THERE are enough Scottish football supporters, among the followers of the two main Glasgow clubs especially, who mistakenly believe that match officials in this country are biased against their team as things are.

So what impact will a referee opting not to award what one set of supporters believes is a clear penalty after viewing repeated replays of the incident from a variety of different angles have? The reaction from the conspiracy theorists doesn’t bear thinking about.

But it is, given the controversy which has surrounded some of the decisions involving the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) at Russia 2018, a scenario that could easily occur when the system is brought in, as it inevitably will be, here.

Yet, John Fleming, the man with the unenviable task of overseeing refereeing in Scotland, is unconcerned at that prospect.

Fleming, the head of refereeing operations at the SFA, knows that VAR won’t eradicate mistakes being made, injustices happening and aspersions being cast about impartiality of his officials, but he believes it can only be beneficial to the game.

Asked if he thought VAR would increase distrust in Scottish referees, he said: “I would think it will have the opposite effect. It will give the referee an opportunity to correct a decision if he has erred. I would think it will clarify things.

“I think it will be positive. I just can’t see how anything that increases the accuracy of decision making can’t be positive. Anything that can take you from 93 per cent accuracy to 98 per cent can only be of benefit to the game.”

One of the most contentious decisions made by an official in Scotland in the past few seasons took place at Parkhead last year during the closing stages of a tense Celtic game against Rangers.

Leigh Griffiths, the Celtic striker who was bearing down on goal, went to ground in the Rangers penalty box in injury-time following a challenge by opposition centre half Clint Hill. No spot kick was given by Bobby Madden and the encounter finished 1-1. The fallout was predictably hysterical.

Fleming believes VAR would have been invaluable in that instance. “In that specific incident the footage from the goalline was the determining footage,” he said. “The referee would never, ever be in that position.”

The prospect of reversing a penalty decision in stoppage time in a Glasgow derby match may not be an especially appealing one for a referee, but Fleming is confident that, in time, fans will come to accept such actions.

“People have got to be educated about why the referee changed his mind,” he said. “Why did he change his decision? Because he supports a certain team? No, because he’s seen pictures from an angle that he wasn’t privy to.

“We have to tell people that and say the reason a referee has changed his decision is because he has seen an angle that demonstrated there was an infringement, there was serious foul play, there was violent conduct. Do you accept that angle shows that? Do you accept the referee couldn’t see that?

“Sometimes the broadcasters are kind enough to highlight footage that clearly shows the referee’s view is blocked. If it’s impossible for him to see an incident because there are two players in front of him then he can’t give anything. But if the referee can go to VAR he can make a decision based on the footage.”

But what if a referee goes to VAR and still gets a call badly wrong. That has happened on numerous occasions during Russia 2018. Won’t that be damaging to the reputation of referees. Fleming stresses the new technology isn’t foolproof and won’t eliminate human error.

“There is always subjectivity,” he said. “I can show 100 referees a foul and 70 per cent of them will say red and 30 per cent of them will say yellow. That is the subjectivity in all incidents – violent conduct, serious foul play and denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity are the three prominent ones. There are different views.

“Everybody should always remember the principle of VAR. The aim is not to achieve 100 per cent accuracy for all decisions as this would destroy the essential flow and emotion of the game. If everybody in the world can accept that they will accept that some decisions are going to be wrong.

“If I was a spectator I would be asking 'why can’t you achieve 100 per cent?' The simple answer is 'a person called a human being'. The human being will err. There is no doubt they will err.

“There is an atmosphere in the ground. The referee is standing there in this wee cubicle looking at a screen, his hand over his ear, trying to communicate. It is difficult. You have that subjectiveness.

“That is where you get the two per cent. One referee thinks yellow, another thinks red, one thinks penalty, one doesn’t, one thinks denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, one doesn’t."

Fleming added: “I have always said that VAR isn’t the most advanced technology in the world. Let’s not get overexcited about it. It is a replay. It isn’t the most rocket science technology we are ever going to put in the game. It has a massive impact on the game, but it is a human being who will bring it down.

“The Confederations Cup was one of the first tournaments to use VAR. There was a clear elbow in the final between Chile and Germany, clear violent conduct. It couldn’t have been any clearer. The referee went over and looked at it and, for whatever reason, decided yellow. You would need to speak to that referee and ask him why.

“VAR isn’t taking human error out of it, that will always be there. The good thing about it is that if you have two or three people looking at something you have more confidence in your decision.”

One criticism of VAR has been that is interrupts and slows down the flow of a game, but Fleming feels that is a misconception.

“Look at corners, free-kicks, throw-ins, goal kicks,” he said. “A game will be stopped for roughly seven minutes for free-kicks, five minutes for goal kicks, five minutes for throw-ins. Add that all up.

“The record for the ball being on the grass and moving at the 2014 World Cup was 57 minutes. Time is lost through corners, goal kicks, throw-ins, free-kicks. So why are people getting concerned about VAR?

“They reckon they can get the VAR down to 30 seconds. And there are only two or three calls in the course of a game. A lot of games have got zero calls. You are now talking about a minute or a minute and a half. Saying VAR will slow the game down is a myth.”

Fleming will watch the Russia 2018 quarter-finals, semi-finals and final with great interest in the coming days because he feels how VAR is perceived by the football world will be determined by how successfully it is used at those matches.

“We will decide at the next IFAB meeting in November if it was a success or it wasn’t a success,” he said.

“We are coming to the stage of the World Cup where it is unforgivable in terms of decision making. When you get to the quarter-finals, semi-finals or final of the tournament any decision made determines whether a country is going on to win the cup or is leaving.

“VAR should be judged over the whole tournament. Unfortunately, we tend to judge it on the big decision in the final game. If the game was won and lost on a VAR decision and VAR was correct that is a massive tick for VAR.

“Once we understand the principles and practicalities of it, I think VAR will benefit football. Once we see the outcomes of the World Cup, which I am convinced will be positive, and accept there will be elements where there are disagreements, but the life of the game will be maintained.”