THERE will be many a critic of VAR who would wryly remark that Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell wasn’t kidding when he predicted that the technology’s early days in Scottish football would be ‘horrendous’.

For many brassed off managers and punters, though, the VAR rollout has been no laughing matter. And neither has it been a smooth transition for the officials themselves, some of whom have been subjected to some horrendous treatment on top of the increased scrutiny that the cameras have brought with them.

What will be heartening though for all parties concerned is that Maxwell is determined to ensure that the VAR process is refined and improved, and that means being open-minded about innovation and learning from those who have been grappling with the technology for a little longer than we have in Scotland.

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For instance, he has noted with interest moves from PGMOL in England and Ligue 1 in France to increase accountability and transparency by making VAR discussions between the officials available to the public, and he doesn’t rule out doing the same here in time as he looks to challenge the accusations of secrecy that have been levelled at the association in the past.

“It’s something that we’re looking at,” Maxwell said.

“I think there has to be a sense of realism in terms of the length of time we’ve had it in, it’s only been since October to now.

“It’s not been in place for a long time. England have had it for six years and it’s only in the last few months since Howard Webb came in that they have had a change of tack and want to go down that road.

“I think anything that improves transparency and accountability is absolutely fine, and that’s what we should be striving towards.

“We need to make sure that supporters in stadiums are understanding things as well as they can be. There are technological issues around that, some stadiums don’t have big screens, so it is difficult to do that as well as we’d like to.

“But anything that improves that has got to be under consideration, there is absolutely no doubt about that, and there are ongoing discussions about a range of different things.

“That’s not just specific to VAR audio, because under the laws of the game we are not allowed to stream it live as such and let the VAR and the match officials’ conversations to be heard, which is what everyone would want.

“You can guarantee that people would then pick apart what the referee is saying and how he said it, what he called that player or why he called that player a nickname, that means something.

“I can just hear it all in my head and I know how that would go, but from a transparency and accountability point of view, we aren’t doing that because we are hiding it, we are doing it because we are six or seven months into a process that is a change project across Scottish football.

“It is a huge piece of work, and we need to manage it in bitesize chunks, and get there on a journey. Otherwise, we would just end up in a real mess if we don’t do it properly and think things through.”

Again, VAR critics may counter that we are in a real mess as it is.

For all that Maxwell mounts a defence of how VAR has been implemented thus far though, he also admits it isn’t a good look when decisions such as the recent red cards for Hibernian’s Jimmy Jeggo and Hearts midfielder Peter Haring are overturned on appeal having been upheld in the VAR room.

“That isn’t great,” he said. “There is no doubt about that.

“Listen, I am not defending us, but it has happened in other countries it is not specific to Scotland. There is definitely a learning curve there and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen. That shouldn’t happen.

“If there is a match official looking at something and a VAR official looking at something then they should get to the right outcome.

“There probably will be instances where decisions can be subjective and then they are appealed, and a panel might have a slightly different view for whatever reason. But the protocol is clear and obvious. That is something to work through but it’s not a great look for anybody.

“The last thing match officials want is for that to happen because if there is an appeal launched that’s because they’ve got something wrong, and they are as upset about that as anybody else.”

READ MORE: Hearts win red card appeal as Peter Haring available against Aberdeen

Some managers may argue that final point, with Ross County boss Malky Mackay the latest to call for an end of season summit to discuss concerns around VAR, as well as the implementation of the handball rule.

That was something Maxwell had already pencilled into his diary though.

“You need to keep that dialogue open,” he said.

“Our match officials are getting used to using it. Players are getting used to being the subject of it. And managers and assistant managers and staff are getting used to using it as well, so it is a big learning curve for all of football.

“Media guys are getting used to it. Spectators are getting used to it. It is about that dialogue and understanding.

“When we implemented it, we used the World Cup break and we got the chief execs and I think some of the managers were on the call as well, and we had a chat about the first four or five weeks.

“We said we would do the same at the end of the season to have a bit of a review. That hasn’t changed. 

“We will organise that and do that and it’s right that we do it because it lets us hear from clubs and it lets clubs hear from us and we need to keep that dialogue open.

“The technology has been good,” he added.

“The technology has worked, which is always a concern when you are implementing something of that size and scale. We have had no issues.

“I would be naïve to sit here and say it has been perfect because it’s not, and we need to work hard to make it as good as it everybody wants it to be.

“There needs to be a dose of reality that says you know what, we are six or seven months in and one of those was a World Cup with no games. So, if you actually look at the number of matches that our match officials have had, either in the middle as a match official or sitting as a VAR room, their experience is really, really limited. And you need to go through the process.

“Like anything, you need to keep doing it and you need to keep getting more used to it.

“It is ongoing. We want it to be as good as it can be. We want to work out how to make the stadium experience better for supporters. How do we get as much information as we can out to them? How do we make sure that the media guys know what’s happening quicker and more efficiently? How do we make sure the managers in the technical areas are understanding what’s happening as quickly and efficiently as we can?

“I’m not sitting here saying it has been perfect by any stretch. There is absolutely no doubt that we are getting fewer decisions wrong, which is why it was implemented.

“But bizarrely and unsurprisingly, given that it’s Scottish football, we are spending more time talking about the few decisions that are wrong…or not as right as they could be.

“That is a bit counter-intuitive, but doesn’t surprise anybody given the football landscape here.”                

*Ian Maxwell was speaking as the Scottish FA launched the first ever ‘Week of Football’, a series of events celebrating the power of football, bookended by the Women’s and Men’s Scottish Cup Finals. More details can be found at