IAN Maxwell, the SFA chief executive, has refused to rule out Scotland’s referees wearing microphones in future in an attempt to increase clarity over VAR decisions ahead of talks with Premiership clubs today.

Maxwell will emphasise to the meeting that the new technology, which was introduced in this country back in October, is working at the end-of-season debrief despite the numerous controversies which have arisen as a result of its use.

He stressed that VAR had got no fewer than 27 major “factual” calls on penalties and offsides correct during the 2022/23 campaign and had significantly reduced the number of mistakes which our leading match officials have made. 

However, he has confessed that the governing body are keen to reduce the length of time which it takes to reach a ruling – which currently stands at around two minutes – next term and are looking at ways to improve their performance.

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Maxwell also stated that having “mic’d up” referees – which has been trialled successfully in French football this season – so that supporters watching matches can understand why a specific decision has been made is something which the SFA will consider going forward.

“The meeting was always on the cards,” he said. “We had a meeting during the World Cup because we had had four or five weekends of VAR. We said to the clubs we would have an end-of-season meeting. I think it is right that we engage with clubs over the course of a season.

“They can give us some feedback, we can give them some feedback. They can see the stats that actually show we are getting a lot more decisions right. It is doing what it is supposed to do. There is still a bit of subjectivity and that’s okay. 

“But I like it because it gets decisions right. The good thing that VAR has done this season, there have been something like 27 instances where there has been a factual check which we have got right. It is working in instances.”

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Maxwell added: “There is obviously the time it takes. We want to improve that, we want to reduce that. But we also need to do that knowing that it takes time to get decisions right.

“I will be sitting with Crawford (head of refereeing Allan) and he will say: ‘Well, that video review took three minutes, but actually we have checked the handball in the build-up, the offside in the build-up and then a potential penalty’.

“They are not taking a long time for the sake of taking a long time. This is the time it takes for all those thing to be checked and to be checked properly. If we didn’t do it properly we would get absolutely pulverised for not taking our time to get it right. It is a Catch 22.

“But we want to see continual improvement. We want to see the time decisions make to come down, if they can. We want to see the number of decisions we are getting right increase. We want that to be as high as it can. There's definitely work that's ongoing.

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Maxwell was interested to see conversations between Premier League match officials and their VAR colleagues in Stockley Park made public last month in an attempt to “give the football public the opportunity to hear the rationale behind the decision-making”.

“PGMOL (the Premier Game Match Officials Limited, the body responsible for overseeing refereeing standards in England) released some audio from previous matches in order to educate and help people understand,” he said. “We're not going to get there straight away. They’ve had a voice coach employed for 12 months to make sure the referees know what they're saying is going to be heard and get them thinking about that.  Because, with the greatest will in the world, referees aren't employed because they can speak well. They're appointed because they can make decisions.

“We will consider everything. Scottish football fans have a specific mentality and how they (referees) talk to players would be analysed to the nth degree. I can see it happening. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be doing it, we just need to be aware of that additional context behind it.

“They (England) are a lot further down the line because their officials have used VAR on the pitch for a long time. Our guys haven't even used it for a season. If you think about the number of times over the last seven months a single referee has had it on the pitch or in the VAR room, it's probably only just in double figures for each. There's not a huge amount of experience.

“But everything is on the table. We are not saying we're definitely not doing anything. We need to make sure the timing is right and the processes are right and that we don't jump into things too early and cause more problems than we solve.”