ON the back of the astounding success of the recent docuseries Alan Bates vs The Post Office, there’s maybe someone working behind the scenes at Rangers on a Philippe Clement vs The SFA spin-off.

Rarely does a television drama generate a sense, not only of a shared feeling of injustice, but of a lack of a tangible target to aim frustrations at against a faceless, bureaucratic entity which masks the many failings overseen, in the end, by individuals running the show.

But after days of political hysteria, calls for honours to be returned, sentences revoked, compensation paid and new legislation introduced practically overnight in Westminster, chances are things will go quiet again on College Green as the slow and mundane process of the ongoing public inquiry is carried out.

Remember, back up in the world of Scottish football, the days of tubthumping, statements, meetings and calls for this official to be suspended from those matches in the aftermath of Rangers’ 2-1 derby defeat to Celtic way back on December 30? Well, it’s all gone a bit quiet again since the Ibrox club’s request for a meeting with SFA officials was granted just over a week ago.

The Herald: Scottish referee Willie CollumScottish referee Willie Collum (Image: SNS)READ MORE: Sam Lammers insists 'I developed well' at Rangers

You wonder if Willie Collum’s match schedule and audio clips from VAR control rooms are still occupying Clement’s thoughts as he puts his players through their paces in their warm-weather training camp in Spain while trying to move some on and bring other fresh faces in during the January transfer window.

In Gwyneth Hughes’ Post Office mini-series, the Horizon computer system responsible for discrepancies in the sub-postmasters’ accounts is depicted like the HAL computer system in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey – a kind of malignant presence lurking in the background. In the Rangers version, that would of course be VAR, and Clement would be Toby Jones’ Mr Bates, contesting every inch with the Scottish FA.

After that bruising derby defeat to Celtic at the turn of the year, Collum was the human scapegoat following a perceived handball incident involving Celtic full-back Alistair Johnston. Collum’s failure to at least give match official Nick Walsh a chance to review the incident clearly stuck in the craw of Clement at full-time (even though it would never have reached the match official when the initial review inevitably spotted Abdallah Sima’s offside in the build-up). In the breathless aftermath, the club followed up with an inquest into the officials’ handling of the incident with the SFA. 

The Herald: Celtic defender Alistair Johnston challenges Rangers forward Abdallah SimaCeltic defender Alistair Johnston challenges Rangers forward Abdallah Sima (Image: SNS)READ MORE: Kenny Miller urges Dessers to step up at Rangers before it is too late

As the dust settles on the first half of the season, it would appear that the Ibrox club’s grievances after their penultimate match before the winter break were more to do with the overall process rather than the outcome of a specific incident. SFA transparency became a kind of buzzword in the commentary that surrounded the furore.

The Govan club’s response to a deserved defeat to their arch-rivals opened them up to claims of churlishness. But, simmering below the embittered calls for crunch talks with Hampden officials, there is a rumbling sense within Scottish football that something is amiss with the opaque nature of the SFA. Is that fair?

In the SFA’s own statement in response to Rangers’ claims that the generally accepted view of the handball incident at the meeting with the governing body last week was that the wrong call had been made, they pointed to the process already in place for “key match incidents” to be reviewed and shared with all clubs after every full round of fixtures.

With several clubs holding games in hand, the second round of fixtures which includes the Glasgow derby on December 30 is yet to be fulfilled. While technically the Johnston handball does not qualify as a “key match incident”, Herald Sport understands that it will be one of those discussed at the next review.

In due course, then, the audio from the VAR control room during this incident will reach Rangers, as it will the other 11 clubs – so was the issue more to do with urgency than transparency? With the winter break fast approaching and Celtic eight points clear at the top of the table again, perhaps the mood dial had to be shifted sooner rather than later.

The Herald: SFA headquarters at HampdenSFA headquarters at Hampden (Image: SNS)READ MORE: Miovski dismisses Celtic transfer talk as he hands Aberdeen big boost

It is hard to imagine a sporting culture more prone to accusations of systemic bias – whether from referees, governing bodies or indeed the media – than in the heated polemics of Scottish football. In truth, there is no systemic bias in any of these areas. All 12 clubs in the top-flight have felt slighted by VAR at some point or another and this is far from unique to any one – indeed, so have the SFA. Remember Scott McTominay’s disallowed goal in Seville against Spain? The Scottish governing body themselves wrote to UEFA seeking clarity on the decision-making process. Those requests were swiftly booted out by their European counterparts.

Premiership clubs will have the chance to discuss their own VAR grievances during the next review of key match incidents. No doubt Hearts will be keen to discuss Alan Forrest’s yellow card for simulation in the 2-2 draw against Ross County, a decision which was rescinded after an appeal by the Tynecastle club. Perhaps Aberdeen manager Barry Robson will have something to say about the late penalty awarded to Rangers in his side’s 1-1 draw at Pittodrie in November. Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes lamented last month’s 1-0 defeat at home to Hearts after officials performed a VAR check on a Will Dennis challenge on Yutaro Oda after the Japanese forward had already been flagged for offside.

The Herald: VAR check at IbroxVAR check at Ibrox (Image: SNS)READ MORE: Celtic stuck in Groundhog Day as window starts with whimper

While refereeing decisions have always caused consternation on one side or the other, VAR has turbo-charged the conspiracy theorists with some of the more confounding decisions we have seen since its introduction in the cinch Premiership last season. But these occur on all sides.

That’s the point Rangers really must embrace if they are serious about spearheading transformative action in this area: they need to take others with them. 

Both clubs knew full well before a ball was kicked in Parkhead last month that officials would not come out and explain decisions, and that audio from VAR discussions would become available at the next appropriate time - not hours after the final whistle. That’s the process in place.

So, it’s all quiet again during the Scottish football mid-season siesta. Until the next big VAR flashpoint, that is. That’s one thing which requires no clarification.