A NEW breed of football hooligans, who assemble in gangs known as "firms", are organising violent clashes at games in the UK and across Europe.

The firms are orchestrated by the sons of casuals, who gained notoriety amid violence at matches in recent years.

Strathclyde Police assistant chief constable Kevin Smith, who manages football policing in Scotland, told The Herald how the problem is being tackled.

At the start of the football season, police launched a surveillance operation against hooligans, monitoring and filming them at grounds, city centres, railway stations and airports.

The move came ahead of the introduction of football banning orders (FBOs), which is part of an effort to clamp down on known troublemakers and to stop them travelling across the UK and to games in Europe.

Mr Smith said: "It (hooliganism) is not on the same scale as in England, Germany, Holland or Belgium, but what is clear is that there is a new generation of hooligans emerging.

"Even smaller clubs have problems.

"My fear is that innocent people will get caught up in it and our aim is to intervene before trouble starts, and we do that successfully week after week in Scotland."

Under the terms of FBOs, supporters can be banned from domestic matches and international fixtures for up to 10 years and people can be prevented from travelling abroad when Scottish teams are playing.

The Herald understands that dozens of Scottish casuals plan to travel to the World Cup this summer, despite the fact that Scotland failed to qualify.

In England and Wales 3153 banning orders were issued by last October, and the Home Office said there was no evidence of anyone subject to an FBO attempting to travel to a match overseas.

Mr Smith said: "It is essential to understand that we do not have to increase the number of arrests to use FBOs. We can seek an order if a person has previously contributed to violence, or if there are reasonable grounds that an orderwill help prevent violence. In such cases a sustained intelligence gathering exercise is key to success."

Hooliganism experts recently held a summit in Scotland at Strathclyde Police's training centre, near East Kilbride, to discuss methods of policing firms which organise fights with each other miles from football grounds or even in different towns and cities from where teams are playing.

A number of Scottish football clubs, including Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibernian and Hearts, said casuals were not football fans and that anyone caught engaging in violent acts would be banned from games for life.

A spokesman for Rangers said: "We have been pleased to monitor the development of banning orders in Scotland and constructively contributed to the Scottish Executive's consultation process."

He added: "Rangers has issued bans in respect of 187 supporters who have behaved inappropriately.

"However, the introduction of banning orders in Scotland would be a powerful tool in ensuring that the movements of those whom the police, courts and football security personnel see as a serious threat are curtailed."

The rise in violence and the thugs who lie behind it


Inter City Firm - It attaches itself to Rangers and members have been imprisoned for offences.

ICF has links to other groups across the UK, including the Chelsea Headhunters and West Ham hooligans. It also has connections to far right political parties, such as the British National Party and the National Front.

Aberdeen Soccer Casuals/ Under 5s - This group has followed Aberdeen for more than 20 years and has been involved in serious disorder all over Europe.

It has links with English firms such as Tottenham's N17s and the Yiddos, and Leeds United's Service Crew. The Under 5s are ASC's new generation of hooligans.

Capital City Service/Baby Crew -This group follows Hibernian and has also been involved in many violent incidents.

It has links with Oldham Athletic and Manchester United thugs. A number of the members of this firm are sons of casuals who have previous convictions.

Dundee Utility - This group is unique, in that supporters of two rival clubs (Dundee and Dundee United) join together to engage in violence.

Its members have been involved in disorder across Europe and there are links with Stoke City and Birmingham City hooligans. The utility has its own website with nearly 300 registered members.

Casual Soccer Firm - Its members follow Hearts and have links with far right political parties.

A number of other football clubs including Celtic (Celtic Soccer Crew) , Motherwell (Saturday Service), Airdrie (Section B), Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock, St Johnstone (Fair City Firm), St Mirren (Love Street Division) and Morton (Morton Youth) have had problems with hooligan firms.


December 2005 - Hibs casuals hurl bottles, metal sticks and bins at the Motherwell bus outside Easter Road.

November 2005 - A group of the Inter City Firm is intercepted before Rangers play Celtic.

October 2005 - Five Dundee Utility casuals are sent to prison after throwing bricks and bottles in Glasgow city centre during a riot.

November 2004 - The Locomotiv Bar in Glasgow is attacked by around 100 casuals after an Old Firm game.

October 2003 - 26 men appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court in connection with a series of incidents involving casuals at Rangers' Champions League match against Manchester United at Ibrox.