Scottish football fans are up in arms over a controversial proposal to change rules on buses to away games.

A public consultation has been launched over a series of new guidelines which would govern travel, sparking immediate condemnation from supporters' groups.

Here's what you need to know, explained in five minutes.

What is the consultation?

It goes under the straightforward, if not exactly catchy, 'Guidelines for taking passengers to sporting events in Scotland'.

It's being put forward by Richard Turfitt, the Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain on the UK Government and it would see the rules around public service vehicles (PSVs) - that's supporters' buses to you and I - brought in line with 'voluntary' rules in England and Wales.

Read More: Fans and MSPs react with fury at 'draconian' UK government rules on away fans

What is being proposed?

In England and Wales, those operating supporters' buses have adhered to a "voluntary code of practice", in which they "meet certain guidelines set by the police".

In practice these are a series of restrictions put on football fans who are travelling to away matches, or travelling from elsewhere for home matches.

The guidelines are not in place north of the border, and if the proposal is adopted there would be some serious changes for Scottish football fans travelling to away games.

Under the proposed rules:

  • Anyone running a bus would have to have to inform a 'dedicated football officer' or DFO 48 hours before the match of the number of supporters expected to travel, the number of vehicles booked, the name and the contact number for the person who made the booking
  • Buses would not be allowed to stop within 10 miles of the stadium before or after the match without permission
  • Buses would be banned from stopping at pubs unless alcohol is "sold ancillary to a substantial meal", and permission would have to be sought from the DFO
  • Buses would have to arrive at the stadium "no earlier than two hours before and not later than one hour before the scheduled start of the game".
  • Permission would have to be sought from police to pick up passengers at stops on the route
  • Buses would be required to leave the stadium within 30 minutes of the end of the match
  • Those running the bus would be required to inform the DFO of "any chanting demonstrating hostility based on race, ethnicity religion or beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, and transgender identity or chanting of an otherwise grossly offensive or inflammatory nature" which happened on the journey.
  • Voluntary searches could be in place for things like alcohol and pyrotechnics.

I'm not a football fan, explain to me how this would change things?

Let's say you're a Kilmarnock fan and you're travelling on a supporters bus to Aberdeen.

You might arrange to stop in Stonehaven on the way for a couple of pints to watch the early kick-off in the Scottish Premiership or English Premier League.

The Herald: Kilmarnock fans celebrate their recent win over Celtic

Under the proposals this would only be allowed with prior permission and if alcohol is sold with a "substantial meal".

Alternatively, you might visit a pub in the city centre en route to Pittodrie stadium - this would not be allowed unless permission was granted.

The stuff about not having pyrotechnics or alcohol seems fair enough...

The Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 already prohibits alcohol and the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act 2022 does the same for pyro.

Read More: SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn hits out at controversial proposals for football

The proposal mentions 'sporting events' does it include other sports?

No, only football.

Only events covered under the Sports Grounds and Sporting Events (Designation) (Scotland) Order 2014/5 would be included and only football has been included in this.

The Herald: 08/04/17 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP. PATRICK THISTLE v MOTHERWELL. FIRHILL - GLASGOW. Partick Thistle fans at full time.

What has been the reaction from football fans?

By and large they're not happy.

Many would say they're already unfairly demonised - you can consume alcohol on the way to a rugby match or a concert and, unlike in England and Wales, they're banned from consuming alcohol inside a stadium.

The move has also been criticised by the SNP's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn who called it "unworkable, unmanageable, unenforceable".

What are they consulting on?

Whether the guidelines are:

A) proportionate and appropriate to introduce for games within Scotland

B) require amendment to reflect a particular position or issue in Scotland

How can I make my views known?

You can email or write to:

Mark Richardson
Policy and Business Support Officer
Traffic Commissioner Corporate Office
Hillcrest House
386 Harehills Lane