NEW season. Same issues.

Last term seemed to bring with it an incessant stream of incidents in terms of crowd disorder and fan misbehaviour with the frequency of such happenings far more notable than previous campaigns.

Last Sunday as the Rangers support celebrated a last gasp goal against a Kilmarnock side who had taken ten points off them over the course of the previous season, a roof collapsed on the disabled section of the support.

Yet again it brings into sharp focus the dangers of drinking on an empty head.

There was little malicious intent behind the celebrations but rather a moment of crass stupidity.

Given the sheer volume of column inches that were given over last season to charting what came to be regarded as the growing problem of crowd control, it seems only a matter of time before the subject of strict liability will come up again.


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It is never going to win a popularity contest but with each passing incident it will become increasingly inevitable as the governing body is pressurised to be seen to do something . And one does wonder what it might take to deter people from crossing a particular line.

Television companies made the decision not to give streakers any exposure in order not only to avoid copycats but also to starve exhibitionists of their 15 minutes of fame. Last season the incident at Aston Villa when Jack Grealish was punched by a fan who had ran onto the pitch was shown on a continual loop. Given the manner in which social media can highlight and expose such scenarios, it is unlikely that any kind of blackout could be successfully implemented but it seems odd that those who crave a little bit of infamy are rewarded with it.

At Easter Road one Friday night Rangers’ James Tavernier was confronted by a supporter who jumped onto the pitch. His assailant grinned widely for the camera as he was huckled away. Last season Celtic captain Scott Brown questioned how long it might take before a player was seriously injured.

It came at the height of a particularly febrile period in which it seemed each weekend brought forth a headline about smoke bombs, coin or bottle throwing, illegal use of pyros, sectarian chanting, pitch invasions to celebrate goals and smashed up seats. And yet in the immediate aftermath of such moments there is always a rush to hysteria. At one stage last season there was the utterly preposterous idea from former Birmingham player David Cotteril in the aftermath of the Grealish incident that armed police officers should be brought inside grounds in order to curb anti-social behaviour. On a less extreme end, the return of high netting and partial ground closures were all suggested at various points of the debate.

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But, essentially, if one is to calculate the numbers of supporters who attend a football match in Scotland over the course of an average weekend and then work out the arrest rate, it amounts to significantly less than a mere one per cent. Musical festivals tend to attract far higher numbers of arrests; this summer’s TRNSMT festival which ran over three days in Glasgow Green had 44 arrests, including 13 on its opening day.

That is not to minimise the issues within football but the problem is that football has to learn to police itself some way – and be seen to take action that is more than just political rhetoric.

In 2017, a Celtic supporter, John Hatton, kicked out at Paris Saint Germain teenager Kylian Mbappe during a Champions League group game. As he was escorted off the pitch to loud jeers, another Celtic fan ended up in the back of the van for punching Hatton on the head as he was being arrested, such was the irritation at another impending UEFA fine pending for the club.

Changing the culture by making such behaviour genuinely frowned upon by their contemporaries has to be seen as the way forward. Leaving the terraces to go onto the pitch has to be seen as the unthinkable but it is worth remembering that for the vast majority who look out their season tickets and don their scarves every weekend, it is.


SO much has been said this summer about Kieran Tierney’s move to Arsenal that there is very little else to add to the conversation.


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But as we have long observed before, the idea that social media offers a genuine barometer of the mood of the majority seems a misnomer; a radio station had a reporter canvas opinion on Thursday afternoon as the full-back’s departure for Arsenal was confirmed without one dissenting voice raised in a series of interviews with punters milling around Celtic Park.

And so it should be.

Judge those who sport the colours of the club by what they do in the time they have. And few could find reason where Tierney has been wanting. Not once did the player agitate or hustle for the move during what must have been a fairly draining and emotional process in what was an on-off saga all summer.

He kept his counsel before posting a heart-on-the-sleeve farewell message and arms and doors will be opened for the player whenever he returns to the club.

The biggest cheer when the news came through that Tierney’s move had gone through may well have come from Hampden as Steve Clarke applauded.

Having as many players as possible playing at the highest level can only be welcomed and Scottish football itself should celebrate the fact that they have produced a player trusted to go and play at the top level of a league that has been notoriously suspicious of our north-of-the-border talent.