AND so, as predicted, the introduction of VAR to Scottish football has not only allowed our referees to get the big calls right, but it has also peeped the gas of all those conspiracy theorists out there who are convinced that the SFA and their coterie of officials have it in for their team. Phew.

It’s a little early for panto season, but I can almost hear the cries of “oh no it hasn’t” from fans of all shades, though the retort of “oh yes it has” from VAR apologists is still a little faint.

In fairness, neither the Scottish football governing bodies nor the pantomime villains in black themselves claimed that VAR would be flawless and result in 100 percent of decisions being called correctly, but it has so far proven to be little more than an annoying appendage to the game.

Whether it is the technology itself, the oft-derided ‘Poundland’ iteration of it at the disposal of Scottish referees, or the way they are choosing to implement it, VAR has found few friends so far north of the border outside of the refereeing community. And certainly not in the stands nor the dugouts.

There were always going to be blind spots given the relative lack of cameras at the disposal of referees in Scotland, but a contentious offside given against Celtic’s Jota the other night seems to have been ratified by use of mobile phone footage sent from a fan at the opposite end of Fir Park’s Main Stand.

Much of the early wrinkles will of course be put down to ‘teething problems’, and there is also a fair point to be made that it is in fact the ridiculous handball rule that is causing most of the issues. But if the debate over ‘natural position’ is the bully putting the fear into defenders, then VAR is the snot-nosed hanger-on clyping on where his victims are hiding.

There were four penalties given this midweek in Scotland as a result of VAR checks, and it could be argued that if all of those so-called offences escaped the attention of the officials – as they did on the field – then there would have been no complaints from players, managers nor fans.

As it is, the obsession with getting every decision ‘right’ by the letter of the law has now superseded fairness, and we are all the poorer for it.

Defenders are going into challenges with their hands behind their backs, the most unnatural position you could imagine had you played football at as much as five-a-side level. Whereas Celtic’s Alexandro Bernabei, in perhaps the most ludicrous example so far, was penalised for a handball against Dundee United last weekend when facing in the completely opposite direction.

He wasn’t doing a star jump in an attempt to block the ball, but had leapt in an attempt to header it, with his arms coming up by his side as an automatic result.

Having had the ball headed off his arm with no knowledge of the incident, he was then also booked to add insult to injury. That is an issue with the rules, yes, but had VAR not intervened then everyone would have carried on and not an eyelid would have been batted.

The departure from the ‘clear and obvious error’ directive has resulted in the technology becoming a huge irritation, exacerbated by the long delays we have witnessed so far as the video official in Clydesdale House pores over footage to find the tiniest infraction.

What’s more, having been told that VAR would not be re-refereeing games, we are now in a situation where the on-field officials are often not calling incidents at all, preferring to wait and see what Big Brother has to say.

Take the penalty eventually awarded to Hearts on VAR’s opening weekend, when Cameron Carter-Vickers wiped out Cammy Devlin right under the nose of referee Nick Walsh. This wasn’t an example of VAR correcting a decision that the referee missed, he couldn’t fail to have spotted it.

Ultimately, yes, the correct decision was finally given, defenders of VAR may say. And isn’t that worth the delay? Frankly, no. If this was a case of VAR helping a referee call this incident correctly, then his competency as an official is the only thing up for debate.

There has also been an incident where a referee, John Beaton, was invited to use VAR, where the evidence presented to him made him get a decision wrong. Having failed to award a foul for Tony Watt’s challenge on Motherwell’s Sean Goss, slow motion replays and still images then convinced him to produce a red card for the Dundee United forward. It was later rescinded on appeal, but by that time of course, Motherwell had slinked down the road with the three points.

So, in one regard, the refs were right. Errors are still going to happen. Decisions will still be subjective from official to official. That all rather begs the question though, just what is the bloody point?

Is it so our referees can again be considered for major tournaments and not be ‘left behind’ their continental counterparts? I’m sure there will be many fans asking ‘so what’?

In time, the system will undoubtedly become more refined, and hopefully a little less annoying for punters, players and managers. But is a four or five percent increase in the number of ‘correct’ calls made by referees really ample compensation for what VAR takes away from the game? I remain to be convinced. And the more I see of it, the less I am sure I ever will be.

It feels that Scottish football has missed an opportunity to lean into the one thing that it is perhaps known for above anything else; that it was one of the last bastions of ‘authentic football’, where fans celebrate goals wildly and spontaneously rather than with their camera phones in their hands.

The bottom line is that VAR chips away at the joy football brings to fans, and for me, that is far too big a price to pay.