Charity Nil by Mouth says enough is enough after recent high profile incidents of fans misbehaving
An anti-sectarian campaign charity has called for an overhaul of how Scottish football deals with sectarian, racist and offensive behaviour at matches.
Nil by Mouth is calling for Scotland’s governing bodies to introduce a code which would see clubs automatically sanctioned should their fans misbehave.
Currently, as long as clubs can prove they have made the best possible attempt to stop fans misbehaving, they escape punishment.
The vast majority of fans who go to games in Scotland are decent people and are fed up to the back teeth with this behaviour
European football’s governing body UEFA operates the rule, known as strict liability, which the charity wants adopted.
It means regardless of warnings issued to supporters by clubs, if fans misbehave at matches – whether it be offensive chanting, unfurling of offensive banners or the use of smoke bombs and flares – then clubs will be sanctioned.
Sanctions include fines, closure of sections of grounds, playing matches behind closed doors and docking of league points.
Nil by Mouth is calling for the Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish Football Association to include a motion on the code at the game’s AGM in June and for clubs to give season ticket holders and supporters groups a say in which way their team should vote.
The call comes after high profile incidents at Scottish grounds over recent weeks and also follows a report for the Scottish Government in May last year which recommended the model is adopted.
“The vast majority of fans who go to games in Scotland are decent people and are fed up to the back teeth with this behaviour and we want to find a way of ensuring that their voices are heard on this important issue,” Nil by Mouth campaign director Dave Scott said.
“That is why we have written to the SFA and SPFL urging them to put ‘strict liability’ on the agenda for the AGM in June.
“By doing so publicly they give clubs several months to have meaningful dialogue with their fans about what course of action to take. By balloting season ticket holders clubs will be able to represent their fans and customers views directly.
“It would also give the silent majority of fans a voice in a debate too often dominated by offensive and provocative chanting of a baleful minority. This is too big a decision to simply leave to officials and it’s vital that fans are fully engaged in the debate. It’s their game and this can be a chance to help clean it up.”
Scottish clubs have already been sanctioned under strict liability in European matches, which are operated by UEFA but proposals to introduce the code to all Scottish games was rejected by clubs in 2013.
England introduced the measures last year.
Scott added: “UEFA have been operating strict liability successfully for years and by having a genuine debate on these proposals Scottish football has a chance to stand up to be counted and bring the game into the 21st century.
“The choice for clubs is stark – remain part of the problem or be part of the solution.”