Omission bias research and refs with grudges


The SFA Head of Refereeing, John Fleming, spoke about the semi-final incident on Sunday, largely to protect his fraternity.  Referee Steven McLean made a huge error but Fleming said “I don’t think there was anyone in the ground who would have thought it was 100% a penalty and sending off until they had seen the replay.”

This flies in the face of the Celtic players who claimed for a penalty on the spot, the raised voices from thousands of Celtic supporters, and the shout from the TV commentator.  Fleming’s assertion is demonstrably untrue.

He is a man in a position of authority at the SFA.  He is allowed to have opinions, or to disagree with any club, but making untrue statements to protect his referees is a wholly inappropriate.  If is the standard referees are held to, no wonder we have problems.  Having asked for clarification on the refereeing error yesterday, I expect Celtic will be even keener on an explanation for Fleming’s incredulous comment.

I’ve linked here to a Stanford University report on Omission Bias in Sports.  The report finds that people are biased to favour inaction (i.e. don’t make a decision) over action (make a decision which will have a profound impact).

It’s an interesting concept which good refereeing guidance will account for.  They found that “For all sports, effect [is]stronger if game is close and weak when score is lopsided”.

Omission bias is what we should be looking for in Scottish football.  Evidence this video of former referee Kenny Clark, who while still officiating SPL games told an audience that he held a grudge against Celtic’s John Hartson and failed to award him a foul which he saw clearly enough to describe in some detail.

Unfortunately, no journalist has ever been able to contact Mr Clark to ask him about his grudges or omission bias.  If this was England, the media would not allow Clark to flaunt omission bias while defending it in others, he would be called to account.

See above, Sunday’s officials greeting each other on the pitch before kick off.  Before the dust settles on this one, some of us better learn a new handshake.  Those wanting real change at the SFA will have to fight for it.

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    I stopped for a pint in Stonehouse once a god few years back,driving back from London.



    Blinkin’ flip. Scary lot,they looked at me as though I only had five fingers on each hand.



    Actually,they did. I had four. And a thumb.



    First stop any time after that was Darvel. Still full of huns,but Ayrshire ones. I can deal wi them.





    You’re sick? I got beat to a podium and it wisnae even Bognorbhoy!

  3. TimJim


    12:39 on


    21 April, 2015





    No many Tims in Larkhall in my younger days, my relatives the Reilly and the McStay s (Paul’s family) being good friends.

  4. Frank McAvennie might have been a good player for us but his comments in the sun r an embarrassment 2 the man. He’s being played

  5. How long before TV companies in Scotland are told just to film above waist, when officials are shaking hands, along with Sevco representatives?



    SFA corrupt to the core along with the SMSM puppets

  6. Fecking hell they say a picture tells (or is it says) a thousand word. That one says dirty cheating Hun Lovers (for want of a better word)

  7. An Tearmann


    12:48 on


    21 April, 2015




    23:56 on


    20 April, 2015


    There is of course the mindset of some that Fergus tippled easily on what Murray and BOS were upto. He decided not to rock the boat as he knew it would blow Scottish fitbaw apart. A risky thing when there’s £35 million at stake.



    There is that mindset. I’ve heard.



    A rancid post detailing a rancid mindset.


    just wrong


    befitting more of FF or any other site than here.


    why not compare him with Saddam.oh wait.



    outa here




  8. thomthethim for Oscar OK on




    12:13 on 21 April, 2015


    Ard Macha,



    Sorry to bother you, but as one who is trying to learn Irish, I always try to translate your posts. Would you mind telling me what is “suaimnheas”?










    It means peacefulness or quietness, or in the vernacular, gie’s peace.

  9. bournesouprecipe on

    Team sheet latest…………………….. Stuart Armstrong and Gary MacKay Steven.



    Now that everybody has calmed down the Celtic football department need to figure out how to win (twice) in Dundee. Celtic ‘frustration’ will be left with the fans, as normal, and it’s ‘a ‘ business as usual.



    Kris Commons and James Forrest are likely to be injured (so is Alek Tonev no me either ) and with poor defensive performances especially at full back ,and inept jaded attacking performances across the side , RD has to regroup for the main prize.



    I hope Ambrose is restored and John Guidetti ahead of Leigh Griffiths who admittedly was one of a good few struggling for muscle on Sunday.

  10. mullet and co 2 on

    Are the SFA member clubs strong enough to request that membership of secret organisations with a history of sectarian membership requirements is no longer conducive with the impartial and transparent dealings that an employee of the SFA or SPFL should have?

  11. I think Celtic’ s request for an explanation could seriously backfire given that this is the SFA. Watch the video, especially at about 15 to 17 seconds;






    Kris Commons will be punished for what must have been a forearm smash on the ICT player, at least judging by the way he went down, or as the SFA might say on the balance of probabilities.



    “Don’t query us again or you’ll get more of the same.”



    Just half-joking.

  12. bournesouprecipe on

    “Tangle free?????? earphones in the garden whilst doing the strimming”



    The conspiracy continues

  13. Snake Plissken on




    Celtic will get a penalty at Dens on Wednesday.



    We’ll then be told these things even themselves out.

  14. jamesgang



    12:54 on 21 April, 2015


    south of tunis






    I know mhate. I’m spending a lot of time studying jamaica at the moment. A profoundly damaged nation. Mainly by the Brits. Especially by the scots I’m afraid.



    HH jamesgang

  15. magbuklod kamelyo on

    dear all, very first (nervous post) i am an incredibly long time poster and often check this site before climbing out of bed. Paul – wonderful as ever – if i tell you i was on twitter last night – i am sure you will know who i am .. :-) i hope that this awful and sadly not predictable issue gets the attention of those that can make a difference. i am not able to make many games, but i would support Celtic in this fight as much as i could.

  16. Kevjungle



    I agree with some of what you say. Less about how you say it.



    You’re continuing clique allegations against Auldheid are out of order. His magnanimity in response say a lot that good about him.



    HH jamesgang

  17. Off mike…..



    ‘There you go Auldheid. Telt him like you asked. See you at the lurge tonight. God save the queen.’






    HH jamesgang

  18. magbuklod kamelyo



    Are you a Hun?


    If not, welcome!






    HH jamesgang

  19. magbuklod kamelyo on

    Thanks, i am certainly not a hun.. Are you allowed to say that these days? I do know one thing.. Back your mortgage on a Labour & SNP coalition..

  20. Stan and Stefan - Sitting doon for Scott Broon on

    The real shame is that the story should be about “wee team beats big team in cup upset” and instead is about the officials.



    Before every major game, I always say that I hope we are not talking about the ref after the game.



    Unfortunately in this case, whilst ICT won through no fault of their own (good save on the line by a defender is still a good save), discussing the incompetence or otherwise of the ref and his assistants is the only story.



    Two days later I’m still raging and still shaking my head in bemusement. I should know better.



    I will be renewing my 3 season tickets because I love to watch my team and like ICT, we did nothing wrong in that game (losing three goals including 2 in injury time isn’t “wrong” it’s a legitimate part of the game).



    But there is no way I will be contributing a penny to the SFA.



    I don’t like the idea of boycotting away games, not that I go to them, because it only serves to hurt teams that I want to be stronger to provide us with stronger opposition. And it doesn’t impact the SFA.

  21. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family on



    Not forgetting the Holtons,Smiths and other friends I have from Larkhall

  22. Snake Plissken





    12:55 on



    21 April, 2015








    Celtic will get a penalty at Dens on Wednesday.



    We’ll then be told these things even themselves out.





    Stick on.



    And it’ll be a dodgy one…

  23. magbuklod kamelyo on

    i think we should seriously look into making the SFA realise that there is no more of this nonsense to stand. I think the club and the fans should have a series of meetings on this and i would propose :-


    Home SFA ties (not that we seem to have any) we attend as per a league game


    Away SFA and Semi Final etc – we refuse tickets and offer a beam-back at Celtic park. Fiver a head and quid for kids providing you bring a food bank donation.


    Chuck in a band etc and take it from there.


    Then the SFA can discuss with TV companies why no Celtic fans are there.

  24. Good leader Paul67,



    What ever the reason the referee made the mistake there is no excuse.



    Missing a blatant penalty is not acceptable.



    Missing a blatant penalty when your 12 yards away and looking straight at the action, in a show piece match demands an explanation.



    You are correct in England this error would be highly scrutinised and rightly so. The referee and in this case probably his boss would apologise.



    Would an apology help?



    Yes! It would show that the match officials care about the standards of officiating and they are concerned with fair play.



    It would give an incentive to the match official to be more diligent about his standard of officiating and more concerned with fair play.



    At it would embarrass his boss and probably incentivise his boss to give the referee some less challenging assignments and explain to him he’d better not be put in that position again.



    It works for all serious mistakes elsewhere.



    The worry is rather than offering an apology you get an implausible excuse. Why the excuse? More to the point why an excuse lacking credibility?



    If you had nothing to hide, you wouldn’t make the excuse you’d make the apology.



    Hail Hail

  25. I understand that our game tomorrow night isn’t on TV, presumably s there are Champions League games on.



    But I was surprised to see that the Livingston v Hibs game is live on BBC Alba.



    So is it just top flight games that can’t be shown in competition to UEFAs baby?

  26. blantyretim is praying for the Knox family



    Times thay are a changing. I mean I am not the only Tim in this wee bigoted village The Plean. There is not many of us, mainly in the private houses.

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