ANOTHER day, another controversial refereeing performance in Scotland. Last night’s Scottish Cup replay at Ibrox was typically eventful and once again the result is the referee is getting a lot of unwanted attention once he had blown the final whistle.

Alan Muir decided not to award Kilmarnock a penalty in the opening exchanges when Eamonn Brophy went down following a challenge from Joe Worrall, before the referee sent the visitors’ goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann off with just 25 minutes played.

The decision prompted fury from Rugby Park boss Steve Clarke in his post-match interview, who branded the sending off a “joke”. Clarke said: “The goalie just lifted his arms - every goalie does it every week. It’s embarrassing. I’m talking in general. Bad decisions. All we talk about is our refs. How can I talk about football tonight?”

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The club have since announced that they are appealing the decision and the standard of officiating in Scotland has once again taken centre stage, despite the phenomenal goalscoring exploits of Alfredo Morelos last night. It speaks volumes about Scottish football’s obsession with officiating at the moment that a player can score four goals, yet a couple of controversial refereeing decisions are the main talking points from the match.

With referees under more scrutiny than ever before, fans, coaches and pundits alike analyse every major decision with a greater degree of scepticism than we have previously became accustomed to. With eyes fixed on referees now more than other, it begs the question: has there actually been a significant drop-off in the standard of refereeing this season?

The broad consensus appears to be that yes, the standard has fallen. But data from this season and the last suggests that referee’s behaviour, at least, has seemingly remained constant.

The table above demonstrates the rate at which each Premiership referee has dished out yellow and red cards and awarded penalties for each match that they have officiated. Now, clearly, these figures do not suggest whether or not a card or penalty decision was correct and cannot indicate whether or not a referee made the right call. But these numbers do tell us which referees are showing more cards than last season, and how many penalties are being awarded on average.

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As we can see, there are a couple of interesting points to note here. Andrew Dallas, for example, is twice as likely to award a penalty this season compared to the 2017/18 campaign. Alan Muir, on the other hand, has awarded half as many in the league. Bobby Madden’s red card rate has more than doubled this season, while Willie Collum is showing significantly fewer reds.

Kevin Clancy is more likely than any other referee to send a player off this season - Clancy’s red card rate is more than double that of the second-most card happy ref, Willie Collum, for example.

We can also see that - no surprise here - Andrew Dallas awards more penalties on average than any other Premiership official, while Don Robertson is by the far the least likely ref to point to the spot.

We can then compare the total number of cards shown or penalties awarded by each referee on average to discover if there has been any change in the number of big decisions that referees are making each season. Somewhat surprisingly, it appears that officials are making the same number of key decisions this year as they were last season. Again, these numbers do not represent whether or not a call was correct, only if a call was made in the first instance.

READ MORE: Steve Clarke: Rangers fans' sectarian chanting belongs to the dark ages and match officials cost Kilmarnock the tie

Combined, the Premiership’s referees were showing 44.58 yellow cards per 90 minutes last season; this season, that figure is 44.67. Similarly, the cumulative red cards per 90 minutes for the 2017/18 season was 1.03, and has increased marginally to 1.05 this season. In terms of penalties, there has been a slight reduction this campiagn, from 2.93 last year to 2.84 this season.

Referees this season are marginally more likely to book or send a player off, and there has been a very slight drop-off in the number of penalties awarded on average. This tells us that even under the intense scrutiny that refs have faced over the last few months, they are - generally speaking - making the same number of decisions as they did last season. Whether or not they are correct or consistent is another matter entirely; but to be fair to the whistlers, they have not been over-asserting their authority or shrinking away from making big calls. The problem, it seems, is simply getting them right.