THE SPFL have insisted their member clubs have invested heavily in measures to stop the “irresponsible and wholly reckless” use of pyrotechnics at matches and are continuing to work closely with their fans in an attempt to stamp out the problem.

Many domestic and European games involving Scottish sides this season have been blighted by supporters setting off flares and smoke bombs in the stands and Celtic, Hearts and Rangers were all fined by UEFA for the actions of their followers in Champions League and Conference League matches.

David Hamilton of the Scottish Police Federation has accused the country’s clubs of not doing enough to tackle a practice which is on the increase in football across Europe due to an unwillingness to spend money - and warned they risk losing their stadium safety certificates if there is no improvement in the situation. 

“What we really need is for the football clubs themselves to be much, much stricter on the use of pyrotechnics within grounds and search regimes to be much, much tighter," said Hamilton. "Sometimes they have not been as tight as they should be.

“I would also really like to see a clear and unambiguous statement from football clubs that pyrotechnics are absolutely unacceptable within grounds and that people found with them will get bans, if not life bans, if they are caught with them.

“We now have the legislation in place, which is helpful, but we need to see a renewed and invigorated response from the clubs. They have to make it clear there is no place for pyrotechnics in football.

“If the clubs are not going to take responsibility then maybe we need to start looking at their ground safety certificates and asking if they are actually fit and proper organisations to be holding events like that.

HeraldScotland:

“These certificates are there to ensure audiences can watch games in a safe environment. If you have got a proportion of your fans setting off flares and making it unsafe and you are not pursuing them actively enough then I would say there is a real question mark over the ability of clubs to be protecting people.

“That is a last-ditch resort. But our position is that everything should be on the table. What we need to see is clubs dealing very firmly with those who use pyrotechnics. There is a role here for clubs to play.

“People sometimes feel a bit cowed because it is big clubs, big money and a lot of people are involved. But we need to get over that. People cannot be put at risk going to watch a game of football. They need to be able to do that safely.”

He added: “The clubs need to get on top of this and show leadership and direction to their fans. They have to make it clear what is acceptable and what is unacceptable and deal with fans who don’t comply with regulations.

“These grounds have good CCTV systems. Clubs know where the people who set off flares and fireworks are seated. If there is a willingness to tackle this they can do it. It is not hard. I suspect it comes down to them not wanting to spend the money doing it.

“I don’t understand the reluctance to deal with this. We need a reset. What do we want Scottish football to be? Is it going to be family friendly? Or is it going to be a fire and explosive risk? That is where it is rapidly going. There is far too much of this and it needs to be nipped in the bud.”

MATTHEW LINDSAY'S PYRO INVESTIGATION

But an SPFL spokesman said: “Our member clubs invest heavily in CCTV systems, stewarding and policing to prevent all forms of unacceptable conduct at matches, including the hugely unwelcome use of pyrotechnics.

“They have the potential to be extremely dangerous, and clubs have engaged directly with fan groups, and on club media, to try and stamp out their use at matches.

“Very regrettably, the use of pyrotechnics is on the rise in many leagues across Europe and we fully support the efforts of our clubs and police to stop the very small minority of individuals who engage in such irresponsible and wholly reckless behaviour.”