AS the illegal use of pyrotechnics by fans at matches has risen steadily in the past year, several Scottish football clubs have taken steps to address the concerning problem.

Celtic suspended the Green Brigade ultras group indefinitely for a long list of misdemeanours – including the coordinated strobe display at their Champions League match against Feyenoord in Rotterdam in September - back at the end of October.

And their cinch Premiership rivals Aberdeen, Motherwell and Rangers have all released statements condemning a practice which has been on the increase across the country and stressing that anyone caught setting off fireworks in the stands will face bans.

But their words and actions are clearly not having the desired effect.

Members of the Green Brigade lit flares and ignited smoke bombs when they turned up on the Celtic Way to welcome Brendan Rodgers and his players to Parkhead before their league match against Motherwell last month.

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And this weekend followers of Aberdeen, Motherwell and Rangers all, despite the stark warnings they had been issued with by the custodians of the clubs they purport to love, staged large-scale displays at their games.

The Fir Park hierarchy expressed disappointment that a significant number of people in the away end had used flares at their meeting with St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park at the start of last month and emphasised they were endangering the safety of “stewards, players and their fellow supporters”.

The Herald: But at their encounter with St Mirren in Paisley on Saturday there was a flare mass display to rival that staged by their Rangers counterparts in the Bob Shankly Stand at Dens Park at the start of their match with Dundee last month.

Then came the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden on Sunday.

Rangers had revealed that they faced disciplinary action from the SPFL if there was any repeat of the events on Tayside in a missive which was posted on their official website last month.

However, as James Tavernier led his team mates out onto the hallowed Mount Florida turf before kick-off dozens of strobes were set off in amongst the hundreds of flags which were being waved by excited Bears.

It was a similar story at the opposite end of the stadium at the start and end of the game – red flares were lit by several Aberdeen fans before hostilities commenced and then once again as the showpiece match neared its conclusion.

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As the VAR official checked a red card offence in the Rangers penalty box following a goalmouth stramash involving both sets of players, three burning flares were thrown over the top of supporters. They narrowly missed stewards.

Aberdeen publicly implored their fans to behave in a safe and respectful manner after their own player Ryan Duncan was nearly struck by a flare during a Premiership match against Dundee United at Tannadice back in March.  

The Dons were also fined £9,500 by UEFA in October after a flare was thrown at Eintracht Frankfurt fans in a Conference League group game in Germany. An element within their support has not been deterred.

There were talks involving representatives of the SFA, SPFL, Scottish government, Police Scotland and the Football Safety Officers Association Scotland at Hampden last month following the Dens Park debacle - which triggered fire alarms, resulted in the referee taking both sets of players off the pitch and led to the match being suspended for 18 minutes.

A coordinated action plan is currently being drawn up and will be rolled out later this season.

It is very difficult to see what the authorities can do to extinguish the use of pyrotechnics at matches. They are small, easy to obtain and simple to conceal. Bans, criminal charges and stern warnings have proved futile. But the sooner something happens the better.

The “no pyro no party” brigade argue that strobes, flares and smoke bombs are an integral part of the ultra culture and enhance the atmosphere at games. They are a noisy minority. A survey carried out by the Scottish Football Supporters’ Association last year showed the majority of fans do not like or want them.

READ MORESFA & SPFL Hampden pyro warning after Rangers fans' flares

Pyro apologists also point to the fact there have been very few casualties and no fatalities in this country despite their prevalence. That may or may not be the case. But the potential for very serious injury is certainly there.

One female Raith Rovers supporter was hit by a flare which was thrown by one of her fellow fans at a Scottish Cup game against Dunfermline at East End Park this month and had her jacket burned. It was a close escape.

There are several options available to the police and governing bodies – safe pyro sections, awareness campaigns, stricter enforcement of existing laws, heavier fines, longer bans, stand closures and even points deductions should all be seriously considered.

Much more must be done or someone will end up being badly hurt. 

Aberdeen, Motherwell, Rangers and the SPFL were approached for comment.   

The Herald: