OPPONENTS of strict liability, of whom there are no shortage among Scotland’s football clubs and governing bodies, argue there is no strong evidence to suggest that its introduction would achieve positive results.

The fact that Celtic have been fined on no fewer than 12 occasions in the past six years for the actions of their fans in the Champions League and Europa League games – competitions where it is in place – would certainly seem to back up their view.

Yet, its proponents - of whom Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan, who has been working on a bill that would, see it brought in in this country if passed, is very much one - would counter that the existing regulations are having no effect either.

“Nothing has changed,” said Dornan yesterday as he looked back on the appalling scenes that marred the first Edinburgh derby of the season in the capital on Wednesday night.

“Neil Lennon was attacked at Tynecastle seven years ago. Nothing happened. Nothing happened to Hearts. There were no sanctions put on the club. The same thing happened on Wednesday night. The Hibs fan attacked the goalkeeper as well. It was just outrageous.”

Dornan is adamant that football fans, even the morons who punched Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal and struck Hibernian manager Neil Lennon with a coin, would think twice if they knew their club would suffer, as a result of being fined, forced to play matches behind closed doors or even docked points, as a consequence.

“It would do two things,” he said. “One, it would make the clubs take extremely seriously the issues that they are facing. I don’t believe that they do at this stage because they don’t face a sanction. Two, it would lead to an extension of self-policing.

“These wee idiots might be prepared to disgrace the club that they pretend to support, but the other people who go there aren’t. If they see behaviour that is going to cost their club points they would be very quick to say ‘this isn’t good enough, this has got to stop’.

“When you have got large groups of fans, the club have to deal with them. When you have got individual fans the other fans themselves can always, to a great extent, police themselves. The clubs need a sanction and at the moment there is no real sanction.”

Dornan added: “It has been brought in down in England in a limited way. They have done something which is good. It sends out a message. If the Premier League in England can do it why can’t Scottish football do it? If UEFA do it why can’t Scottish football do it?

“Who do Scottish football think they are to say they alone know the answer and it lies within their hands. It has been shown time and time again that it doesn’t work.”

Critics of strict liability claim it is unfair to make clubs suffer for the actions of a tiny minority of their supporters and contend that it is open to abuse by fans of other clubs who will actively seek to land their rivals in trouble.

But Dornan said: “It is a desperate ploy to deflect attention from their shortcomings. First of all, you need season tickets for most games. If you give somebody your ticket somebody else knows who you are. A Rangers fan doesn’t suddenly appear in the Celtic end. I don’t take that seriously.

“Anyway, nobody is saying that a club should be punished at the first sign of trouble. There has to be a step ladder of sanctions. A warning, a fine, playing a game behind closed doors, then losing points, whatever. There has to be something done. We can’t allow it to continue as it is.”

Before the Edinburgh derby, a game that was broadcast live across the United Kingdom by BT Sport, had even kicked off smoke cannisters were thrown by Hearts fans in the Wheatfield Stand into Hibs supporters who were situated in the Roseburn Stand.

“Fans who bring in pyrotechnics to the game are the most selfish people,” said Dornan. “They care about nothing else other than making themselves look important to their wee group of friends. That is just not acceptable when people’s safety is at stake.

“If these people support their clubs and their clubs were going to lose points because of the continual bad behaviour of their fans then that sort of behaviour would stop. The fans themselves would stop them. There has to be sanctions. The SFA and the SPFL have shown time and time again that they are not willing to sanction the clubs.”

Asked if his colleagues at Holyrood were behind his proposal to introduce strict liability into the Scottish game through his bill, he said: “Those who are interested in football feels that something has to be done. Not all of them. Some of them think the SFA and SPFL can handle it. But that is not the general opinion.

“Any time the SFA and SPFL have been at parliament they have been lambasted for their arrogance and inability to deal with serious issues. There is a long way to go, but I am working on it.”