CRAIG Levein has branded the second penalty that Rangers were awarded against St Johnstone today as “incredibly unfair” and joked that VAR was now “8-0 up” on the struggling Perth club this season.

Levein conceded that his team had not deserved to win the cinch Premiership match against their Ibrox rivals - who moved above Celtic in the top flight table with a 3-0 triumph - at McDiarmid Park this afternoon.

However, the former Dundee United, Hearts and Scotland manager felt the second spot kick, which referee Matthew MacDermid gave after watching a replay of a Tom Lawrence shot hitting the arm of Luke Robinson on his pitchside monitor, had been harsh.

The 59-year-old is unhappy both with the current handball rule and how new technology is being used in this country - and claimed that matches are being re-refereed by VAR officials at Clydesdale House in Glasgow.

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“That’s VAR 8-0 up on us now,” he said. “I haven’t seen them back. The lads are saying that the first one, they thought, was a penalty. The second one they didn’t, that was their view on it. But it’s second hand information. 

“It’s unbelievably unfair. When you spin your arm comes out. I don’t know how you are supposed to keep your arm in like that when you are spinning. The referee hasn’t seen it and it’s the people in the booth that call it. It’s these guys in the booth making calls that are baffling at times. 

“We didn’t lose the game just because of VAR today, but it certainly made life much more comfortable for Rangers and took some of our energy away after they were awarded a couple of goals.” 

The Herald: Rangers manager Philippe Clement at McDiarmid Park todayLevein added: “I don’t know what the best rule is to have – but could we have one that applies to everybody? That would be nice. Supporters come along and pay their money.

“They have to sit for five minutes with a feeling of dread in their stomach, but everybody knows what’s going to happen. The referee’s going to make whatever decisions have been made in the booth.

“The referees aren’t really refereeing the game anymore. Maybe they should just get half their money! I’ve seen a load of handballs recently. I really don’t know what’s going on just now. It’s quite depressing sitting here every week and talking about stuff that should be helping but isn’t.”

St Johnstone are just five points above second-bottom placed Ross County in the Premiership after their third straight league defeat – but Levein was pleased with how his charges applied themselves against Rangers and is upbeat about their future prospects.

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“The game was frustrating,” he said. “We worked the system really well in the first half, shifting between a four and a five and a three. We restricted Rangers to very few opportunities. Other than the goal I can’t really remember an awful lot of stress in the first half at all. 

“Listen, I am frustrated and feel for the boys because they have worked so, so hard. To have another couple of incidents in the game that have cost us is frustrating. 

 “I’m not saying we would have beaten Rangers, but we performed the way we did in the first half then had to change it to try and get back in the game, which opened us up, and Rangers had most of the chances in the last 20 minutes. 

“Today’s game wasn’t one most people would have thought we’d win. I was pleased with the way we played for most of the game. At some point Livingston were going to pick up a win. If we apply ourselves next week as we did today, we’ll have a good chance of winning.”