WHEN it comes to referees, I’ll forgive all manner of sins.

All the little errors – throw-ins given the wrong way, pulled jerseys missed, balls over the touchline being waved on – that pile up like pieces of Lego on your toddler’s bedroom floor. In isolation they’re harmless, but every now and again you’ll step on a piece and a barrage of obscenities ripped from the pages of a Quentin Tarantino movie script comes hurtling from the pit of your soul as the stinging pain spreads right through your body.

What to do in such moments? Do you take a deep breath, accept your miserable life, and calmly demonstrate how to tidy up after oneself? Or do you devise an omniscient structure that ensures every inch of floorspace is free from potentially harmful objects?

Imagine for a second you went with the second option. You hire a nanny at great expense to keep a constant check on the offending party. Then, your horror the next time you step on Lego Spider-Man’s torso – right on the pointy bit where the head is attached. Where would you direct your frothing rage this time? Spidey? Kiddy? The babysitter? What about yourself for throwing all your precious cash down the drain for such an ineffectual governess?

The Herald: The decision is...The decision is... (Image: Internet)

READ MORE: The 'cold' Philippe Clement quote Rangers fans are loving

Then imagine instead some fellow parent in your neighbourhood was tasked with observing your toddler’s many misdemeanours from every angle and called you every couple of minutes to inform you that you missed a spot of jam on the carpet, snotter on the sleeve or, that most heinous of crimes, stray piece of Lego on the bedroom floor. Would this make you a better parent? More rounded? Free from error? At ease to focus on your other duties? Or a quivering mess second-guessing your own every move.

This is the 10th circle of hell we find ourselves in in the Divine Comedy that is Scottish football in 2024 with VAR. Limbo, where supporters inside our football grounds find themselves every time “VAR review” appears on the big screens, Lust for perfection, Gluttony of interference, Greedy indulgence in process, supporters’ Wrath over acts of Heresy against the rules of the game all follow in the Scottish football adaptation. Threats of Violence in the wake of calls for this official or that to be excluded from fixtures, all circling around the drain of Fraud that is the Scottish FA’s defence of this Treacherous system.

The Herald: SFA head of referee operations Crawford AllanSFA head of referee operations Crawford Allan (Image: SNS)

READ MORE: Dundee team bus towed in Glasgow after Celtic hammering

SFA head of referee operations Crawford Allan can preach all the positive statistics he likes in terms of VAR improving the number of correct decisions made by officials in cinch Premiership matches, but ask supporters who pay to pass through the gates into the realm of the football ground whether it improves their match-day experience, and there will be one damning statistic staring him right in the face: no one wants it. Certainly not in its current, overbearing form.

After an enthralling midweek Premiership card in which Celtic banged seven goals past Dundee, Rangers overturned an early Kilmarnock lead at Rugby Park, and Hearts and Hibs finished honours even in a topsy-turvy Edinburgh derby in Gorgie, VAR was once again at the centre of attention.

The Herald: Daniel Armstrong opens the scoring from the penalty spotDaniel Armstrong opens the scoring from the penalty spot (Image: PA)

READ MORE: Derek McInnes irked by Kilmarnock penalty snub vs Rangers

The penalty award to Killie after John Lundstram’s handball inside his own box which led to the opening goal in Ayrshire was pored over by TV pundits, with former Scottish referee Bobby Madden even pitching in after the game in his social-media take on big VAR calls across the fixtures. Madden’s verdict was that VAR should have encouraged the referee to change his on-field decision to point to the spot, but given the Rangers midfielder turned his back on the cross into his box with the ball striking his outstretched arm, it is hard to understand Madden’s justification for this take. Killie manager Derek McInnes, too, was adamant that his side should have had a second penalty when Liam Donnelly was bundled over inside the penalty area, with the home side’s claims waved away and VAR apparently unmoved.

In the Edinburgh derby, Hibs, no strangers to VAR controversy this season, felt severely hard-done-by when referee Kevin Clancy stuck to his original decision to award a penalty to Hearts after Kenneth Vargas fell to ground inside the box after seizing on a loose ball from Hibs defender Will Fish.

The Herald: Ryan Leak's hand strikes ball inside the penalty areaRyan Leak's hand strikes ball inside the penalty area (Image: Sky Sports Scotland)READ MORE: St Mirren slams penalty snub as ref chief admits VAR error

And St Mirren released a statement confirming that they had taken up their concerns with the SFA’s refereeing department after an apparent handball by Ross County defender Ryan Leak inside his own penalty area in the 1-1 draw in the Highlands on Tuesday night went unnoticed by match officials and VAR.

The lack of consensus over each of these incidents points to the cardinal sin surrounding VAR: the fallacy that error can be removed when consensus over when an error has even occurred is often so hard to come by.

What VAR does in these instances is to puncture that collective deep breath we used to take after the initial stepping-on-Lego pain of feeling wronged by a decision – and no hiring of nannies to watch over our refs will eliminate our propensity to cop a sore one on a regular basis.

The pretence that VAR removes error and takes debate out of the game is not only for the birds but is also toxic when it comes to the debate surrounding contentious decisions. For, with less space for self-reflection, supporters, managers, players, clubs, all have another finger of blame to point with when things don’t go their way. Cue angry statements, calls for apologies from officials, VAR, governing bodies.

We’ll always disagree over decisions, the ones that go against us sting, but nannying our referees is not going to eradicate these feelings. If anything, VAR reduces the space to take a collective breath and recover – which ironically only serves to pile even more pressure on the very officials VAR is designed to help.