The most important innovation concerns the support for the referees. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and his assistant (AVAR) are now part of the regular cast of a game in the top Austrian league. In addition, there is a replay operator who operates the levers in the VAR room in Vienna and has to quickly provide the necessary images to the control specialists. The introduction of the technical aid is intended to ensure more justice in Austria’s top league. The first “VAR” will be Austria’s referee of the year, Harald Lechner.
The VAR will not only take part in all Bundesliga games, but also in the final of the ÖFB Cup. The implementation costs of around one million euros are borne by the ÖFB, while ongoing operations are borne by the Bundesliga with around 1.5 million euros per season. Association boss Leo Windtner spoke of a big and important step for Austrian football. The ÖFB referees should also make the connection internationally again.
Fans see new coach sextet
Unlike last season, the referees will be confronted with expressions of displeasure from the fans one way or another. Because thanks to the government’s easing of the coronavirus, full stadiums are allowed again. For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, vaccinated, recovered and tested people are allowed to enter the stands from Altach to Wien-Favoriten without imposed capacity limits. The Bundesliga and its clubs are happy to have regained the almost forgotten normalcy, but concerns about the coronavirus situation worsening again play a role.
In any case, the viewers will see six new faces on the sidelines compared to the previous season. Led by master Salzburg (Matthias Jaissle) five clubs are relying on new coaches, with Peter Pacult from the newcomer Austria Klagenfurt an old acquaintance is making his comeback in the upper house. The trainers are well known. Andreas Herzog (Admira) is coaching a Bundesliga team for the first time, Robin Dutt is working abroad for the first time after engagements in Germany. Added to this are Manfred Schmid (Austria) and Kurt Russ (Hartberg), who are deeply rooted in the clubs and promoted to head coaches.
The expertise from the capital dominates the coaching bench. With Herzog, Pacult and Schmid, as well as Andreas Heraf, Damir Canadi and Dominik Thalhammer, six of the twelve Bundesliga coaches are born in Vienna. If you add Dietmar Kühbauer (Burgenland), Christian Ilzer and Russ (both Styria), the east-heavy coaching position becomes even clearer this season. Since the head supervisors are all about the same age and mostly professionals themselves, it is not surprising that some of them still know each other as colleagues from earlier times in the club or the ÖFB team. “That’s the nice thing about it,” remarked Pacult of the reunion with the old acquaintances.
First Carinthian derby since 1985
Speaking of Klagenfurt: With the newcomer from the state capital and the RZ Pellets WAC, which has meanwhile established itself in the Bundesliga, Carinthia has two clubs in the top division for the first time since 1984/85. 37 years ago Austria Klagenfurt and SV Spittal / Drau played in the Austrian upper house. The derby premiere in the league takes place in the first round on Sunday. Austria receives the WAC in the Wörthersee Stadium, more than 9,000 tickets have been sold. In 2018, the WAC defeated Austria 4-0 in the Cup.