MOVES are underway to create new legislation requiring Scotland’s senior football clubs to be held responsible for the behaviour of their supporters.

The Scottish Parliament will be asked to support new laws around ‘strict liability’, where clubs face a sliding scale of sanctions for fan misdemeanours and based on models used by the sport's European and English governing bodies.

SNP MSP James Dornan will launch the bid in the coming weeks, with a consultation of supporters, clubs, football and civic authorities and the wider public before preparing a private parliamentary bill.

The Herald understands the proposals, which could become law in little over a year if passed, have the support of senior figures within the Scottish Government.

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Campaigners have also said strict liability legislation could supplant the controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football Act in addressing fan issues.

It comes on the back of Justice Secretary Michael Matheson’s ultimatum to Scottish football bosses in June, where he told the SFA’s agm the government could step in to tackle crowd disorder.


A week after a string of incidents at the first Old Firm league clash in four years and amid further arrests for the Scottish Cup Final disorder, the plans also come ahead of the submissions of proposals to the Government by senior clubs of their own ideas around taking increasing responsibility for fan behaviour.

But the plans could potentially hit some turbulence with the sport's world governing body, FIFA, which opposes government interference within football, or if opposition parties gear their efforts solely to repealing the Offensive Behaviour Act.

Mr Dornan, a self-proclaimed Celtic fan who represents Cathcart in Glasgow, said clubs were "happy to quickly condemn fans from other clubs yet turn a blind eye to the behaviour of their own".

He said: "Strict liability is not unusual, it’s already been put in place by UEFA and by FA but it appears that the clubs in Scotland don’t believe it should apply to them.

"Other ‘places of entertainment’ are responsible for patrons behaviour, why should Scottish football be any different?

"Saturday was just a reminder of the ugliness that still exists in some part of Scottish football and its time for clubs to accept responsibility for their actions and work together with the rest of society to make Scottish football and Scotland a safer and better place."

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Used by UEFA in European competitions, it has punished clubs with financial penalties but also partial closure of stadia.

In Scotland, clubs are required only to prove they had taken sufficient preventative measures to discourage sectarian, racist or other offensive behaviour. Celtic's chief executive Peter Lawwell recently described the concept as "very strict", adding it could "go against justice rather than to support justice".


The SPFL, which runs Scotland's leagues, announced at its agm in January that it opposed strict liability but said it would introduce measures to tighten up expectations of clubs and fan behaviour.

Meanwhile the SFA, the governing body, has expressed support but its proposals were voted down by its member clubs in 2013.

Long-term champions of strict liability, the anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth, said Mr Dornan's plans were "a real opportunity to build a consensus for genuine change in... a 'no liability' culture".

Campaign director Dave Scott said: "Given the millions of pounds of public money the game benefits from every year MSPs have a moral responsibility to ensure that higher standards prevail.

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"There are those in Scottish football who genuinely desire change but have found themselves frustrated by the game's archaic and opaque voting systems. This bill has the potential to bypass this perineal road block and see strict liability properly considered and hopefully introduced.


"The Offensive Behaviour Act has been highly controversial but we would hope both its supporters and opponents can see the potential in these proposals for creating the real sea change in attitudes both claim they want to see."

Mr Dornan's plans require the support of 18 MSPs from across three political parties before it is permitted to proceed as a bill.