THE MSP for Hampden Park, the SNP’s James Dornan, has renewed his call for strict liability rules to be imposed on Scotland’s football clubs.
The Cathcart MSP says he does not expect the Scottish Football Association or Scottish Professional Football League, both based at Hampden in his Cathcart constituency, to welcome his Bill on strict liability that is currently before the Scottish Parliament, but he has asked the public to give their views in the consultation process that ends on March 17.
Strict liability would mean that clubs would be entirely responsible for the behaviour of their fans and it would be clubs who would face punishment, including fines or points deductions, regardless of whether they have made efforts to stamp out fan misbehaviour.
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Dornan said: “Because there was no major trouble at the Old Firm game on Hogmanay, I worry that people may get complacent. Yet football still has a problem that has to be dealt with – and nor is it just sectarian behaviour I am talking about.
“Homophobia, racism, inappropriate language are all problems in Scottish football and in 2017 in Scotland, that’s just not acceptable.
“The football authorities have shown quite clearly they are not willing to deal with problems on their own and clubs just point blank refuse to deal with it. Fans will perhaps only realise that their behaviour has to change if their club gets penalised for their misbehaviour.”
In a sense, strict liability already exists for football clubs, and Dornan points to Fifa’s Disciplinary Code article 67 as proof. It states: “The home association or home club is liable for improper conduct among spectators, regardless of the question of culpable conduct or culpable oversight, and, depending on the situation, may be fined. Further sanctions may be imposed in the case of serious disturbances.”
Yet the SFA or SPFL have rarely imposed sanctions on Scottish clubs for supporter misconduct at domestic matches – no club has ever been fined for sectarian chanting by its supporters.
The European governing body has sanctioned Scottish clubs – particularly Celtic in recent years – for fan misbehaviour which, says Dornan, leads to an “extraordinary situation”.
He said: “If Celtic fans, for instance, misbehave at a European game on a Wednesday night the club will be punished, but if they misbehave at a domestic match on a Saturday the club gets away with it – that cannot be right.”
The National understands that the SPFL and SFA are currently preparing a response to Dornan’s bill.