St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin is suggesting two new changes within Scottish football as his Buddies side stand on the brink of a historic top six finish.
Goodwin takes his team to Rangers on Saturday in what is a huge match for both. Rangers could win their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade should they win and Celtic drop points to Dundee United while Saints are in position to clinch a top six spot for the first time in their history.
Rangers have lost to one team in all competitions this season, St Mirren in the League Cup, and Goodwin is proud of that: “We’re the only team in Europe who has been able to beat Rangers this season. We’re very proud of that Betfred Cup result and it would make it even more special if we can go to Ibrox and get a win in the league.
“They’ve won every league game they’ve played at Ibrox this season so no-one has to tell us how difficult it will be. But we won’t be going there to sit on our own 18-yard line. We’re within touching distance of the top six now so we’re going there to have a go.”
While on the brink of something special, Goodwin still wants to see things change in Scottish football. Referees are again the subject of scrutiny after Buddies striker Collin Quaner won a penalty after soft contact with Ross County’s Leo Hjelde during last weekend’s 1-0 St Mirren win.
Then midweek, Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos was booked for diving in the box against Livingston, when replays showed he was clipped in the box by Livi goalkeeper Max Stryjek. A stripped-back version of VAR is the way forward for Goodwin.
He explained: “I think there has been just over 60 penalties awarded this season in the league and I would say about half of them fall into the soft category, At least half. I think we need to help the referees as best we can because it’s a really difficult job. And it’s getting harder every year because the pace of the game is getting quicker all the time.
“I know they have VAR in the Premier League and people say it costs too much money for us to even consider. But I can assure you that the Rangers video analyst will have sent a clip of the penalty incident last night to the Rangers bench within half a minute. Those guys will have seen straight away that it was a penalty.
“Maybe I’m talking nonsense and we need FIFA to allow us to use our own system here in Scotland – but I don’t see why we can’t. We could have a TV monitor at the side of the pitch next to the dugout and for penalty-box incidents, it would be very easy to stop the game, have the referee run over and give the correct decision.
“Finances will always dictate and we don’t have the resources that the Premier League, LaLiga and the Bundesliga have. But I’m not talking about the full bells-and-whistles VAR with the yellow and blue lines for offside.
“I’m just talking about penalty incidents because there are far too many being awarded this year that just quite frankly aren’t penalties. These are key decisions which could mean the difference between making top six or bottom six or getting relegated and staying up.”
Another change Goodwin is proposing is summer football. It’s something that the Saints boss has championed in the past but he believes in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, summer action should be considered in order to play in periods of reduced virus prevalence.
Goodwin said: “I know we’ve had that debate previously on numerous occasions, but for me it just makes sense. Let’s stop playing football in the winter, when there’s a much higher risk of this kind of flu, and lets try and play the game in the better weather.
“A lot of countries who do summer football have had better attendances. I know we like the idea of playing over Christmas and new year but that’s when sickness bugs are at their highest. So maybe that’s the conversation we should be having this season or the season after.
“I think the pandemic should reinvigorate the debate. It makes sense that we play football during a time when there is less chance of infection. For me it would be a sensible approach.”
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