ANGE POSTECOGLOU’S feelings about VAR are pretty clear and obvious: while the big Australian does not oppose its use outright, he feels a more soft-touch approach from those camped in Clydesdale House should be adopted to avoid the lengthy delays that have curbed his enthusiasm this season. Maybe it’s because it’s summertime in the Celtic manager’s hometown of Melbourne at this time of year, and standing around watching referees poke their fingers in their ears and squint at TV monitors in the traditional west of Scotland deluges isn’t his idea of fun. The Parkhead manager just likes things to move fast.

Imagine an alternate universe where Postecoglou, arriving in Scotland for the first time, wanted to take the family out for a quick bite to eat and plumped for the famous McCollum’s drive-thru. Minimal fuss, clear and obvious menu. Just the ticket. For the kids you can get the resident clown Silly Willie’s world famous Card-Happy Meal – a no-bells but plenty-of-whistles feast to satisfy the shallowest of hungers.

But question this: would the post-super-size carb hangover be worth it if it wasn’t so quick and easy?

Imagine his reaction when, after stating the order clearly and obviously into the speaker, the voice came back and asked him to take another look at the menu.

Back in the real world, when Nicky Clark had his red card rescinded this week, I was probably thinking the same thing as you: In what alternate universe would Willie Collum miss the chance to send someone off? That should have been the first clue that not all was clear and obvious in this moment.

You have probably seen the incident. Trailing 1-0 at Ibrox, Saints midfielder Clark took a risk in going to ground to challenge Ryan Jack. With feet and legs flailing around, Collum blew his whistle and gave a free-kick to the home side. With Jack writhing on the turf in apparent agony, the SFA whistler followed the well-trodden path to his cards pocket and flashed yellow at Clark – possibly more surprising given his propensity for a rouge hue than for the severity of the challenge itself.

On BBC’s Sportscene programme, former Rangers player Richard Foster and former Grade One referee Stuart Dougal outright disagreed on what would be the correct decision. This was another clue that not all was clear and obvious in this incident. The eventual outcome within the match was that, after a VAR intervention, Collum was persuaded to upgrade the card to red and Clark – along with Saints’ hopes of a comeback in Glasgow – disappeared up the tunnel, with his side going on to lose 2-0 having played with 10 men for most of the match.

Now, for Collum’s former colleague Dougal, at least, VAR had done its job and the right outcome had been reached. But what about Foster in the studio? What about Clark? What about St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson? What about the travelling Saints fans? It was a dubious decision and there was never going to be any way to satisfy everyone.

So what’s the point in VAR in this type of situation? If you take a look at the SFA’s website you can find a Q&A page on the subject, and top of the list is: “When can VAR intervene?” The longwinded answer is: “Only in specific circumstances when the VAR thinks the on-field referee team has made a clear and obvious error”.

Now, let’s take a breath there. At this point, you might be inclined to say, “Fair enough. Someone, Connor Goldson, say, handles the ball in his own box for the third game in a row and the referee has missed it again. If VAR can intervene at this point, there is a chance to get it right at least. That’s all good and well, right?” But no, there’s more. There’s always more. The answer to “When can VAR intervene” continues: “or missed a serious incident relating to straight red cards; penalty-area incidents; goals.”

So, for the Nicky Clark incident, the VAR decided that the referee, Collum, had missed a straight red card right under his nose and called on him to have another look. With the VAR applying pressure, that infamously trigger-happy red-card-flicking finger twitched and Clark was sent packing after 37 minutes.

But it didn’t end there, did it? Everyone has an opinion, but the accepted wisdom is that the man in the middle has the final say. There were conflicting accounts of the challenge everywhere: rival fans, players, managers, between the officials and VAR, in the TV studios, and then, ultimately, after the match when St Johnstone appealed the decision, between the SFA panel and the referee.

This farce is summed up in Collum himself: the referee was clearly split on the decision. Watching it in real time, with a perfect view, he deigned it a caution. With VAR in his ear and with a second look from different angles, he changed his mind. Which was correct? Well, this is the point: neither.

All those expert pundits, the former referees, the officials themselves, VAR, the players for whom the game is their lifeblood, the managers who have played the game and whose job security depends upon it, none of them could agree. And what on earth has happened? The decision, as unclear and unobvious as a decision gets, goes to VAR, the referee’s mind is swayed, the decision is changed by decree of the man in charge, then it’s changed again by some higher power. This is ludicrous. It undermines the role referees play in the sport, and it highlights the need for the SFA’s approach to VAR to change.

The lines between foul, caution and red card are always blurry and VAR should never have been seen as a silver bullet to mistakes being made. We entrust trained officials to make a judgement on the field.

The whole process is also very costly. It costs supporters money to go to games every week and the spectacle is being harmed by VAR, just ask Postecoglou.

The technology and its implementation are paid for by clubs whose budgets are impacted. When decisions like the Clark one go against clubs like St Johnstone, the chairman must weigh up the financial cost of appealing the decision with the SFA. The process is then drawn out over several days, and for what?

It was a decision that should have been made in real time, and the irony is that it was. It’s an embarrassment. The SFA’s implementation of VAR is having reputational damage on the Scottish Premiership. That’s the only thing clear and obvious in this whole sorry debacle.