The latest criticism came from Dundee United, who felt that defender Gavin Gunning had been unfairly singled out when he received a three-game ban on the back of television evidence that showed him aiming a kick at Celtic's Virgil van Dijk. The Tannadice club initially banned both the BBC and STV from their training ground, despite the fact that the incident had been shown live on Sky Sports by the time both terrestrial broadcasters used it in their highlights package. The ban was soon overturned.
John Rankin, the chairman of PFA Scotland, took up the case on his United team-mate's behalf last week, revealing that he had received numerous gripes about the system and, in particular, the role of compliance officer Vincent Lunny. Rankin felt the process would be fairer towards players if the SFA were to include former professionals among the experts who make up their three-person disciplinary panel. "It's difficult when you've got people judging you who never played the game," said Rankin. "Whether it's an old ex-pro or one just retired, we need someone who can put across a player's point of view."
Yesterday, the SFA offered their response. Chief executive Stewart Regan was at Hampden primarily for the announcement of a new sponsorship deal for the Lowland League but took the chance to get a few other things off his chest, including defending a system that Rankin felt needed a major overhaul.
"In football across the world, dealing with disciplinary issues relies on evidence and the best form of evidence for a panel to consider is television evidence," Regan said. "The same evidence is used by clubs to overturn red cards for wrongful dismissal. What the Scottish FA have done is introduce a new process with independent panellists - at the request of our members - to do several things including speeding up the process, to provide a degree of independence and to have it as much more evidence-based using a qualified lawyer as compliance officer. There will always be those who challenge the process because they don't like the decision but, at the end of the day, the use of evidence has not changed since the launch of the Premier League in Scotland and in other parts of the world. There's no requirement, in my opinion, to change the process."
The idea that top-tier clubs are more likely to be punished because a greater number of their matches are televised was also shot down as a myth. "Clearly television is a key source of evidence but we have a whole raft of offences that are brought to us. In fact around 75% of the cases considered are outside the top tier. So we don't always have the same degree of evidence you get from television. If there's a case to answer, Vincent sends a complaint and depending on the response he decides whether the case goes to a judicial panel. If that happens, Vincent's role is simply to present the facts and to get the panellists to consider the evidence before they decide whether an offence has been committed and whether a sanction is warranted.
"That how many disciplinary processes are managed but ours is quicker, more transparent and independent than many around Europe. Huge strides have been made to put in place something that member clubs wanted."
Regan also batted the idea of former players becoming part of the process back into the court of the players' union. "In April, June and July of this year we wrote to PFA Scotland asking them to nominate ex-players, which is something they have asked for since the panel was launched in 2011. At this moment in time they have failed to come back with any nominations. So it's quite disappointing to hear comments that the panel could be improved by having former players on it when it's something we've been asking for for well in excess of 18 months."
The recent case of Ian Black, the Rangers midfielder who admitted betting on 160 games, including three on his then-club not to win, has placed the topic of gambling in football under the spotlight. The independent tribunal's decision to award the player an effective three-game ban and a £7500 fine was thought lenient by some but Regan feels it shows anyone breaking the rules would be dealt with.
"This is the first case we have had evidence from different sources that proved Ian Black had bet on football and, indeed, had bet against his club. That's why the case was presented to the judicial panel and that's why the sanction was put in place. You can argue whether you think it was too lenient, or whether it didn't go far enough or set the right tone, but it's an independent process. The panel considered the facts, the information available in the public domain and they came up with the sanction.
"We are simply implementing the process. From a positive point of view, it sent a clear message that betting is not something that we're prepared to tolerate."