Hell hath no fury like a linesman scorned. Like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the trigger for the outbreak of the First World War, the character assassination of Steven Craven, strictly in a theatrical sense of course, appears to have caused an outbreak of civil unrest within the endlessly debatable empire of the Scottish Football Association.
This could yet be the precursor to some unheralded civil action and several prominent figures within the auspices of Hampden Park falling on their swords. Not quite sex, lies and videotape, but lies and video evidence strike at the heart of what has become a juicy little hotchpotch of claim and counterclaim.
Craven is clearly a wounded assistant referee from the grizzly and well-aired happenings amid a match between Dundee United and Celtic in the Scottish Premier League a fortnight ago. He has not gone quietly into the night after resigning his position from what he depicts as a caustic atmosphere. Upon initial inspection, others may yet join him in the doghouse.
Allegations of collusion, lies, cover-ups and bullying bring considerable heat to some fetching figures a day after British Summer Time officially ended. Harsh times in particular would seem to lie ahead for Hugh Dallas, the head of referee development at the SFA, and the country's most illuminated official, Dougie McDonald (pictured).
McDonald is the soiled referee who has confessed to telling a lie to Celtic manager Neil Lennon after awarding the Glasgow side a penalty against United before rescinding his decision moments later. A white lie maybe, but a lie nonetheless.
When McDonald consulted Craven before changing his mind about the legality of the Dundee United goalkeeper Dusan Pernis's challenge on Gary Hooper at Tannadice, a match won 2-1 by the visiting side, he set in motion a chain reaction that reached some sort of head yesterday. The embers are unlikely to fizzle out for some time yet.
Craven went public with his feelings in Scotland's diet of Sunday tabloids, a questionable enough forum one would imagine to unload such thoughts, but a decision in keeping with the bad taste of this evolving situation.
Craven is unhappy that he was perceived to have changed McDonald's mind when the referee had already decided he had got the decision wrong with Pernis deemed to have played ball before man.
"Dougie ran towards me and said: 'I think I've f***** up," said Craven in quotes attributed to him. "After the game Dougie said we should tell the referee supervisor that I called him over to question the penalty award.
"I went along with it because I wanted to be supportive of Dougie. But then Neil Lennon came in after the game and asked Dougie why he hadn't given the penalty kick.
"We told Neil the version that was a lie. It was wrong to lie. And I'm not proud that I went along with Dougie's suggestion."
More worrying is the allegations made by Craven that Dallas is a cover-up artist. Craven claims he was encouraged to stick to the party line by Dallas, so to speak, rather than give a truthful account of events.
This may not make for Pulitzer prize-winning material, but it feels as melodramatic as the Days of our Lives. Craven went on: "When Hugh called he asked me to talk over the penalty. He said: 'So what happened after you called out for Dougie to come over? You called out 'Dougie! Dougie! Dougie!'
"I told him that was not the case. I told Hugh he now knew the truth. The truth was the version Dougie had told him over the phone.
"But Hugh repeated, 'What are you talking about — you said 'Dougie! Dougie! Dougie!' and called him over' but I told Dallas I did no such thing.
"Dougie came clean and so did I, but Hughie didn't seem to accept that."
Hugh Dallas touched the summit of the game when he was named fourth official for the 2002 World Cup final in Japan and South Korea, but has suddenly reached his nadir.
Dallas is apparently seeking legal advice with Craven adding the caveat that he was ready to resign before Tannadice because of alleged "bullying" by Dallas and claims of harassment within the SFA. Both may yet have their day in court.
Dallas was once left bloodied when he was cracked with a coin as Rangers snagged the SPL title with a 3-0 win at Celtic Park in 1999, but he forged sturdy enough relations with the Celtic captain Tom Boyd to referee his testimonial match with Manchester United a couple of years later.
McDonald has apologised today and is focused on officiating another match at Celtic Park.
In the court of public opinion, Dallas and McDonald face a seismic fight to stay alive as justifiable characters in whistling straits because of what Craven has inferred, whether or not he is of sound judgement.
To those outside of the parish of Scottish football, this may seem like an arduous saga, but then the battle to convince some sections of the country that the SFA is not bent is hardly helped by such revelations. Celtic's followers have always been highly suspicious of the SFA's motives, however unbelievable that may seem to those outside of the arena.
Tannadice was the smoking gun for the mother of all debates. Is Elvis alive? Did man walk on the moon? Did fabled referee Tom 'Tiny' Wharton once perform a masonic handshake in public with the Rangers captain John Greig? Is there an agenda against Celtic?
There are plenty more. You couldn't make up some of the stuff that is trotted out by those on the edge of the debate, but this will not assuage characters suffering from a curious case of paranoia.
McDonald's claims that the right decision was reached at Tannadice are irrelevant. The question Celtic, and other clubs it should be acknowledged, will be asking the SFA is quite a natural one: if referees are prepared to fabricate stories at the behest of their superiors then in what other areas are they prepared to make dishonest decisions?
Without honesty, the game is well and truly up for football in Scotland. No matter how innocuous it may seem to some, these are dangerous times for the moral fibre of the country's national sport.
One would be wrong to suggest that there is an agenda against Celtic because of the Tannadice tinderbox, but Lennon should hardly be demonised for questioning the reasons behind such decisions.
As the Hearts manager Jim Jefferies suggested last week, Lennon is hardly out of order to seek clarity. He is only acting in what he feels are the best interests of his club.
The cliques and committees within the SFA are already the stuff of legend, but the self-preservation society may yet take a huge tumble after all this is played out. The governing body's new chief executive Stewart Regan is hardly out of the woods after stating that he is Dallas's 'line manager'.
Lennon's decorum and celebrations during the match at Tannadice are being scrutinised, but when managers's jobs are on the line, especially in the cut-throat nature of SPL when only two clubs joust annually for the top prize, behaviour can become erratic.
The Rangers manager Walter Smith carries himself mightily impressively, but got dragged into this somewhat erosive climate of suspicion when he questioned the integrity of a linesman for disallowing a Kris Boyd goal in a 0-0 draw at Motherwell a couple of years ago. He pointed out the same figure had allowed an offside goal by the Celtic striker Scott McDonald to stand in an Old Firm match.
Decisions go against Rangers and Celtic, and they go against other clubs week in, week out. Gardner Speirs, the manager of Queen's Park, one of Glasgow's smaller clubs, recently debated a "strange" decision made by the referee that proved pivotal in losing a goal in his team's 2-1 loss to Bo'ness United in the Scottish Cup. Poor calls are not the sole preserve of the privileged.
Rangers are already unhappy with the SFA over the decision to punish Allan McGregor with a one-match ban last month brought about by figures who are not seen and not heard. Referee Willie Collum, a figure of much derision after last week's Old Firm match, had missed the incident involving the goalkeeper and an Aberdeen player.
Former referees judge the performance of referees, which does seem not seem the correct procedure in staving off allegations of jobs for the boys. There must surely be a need for greater speed, accountability and transparency in concluding matters.
"Referees need to come out after the game and comment and explain their decisions," said the Hearts sporting director Sergejus Fedotovas. "There is no place for a high proportion of human error meaning low standards. It can easily be a cover for bias and match fixing."
It is ironic that all this has been played out on a weekend in the English Premier League when Harry Redknapp lamented Mark Clattenburg's decision to allowed Nani's goal to stand in Manchester United's 2-0 win over Tottenham on Saturday.
"He's a good referee normally, but what will happen now is they will all go into a room and they will come up with a story," commented the Spurs manager.
A bit like what has gone on in Scotland. The conspiracy theorists will depressingly have a field day in the weeks ahead, but who can blame them when the lunatics appear to be running the asylum, and the needles have fallen off the moral compass.