WILLIE COLLUM has waited a long time for a second look at Scottish football.

The referee first encountered VAR back in 2019 when the technology was first introduced in European football. He took charge of a Champions League fixture while the review system was still in its infancy and now that it is finally arriving on our shores, Scotland’s top referee can’t wait to use it.

“There is not a referee in the world who doesn’t want the opportunity to see a decision again,” he explained. “That will be a godsend for all of us — that opportunity to have a safety net and know that, if I make and error, then I’ve got the chance to see it again.

“I won’t be worrying about what Sportscene will show on Saturday night or what someone will text you. But the key principle is the same: the referee must try to get the decision right on the field. A great deal of our training at the Scottish FA is about getting the decision right.

“As a referee, you don’t want to need to use VAR. It’s great coming off when you haven’t used VAR because the prime focus is to get the decision right on the field.”

VAR will be in use for the first time during Hibernian’s home fixture against St Johnstone a week tomorrow – the technology has been brought in ahead of schedule, having originally been pencilled in to be introduced after the Qatar World Cup – although not everyone is convinced it will be plain sailing from here on in.

Indeed, Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell predicted earlier this week that the first three months of using the video review system would be “horrendous”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Crawford Allan, the SFA’s head of referee operations and the key figure in the implementation process, feels differently as he urged supporters to be patient with the officials.

He said: “I think, based on experience from every other country, we are not naiive enough to think there won’t be a few challenges.

“We might take a few seconds longer to do a clip review than they might do at FIFA for the World Cup because they have the best referees who have been doing VAR forever.

“If I give you a driving licence example – the guys have just been given their driving licence and they’ve been passed by FIFA. If you drive a car more often after you pass your test you get more comfortable with the machinery around you, you get better at using it.

“That’s just a natural part of human nature. It is going to take a few weeks to develop that skill to a higher level than just being able to drive. We are going to become increasingly confident.”

Some officials could feel slightly undermined that their decisions are being challenged by fellow referees making use of the technology and while Collum admits that trips to the pitchside monitor won’t exactly be something he looks forward to, he is adamant that the most important factor is that the correct decisions are reached.

“Refereeing is like playing – it’s all about confidence,” he explained. “If you’re going through a bad patch making mistakes your confidence is low. It’s harder. If you’re going through a good spell your confidence is high.

“The reality is – think how low your confidence would be if your three decisions are wrong in the game and you don’t have VAR. You’ve made those three errors. Can you imagine that for the rest of the week?

“That’s why I emphasise my colleagues at the SFA and their training is still about coaching and positioning, about the interpretation of the offsides and fouls to be able to make the decision at the right time.

“I’ve been there on many occasions where sometimes you’re just not in the right position through no fault of your own. Maybe there’s a handball and you’re behind it and it’s just impossible for any of us to see it.

“The confidence thing is a good point. No referee wants to go to the monitor three times but I’d rather go to the monitor three times in the one game than have zero confidence having made three errors in a game and they can’t be corrected.

“I don’t want to have to go to the monitor but it’s that safety net knowing if it happens - which it often can - I’ll be able to get a get-out.”

There might well be a safety net for Collum and his colleagues but the 43-year-old adds that there will be an increase in expectations, too.

“It would save you being the headline on a Monday,” he sad. “A colleague of mine from another European country told me very quickly the media changed. It wasn’t about the refereeing scandal on a Monday. It’s the fact the decision was corrected.

“That was the big thing. But I’m going to be a wee bit controversial and say attention will now turn to the VAR. If you’re sitting in a room with screens, people will expect us to get it right.

“That’s why you need to understand it’s not an easy situation sitting in here. I went to South Korea in 2017 when it was being trialled at the Under-20 World Cup.

“I really did have a vision of sitting watching a game of football in luxury and having a coffee and saying, ‘that maybe didn’t look right, can you rewind that for us?’

“The pressure you’re under in the VAR is intense. I know from operating in the VAR room you’re exhausted. It’s very mentally stressful. It’s not the same physical effect on you but mentally it’s very stressful. We don’t just come here and sit back.

“But there will less forgiveness if the guy sitting in here doesn’t get that right and I think that’s just being honest.”