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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: HAMPDEN DEBUT FOR VAR, HEARTS IN ‘TORTUOUS’ STRUGGLE FOR BOSS, HOLT’S LIVI CHALLENGE

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VAR will be used in Scotland for the first time in the Euro 2020 Nations League play-off against Israel at Hampden on March 26.

It will also be the debut encounter for Steve Clarke’s international side to play in a game with video assistant referees.

The crucial semi-final game will see the winners go on to play away against the victors of the Norway and Serbia tie for a place at the Euro 2020 Finals.

Mexico had wanted to use trial VAR in their friendly with the Scots two summers ago, but was not given permission from FIFA to use it on that occasion.

VAR has been given the green light for all Nations League final games by UEFA chiefs. It has been adopted in the top leagues and the Champions League, but has attracted controversy, especially in the English top flight.

Scottish football has still to adopt VAR because of financial costs.

HEARTS have hit a snag in their efforts to appoint Daniel Stendel as their successor to the sacked Craig Levein with his former club Barnsley demanding compensation.

The Edinburgh club’s owner, Ann Budge, has confessed it had become a ‘tortuous’ process trying to bring the German coach to Tynecastle.

Stendel, 45, has verbally agreed terms to succeed Levein, who was dismissed on October 31. However, his ex-club are claiming recompense, despite sacking him in October.

A severance package was never agreed between the coach and the English club, meaning he technically remains contracted to the Championship club, albeit on “gardening leave”.

In a report in the Edinburgh Evening News, Budge said: “I can’t add anything to what has already been in the media.

“It’s just a tortuous process, to be frank. I am trying to ensure all of the various contractual sides are tied up. This is partly due to the situation when he left Barnsley.

“It’s not so much about personal terms. It’s that we need to make sure we are doing things properly.”

Stendel led the Yorkshire club to promotion to the Championship last season, but was fired following a 10-game winless run.

LIVINGSTON boss Gary Holt has called on his players to welcome the challenge of taking on Hearts at Tynecastle tonight.

The Lothian gaffer has seen his side win just one of their last 12 fixtures, but they still sit above the struggling Edinburgh outfit.

Holt, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “They’re all tough games for us. People say particular games are tough, but I love the fact that they all are.

“We know where we’re at and the size of club that we are. We want to keep progressing and building, but we can’t go willy-nilly and end up going bust because that’s suicidal.

“Every game at this level is brilliant for us. We embrace it as a tough challenge, but we have absolutely no fear going into games because we want to win.”

He added: “It’s Tynecastle against Hearts, it’s a big crowd on a great pitch. Who wouldn’t want to play in big games like that? It’s like a kid in a candy shop so go out and enjoy it.

“Go and run about and play football with a smile on your face and try your best.

“I’ve always said the only guarantee they can give me is to work hard.”

 

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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