up to 60 cinch Premiership will be live on Sky Sports, in addition to the SWPL.

Sky Sports News – Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Scottish football fans can enjoy Sky Sports News’ (channel 409) rolling editorial coverage of the cinch Premiership and SWPL throughout the season.

Sky Sports Digital – Follow all the latest from Scottish football across and app, including exclusive features and interviews, plus dedicated live blog coverage, in-game clips from matches live on Sky Sports and free highlights.

Sky Sports Social – Alongside coverage and visibility for the league across all Sky Sports’ main social media channels, the bespoke X page @ScotlandSky (formerly known as Twitter) will continue to be the home of all Scottish football content on Sky Sports.

Highlights show – Tune in for a dedicated round-up from the cinch Premiership every week on Sky Sports Football.

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