Do Honest Mistakes Really “Even Out”? Let’s See Shall We?

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Over the last few days we’ll heard that hoary old nonsense about how the Honest Mistakes “even themselves out” over the course of a football season.

There’s a simple, and effective, way to find out if this is even remotely true; you keep track of them.

That’s exactly what I am going to do; I’m going to keep a detailed Honest Mistakes count, and since there’s one club that the media and the SFA are determined to help as much as possible, it’s only fair that as well as keeping an eye on decisions that go for and against Celtic we do exactly the same to them. So, from here on in I’ll be watching Celtic and Sevco games … and keeping score right here on this site to see if this “evening out” actually takes place.

Before we start, there are a number of ground rules we need to establish. This can’t be done on the basis of simple innuendo. I can’t sit down in front of the computer and say “such and such was a dreadful decision and therefore that’s going on the record.” No, in order to make the cut we have to make a few simple to follow regulations governing what we include.

First, it has to be a decision with the potential to materially affect the outcome of the match.

That means if a team is 4-0 up and gets a dubious penalty it’s not going in there, unless – and this is important – unless there’s a significant likelihood of the season finishing on goal difference. If people can make a case for why a certain decision, this early, can be included I’ll take a look at it, but by and large I’m going to leave out any dodgy decision which doesn’t have a material effect on the outcome of the game in which it’s played.

Second, it has to be a decision about which there is a clear dispute, and the way we judge that is if it’s highlighted by one of the media (I know, but listen to big Sutton at the weekend over the Forrester decision; that gets it in) and at least one member of the opposing team management or playing staff. In other words, it can’t just be me sitting watching the telly.

Third, if the decision is overturned, or changed, by the SFA disciplinary committee in a way that negates the original effect, we’ll add or subtract half scores accordingly but only if it re-establishes some form of fairness. Jamie Walker’s dive being punished made no direct difference to Celtic, so it would not have counted towards a reduced score. Had a Celtic defender been red-carded and that red-card was rescinded, then I might have looked at doing so.

Fourth, we need to keep some kind of perspective. A dodgy decision in the first minute of a game that ends in a tight score is a lot different to one where the Honest Mistake happens late on. Then, a red card or penalty can have a clear-cut impact.

Even then, I’ll need to demonstrate that the incident had the potential to materially affect the outcome.

The best way to do this is to split the game into six sections of fifteen minutes in length. The scores with the highest potential will be in the last box, but there’s an argument to be made for Honest Mistakes coming just before half time or just after it … and a red card in the first fifteen minutes has the potential to ruin your day completely.

So let’s see what incidents constitute a potential game-changing Honest Mistake.

A disputed penalty (given or not) in a close fought game.

A disputed red card (given or not) in a close fought game.

Disallowed goals or goals which ought not have stood, or which followed Honest Mistakes; if, for example, a free kick was given the wrong way and it led to a goal, that would count. In a close fought game those decisions can be critical.

Let’s try and work out a simple points system here.

An early dodgy penalty given is worth 7 points.

One given just before half time is worth 9 points.

As is one given just after the break.

A late dodgy penalty given is worth 15 points.

One given in the two “middle sections” is worth 8 points in the first half and ten in the second.

An early dodgy penalty not given is worth 5 points.

One not given just before half time is worth 7 points.

As is one that comes just after the break.

A late dodgy penalty not given is worth 10 points.

As above, a dodgy penalty not given in the middle sections is worth 6 points.

An early, suspect, red card is worth 12 points.

One given just before half time is worth 8 points.

As is one after the break.

A dodgy red card late in the game is worth 12 points if it changed the outcome (i.e. a team lost a match because of it) and 9 points if it could have. (Usually in the case of a team trying to get a late goal.)

In the middle sections of the game we’ll say that’s worth 10 points in the first half and 8 in the second.

The reason we give a higher scores for the early game than we do for a late decision is that the longer a team plays with ten men the greater the likelihood of it having an effect. Which is why an early red card is worth more than anything except a late penalty.

Award half those red card scores for a dodgy decision which doesn’t result in a red card … except in two instances. If the player is a central defender the scores all get 1 point extra. If it’s a goalkeeper make that 3 points extra. If it’s a high profile player 2 points extra.

On top of that, if the ref simply allows one team to kick the other all over the pitch and doesn’t produce cards, or he produces a large number against one team, inexplicably, whilst ignoring the other … and in keeping the criteria already laid out that this is supported by facts and is commented on by the media or players and coaches at the team affected … 5 points.

Also, add 3 points to the overall score for an away tie and 1 point for a home one; we have to consider that home advantage can help negate some of these effects.

In a game with a dodgy goal or decision not to award one, we’ll take it on a case by case basis but my inclination is to treat that like a penalty.

And where do the points go?

Well, they go to whichever team, Celtic or Sevco, benefited from that decision.

A dodgy late penalty against Celtic, or for them, sees the points go to Sevco. You get the drift.

Oh yes … and one other thing; add five to every single one of those scores in a game between the two clubs and ten in a cup match or game where the gap in the league is within six points.

All of these scores, I’m up for negotiating on if someone can make a good case.

Let me know what your thoughts are, but they give us something to work with.

As we’ve already had two weeks of the season and two lamentable refereeing decisions I’m going to start this right away. The penalty given against Celtic at Tynecastle was atrocious. So too was Craig Thomson’s decision not to send off Harry Forrester at the weekend.

Jamie Walker’s penalty was awarded in the 36th minute. That puts him inside the last quarter of the first half. So we’re giving Sevco 8 points for that, because it could certainly have materially affected the match’s outcome. Had Sinclair not scored we’d have dropped 2 points. I’m not even going to be a good sport and knock anything off the score because the ref has admitted he made a mistake; that would have been scant comfort to us had we not won the match.

Harry Forrester should have been sent off several times in the second half of Sevco’s match with Dundee. He stayed on the park by a minor miracle, and some of the dodgiest officiating you’re likely to see. His final foul, the one where the ref started making “Please sub him now” eyes at the Sevco technical area came in 66 minutes; he was off 3 minutes later. That’s worth a 4 point score, as the game ended in a single goal win and that might well have materially changed the outcome.

So, after two weeks Sevco has a 12-0 lead over us already.

But that’ll “even itself out” right?

We’ll see, and we’ll be keeping score.

In Brendan We Trust.

(This article has been amended to correct Harry Forrester’s score and the overall score. Don’t want to be accused of cheating!)

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