Assaulting a match official is the most serious offence you can commit on a football field.
It regularly carries a prison sentence, and five years ago an American referee actually died after being felled by a single punch from a player in Detroit.
Marty Magee certainly knew he was in big trouble after being accused of headbutting an assistant referee during an Irish League match at Carrick Rangers' Taylor's Avenue ground.
The Portadown striker protested his innocence but the alleged victim, Andy Marno, maintained he was guilty.
What does the governing body do in such a situation?
For us neutral observers at the time, it was relatively straightforward; if Magee was proved to be the perpetrator of such a heinous offence, he should never kick another ball in the domestic game. Sine die, as they say in Irish FA committee rooms.
If not... well, if you're not guilty then you're innocent, right? It's a fundamental binary concept.
But this is the IFA and nothing is ever that straightforward.
The eventual upshot: Magee was banned for the rest of the season - for something that no one could prove actually happened.
There were no TV cameras at the game, and no witnesses came forward to either corroborate or disprove the allegation. But a football association has to be seen to back its match officials, Magee was punished - and Portadown manager Ronnie McFall nearly choked on the fudge.
"I can't believe this," he said.
"If Marty was found guilty, we'd have to accept the punishment, but he wasn't and now we're STILL losing him for six months. It this was a court of law, he'd have walked free."
Big Ronnie's right. If this was M'lud adjudicating in the Laganside chambers, "he probably did it, your honour", or "we'll just take one guy's word over the other" simply wouldn't have cut it.
But the suits at IFA HQ, bereft of the wisdom of Solomon, weren't beholden either to the concept of "beyond all reasonable doubt", nor party to the time-honoured Scottish fudge/verdict of "not proven."
That was three decades ago, but McFall's exasperated incredulity came to mind last week when Jose Mourinho expressed similar sentiments after Manchester City had their two-year ban from Uefa competition quashed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).
Uefa had found City guilty of breaching its Financial Fair Play rules by disguising millions of pounds in equity funding as sponsorship revenue. Cas overturned that punishment, but found that City had obstructed Uefa's investigation, thus fining them £9m.
And Mourinho, who never misses an opportunity to have a pop at former Barcelona 'pal' Pep Guardiola, made no attempt to disguise his sarcasm when he said: "If City are not guilty, they should not be punished with a fine. If they are guilty, they should be banned from the competition. Either way, it's a disgraceful decision."
Like Big Ronnie, the Tottenham manager has a point.
I'll not bore you with the intricacies but, effectively, Guardiola's City got off on a technicality because some of the most serious alleged offences occurred outside a five-year statute of limitations or were, to use Cas's description, "time-barred."
Ergo, these alleged offences - which came to light after leaked documents appeared to show City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan subsidising the sponsorship by Abu Dhabi airline Etihad - should not have been taken into account by Uefa when they meted out their original punishment in January.
(Article 37 in Uefa's Club Financial Control Body's handbook states that "prosecution is barred after five years for all breaches of the Uefa licensing and FFP regulations.")
But just because City's case was overruled doesn't mean they were squeaky clean, and what got to me and others was the puny fine for what amounted to blatant disrespect for the governing body; contempt of court, if you will.
In 'real life' you'd go to jail for this.
In City's case, such a crass misdemeanour was surely worthy of a lengthy ban, rather than none at all. Instead, the four-times Premier League champions - whose revenues last year amounted to £535m - were given the proverbial slap on the wrist.
This contentious ruling won't, as some commentators have suggested, bring an end to FFP.
Rest assured that other clubs - or rather the ones which don't have the multi-billionaire Abu Dhabi ruling family backing them - will still be severely punished for spending more than they earn.
And the Cas ruling merely proves that the Irish FA aren't the only ones who can serve up a classic football fudge.
The IFA one wasn't sweet for Marty Magee's career but what happened next is both ironic and the stuff of legend.
McFall brought in Steve Cowan to fill the gap left by Magee - and the Scot turned out to be one of the most prolific, charismatic forwards the Irish League has ever seen.
This was Big Ronnie's equivalent of Fergie signing Cantona, and by the time Magee was eligible to play again, Portadown had been crowned champions for the first time.
The following year, they retained the title in emphatic fashion and added a derby day Irish Cup win over Glenavon into the mix for good measure.
With that in mind, get your money on Manchester City to win the Champions League this year...