EVEN the dogs in the street, so said the statement from Inverness following their failed appeal over James Keatings’ red card, knew the decision was wrong. And it is clear to everyone with even a rudimentary grasp of the laws of football that the outcome was indeed barking.

“Woof!” you might even have said upon hearing the news, channelling your inner Archie MacPherson.

Caley Thistle striker Keatings, in case you missed it, received a second yellow card from referee Greg Aitken for simulation in the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer Cup semi-final against Rangers Colts.

With the game being shown live on BBC Alba, footage soon emerged that clearly showed the decision to have been incorrect, with contact made between Keatings and Ciaran Dickson, sending the forward to the ground.

Referees make mistakes. They are human, and while the incident occurred just a few yards away from the official, the speed at which the players were moving would make it understandable – if frustrating for Keatings – if he mistakenly thought the player had dived.

Aitken himself later outlined, according to that brilliantly pitched Inverness statement, that “from his angle, he believed there had been no contact made by the defender on James and this led him to believe that James had thrown himself to the ground in an attempt to deceive him, therefore he deemed it to be an act of simulation, hence the decision.”

Time was, the referee would have been able to offer his own retrospective opinion on such incidents, effectively clearing players after reviewing footage and holding their hands up to their error. Now, they are only asked for the reasoning behind why they arrived at that decision, not if they feel they have made a pig's ear of it.

Thankfully, on the pitch, Inverness didn't suffer double punishment, as they saw out a 2-1 victory to progress to the final. Surely, having watched the footage back, the mistake would not then be compounded by upholding the decision and denying Keatings the chance to play in a national cup final? Would it?

Inverness were clearly confident, parting with the cash required to appeal the decision in the sure knowledge that the dismissal would be overturned. Now they are £500 out of pocket and weakened for the final.

The reaction from across Scottish football when the farcical ruling then landed said it all.

It takes a lot to unite the polarised factions of our game, but hats off to the SFA. At times, they can bring the country together as a homogenous, scornful brotherhood.

Such was the unanimity of opinion on the panel's bungling deliberation , that even referee Aitken probably couldn’t wrap his head around it. He himself stated that he wrongly thought there had been no contact between the players. It is indisputable that contact occurred, so quite how the red card was then upheld is anyone’s guess.

Only three people know for sure. And those are the three individuals who made up the panel. Given that Scottish football has a sizeable lunatic fringe, it is perfectly understandable why the identity of the 100 or so candidates the SFA choose from for such panels remains anonymous.

What is harder to fathom is how exactly the SFA comes to draw from a pool that includes many people who may never been involved in the game at any level. It isn’t quite butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers, but what exactly is the criteria for being on there?

If one good thing comes from this incident, cold comfort as it will be to Keatings, is that the spotlight has now been turned on a judicial process that is clearly inadequate. The clubs, and those in charge of them, are smelling blood in the water, and it is compliance officer Clare Whyte who may soon need a bigger boat.

Stewart Robertson, managing director of Rangers, launched his own broadside, saying the disciplinary process has “severe flaws” and that there is “no natural justice” within it.

Alan Burrows of Motherwell and Leann Dempster of Hibernian took to Twitter, backing up Caley counterpart Scot Gardiner and chairman Ross Morrison not only in regards to the specific Keatings incident, but in their final clarion call for root and branch reform of the whole disciplinary system.

“If it is not addressed, we are all responsible for the continuing denigration of our standards, our supporters view of the national game and sporting integrity in Scottish football,” read the withering denouement. And it is hard to argue.

The concerns expressed privately between clubs and the governing body are now out in the open. The only way the SFA can resist the groundswell of public opinion backing up the sentiments of the clubs is by bringing their own decision-making process into the open too. The identity of the participants in the disciplinary panel should remain confidential, but it is wholly reasonable to enquire as to how the SFA comes to select them, and in turn, how they arrive at their conclusions.

The SFA will argue that clubs have had a say in the Judicial Panel Protocol, but the disgruntlement that has been building against the entire process has now burst the dyke.

The role of Whyte, as previously stated by SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell, is not to decide what action is taken on any incident, but “to simply refer unseen incidents for consideration.” A question that is increasingly being asked behind the scenes though is just how far-reaching her influence extends, and subsequently, how independent these disciplinary panels really are.

The perception of Whyte’s role that the SFA describe is seemingly different to the perception within boardrooms. While the judiciary panel can vote whichever way they so choose, it is a commonly held belief within clubs – rightly or wrongly - that the compliance officer’s opinion holds considerable sway, and that if she is on the other side of the argument, then you have little chance of success.

If the SFA truly is a member’s organisation as they like to parrot whenever such criticism is levelled at them – a notion that Hibs CEO Dempster says almost makes her cough up her liver from laughing – then perhaps they should go back and listen again to their stakeholders on how things can be improved.