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VAR, ticket sales and hotel problems, Raith Rovers step up preparations for Premiership play-off final

The Stark's Park side will host Ross County on Thursday before the return leg on Sunday.

Dylan Easton celebrates Raith Rovers' semi-final win over Partick Thistle.
Dylan Easton has signed a new two-year deal with Raith Rovers. Image: Craig Foy / SNS Group.

Raith Rovers will have something new to contend with in their Premiership play-off final against Ross County – the use of VAR.

The video assistant referee system will be in place for the two-legged promotion/relegation showdown.

Preparatory work had begun at Raith’s Stark’s Park – and Partick Thistle’s Firhill – last week ahead of Friday’s dramatic semi-final.

And the necessary cameras are now being installed at the Kirkcaldy ground this week in time for the first-leg of the final against County on Thursday.

Outgoing Scottish FA head of referees Crawford Allan is also due to visit Rovers on Tuesday to give a presentation to the squad and management team on what to expect.

The Raith Rovers players run to celebrate Lewis Vaughan's winning penalty in their play-off semi-final against Partick Thistle.
Raith Rovers’ semi-final win over Partick Thistle came courtesy of a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Image: Stuart Wallace / Shutterstock.

Some of the Raith players experienced VAR in last season’s Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat to Rangers at Ibrox, while the likes of Zak Rudden and James Brown are on loan from Premiership teams and will be used to the technology.

Rovers CEO Andy Barrowman confirmed: “VAR will be in operation for both legs of the final, so VAR is coming to Stark’s Park.

“There has been a lot of working getting carried out in the last week or two in preparation for it, with scaffolding towers going up and a drone being used and so on.

“It will obviously be something different for us. But Crawford Allan is coming to speak to the players and it will be good to get as much knowledge as we can ahead of the game.

“But, ultimately, the rules of the game don’t change and I’m sure the players won’t go onto the pitch with VAR in their minds.”

Ticket surge

Meanwhile, Raith have been handed almost 1,200 seats for Sunday’s second-leg against County – with the promise of more if needed.

Tickets for both games are now on sale, with Barrowman reporting they were ‘flying out the door’ within minutes of going on general release for Thursday’s home leg.

By early Monday afternoon they had already shifted over 4,000 briefs.

Friday’s triumph over Partick was virtually a home sell-out in a crowd of 6,070.

And Barrowman is hopeful of a large backing for both encounters with County, despite the difficulties of a 12 noon kick-off in Dingwall on Sunday.

Raith Rovers goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski is mobbed by supporters after the win over Partick Thistle. Image: Stuart Wallace / Shutterstock.

He added: “The kick-off time on Sunday makes everything a little bit more difficult, for the fans, for the players and for the club.

“But there’s nothing we or Ross County can do about that; it’s dictated by other powers.

“The main thing is we are there and in the final. We are two games away from the Premiership and we’re delighted to have that chance.

“It’s great to be involved in these games. We want to create as many occasions like these as we can and give the fans something to remember.

“Their backing on Friday was fantastic and, given we’ve already sold over 4,000 for Thursday, I’m sure it will be again over these two games.”

No room at the inn

Meanwhile, Raith are struggling to find accommodation for their travelling party for Sunday’s second-leg against County.

With the early kick-off, the plan is for the management team and squad to spend Saturday night in the Highlands.

However, Barrowman has revealed they have encountered some issues finding a hotel able to take a block booking at short notice.

He explained: “We are trying to get a hotel but it is proving difficult.

“It is tourist season, it’s a bank holiday weekend and it’s a Saturday night. Finding somewhere we can get 20 rooms is not easy.”