Scottish football would test the patience of a saint at the best of times, but if there's one topic that brings out its worst in the culture then it's surely refereeing.

While fans of every club have suspicion referees have it in for them, the heightened stakes in Glasgow take this to another level. With the added cultural baggage that comes with the two major clubs and the intense glare of a media that pounces on every single crumb that drops from the dinner table, it's an extremely challenging environment to attempt to apply the, often subjective, laws of the game. 

Look at Barry Robson’s rash, emotional reaction to the penalty given for a bone-headed shirt pull in yesterday's match between Aberdeen and Rangers. He knows this kind of foul is being looked at by VAR on a game-by-game basis but he couldn’t quite bring himself to shake the faux sense of injustice as he gave his post-match reaction. He even added a hint of conspiracy for good measure by saying: “It doesn’t look good, another VAR decision going Rangers’ way in the 90th minute again. What I feel, I can’t say.”

Amidst this kind of infantile innuendo, and Robison isn’t the first to reach for it, who'd want to be a referee? Seriously, there must be a barely concealed masochistic streak running through every single one of them. 

Even the watering holes they frequent are scrutinised with a level of forensic detail that most top politicians don’t have to navigate. 

READ MORE: Aberdeen manager Barry Robson states Scottish football is 'in trouble'

Imagine having your integrity questioned by barely informed pundits who demonstrate a bizarre belligerence toward reading the actual laws of the game. Some of them will argue about what the rule should be rather than what it is. Others base their opinions on what referees might have allowed 30 years ago. More still are simply seeking a controversial bonfire to keep themselves relevant.

It is in this hysteria, that the men in black have to go about their business. So perhaps they are entitled to be slightly defensive.

In spite of this, the Scottish press was invited to a largely off-the-record meeting at Hampden last week to give an update on how VAR has been going. What was clear from a meeting that lasted nearly two and a half hours was that Crawford Allan, the head of refereeing is trying to be more open and modernise how his department communicates. 

The previous incumbent, the late John Fleming gave the distinct impression he could quote the last 30 years of IFAB laws off the top of his head but was not someone who seemed terribly predisposed to opening his department up for scrutiny. Allan, by comparison, is taking steps to change perceptions of a closed shop. 

Is it enough? No. The SFA can still do more. It would be straightforward and helpful, for example, to release the laws cited in key decisions after games to add clarity. You can understand why they are reluctant though, such is the hysteria - as with Robson, often ramped up by the suggestion of conspiracy - that can surround decisions. 

READ MORE: Philippe Clement backs 'honest' VAR and makes xG dominance claim

There are real-world consequences in these scenarios. Many current and former top-class officials tell stories that make your toes curl. Why add more oxygen to a bonfire raging out of control?

At the, at times fraught, meeting, Allan was in command of his brief and both he and the similarly composed and articulate young referee Nick Walsh showed patience with the myriad questions fired in their direction. They demonstrated the steady improvements that have come in the use of VAR with 10 seconds shaved off the average on-field review decision. The SFA say that 90.5 per cent of decisions from the man in the middle are correct with VAR taking that to 97.8 per cent. 

It had been correctly highlighted previously that these figures were all well and good but there was always the sense that the governing body were 'marking their own homework'.  This has been addressed with the formation of an Independent Review Panel of experts who looked at the 24 on-field reviews plus any other incidents they requested to see. This panel gave a higher figure of 99.3 per cent accuracy, suggesting the SFA are erring on the side of caution with their numbers.

It didn't impress BBC pundit Rory Loy, a vocal presence in the meeting. He said on Sportsound: "With the stats and the figures it was all very tedious. It was fine but you don't really get anywhere I don't think. I did take a few things from it but overall it was a bit hard to listen to for two and a half hours."

Having spent time to detail everything, knowing any failure to give out the right level of information would be met with the suggestion they are hiding unpleasant truths, the referees were caught between a rock and a hard place with that criticism. While scrutiny of match decisions is a valid part of the media, in Scotland we absolutely get the balance wrong. 

Running through much of the debate is a lack of empathy for how truly impossible the role is. Having to concentrate so intensely while the emotions of a full stadium swirl around you requires incredible concentration. To be cool-headed and rational amid the chaos is a skilful feat. It’s beyond time for this to be more readily acknowledged.

The truth is that Scotland’s refs have implemented VAR in a reasonably successful way despite inevitable ups and downs. The inherent flaws in the system itself should not be used against the governing body’s implementation. Compare and contrast with the level of noise in England for example, where the system has been in operation for much longer. 

Few will recognise this truth. When criticising a team or manager, there’s often a consequence. People will disagree, take you to task, maybe even call you out. With referees it’s consequence free. Wire in! Its a profession where it must seem that nobody has your back.

After 150 minutes of discussion and debate, my main thought was of how these diligent, credible guys, who endeavour to improve every day must feel amidst some of the inanity that plays out on the back of their work.

Who’d be a referee? Not me.