Scottish football authorities blast proposed ‘draconian’ new football rules for travelling fans
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The Scottish FA, Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish Women’s Professional League have expressed concerns over the UK Government proposals to implement new rules around football supporters’ buses for fans travelling to games.
A consultation document detailing new guidelines for ‘taking passengers to sporting events in Scotland’ was published last week by senior Great Britain’s Traffic Commissioner Richard Tufitt, which set out to impose limits on buses carrying fans to away matches.
Scotland currently has the highest football attendance per capita in Europe, with a large amount of supporters travelling to games on organised private hire coaches.
The proposed new rules include new restrictions such as not allowing buses to stop within ten miles of the football ground without police permission and banning buses from stopping at pubs unless alcohol is being consumed along with “a substantial meal”. Voluntary searches for alcohol and and pyrotechnics, and a requirement to inform a “dedicated football officer” of detail of the trip ahead of travel has also been outlined.
However, this has been met with an angry backlash from football fans, SNP’s and the governing bodies who have described the proposals as being “draconian” and believe that implementing them would ‘demonise’ Scottish football supporters.
A joint statement issued on behalf of the Scottish FA, SPFL, and SWPL said: “There’s no evidence that this is a significant problem in Scottish football. We are concerned by the targeted nature of these proposals, which serve to demonise football fans and interfere unnecessarily in people’s lives.
“In Scotland, there are already appropriate powers held by PHV operators, Police Scotland and other partners to deal effectively with a very small number of incidents by a minority of fans.
“The consultation itself notes that the majority of football fans are law-abiding and do not cause any disturbances when travelling to or from games, yet these proposals would unfairly affect the vast majority of football fans who travel safely and respectfully to and from matches on a weekly basis.
“We don’t support these unnecessary and heavy-handed proposals and we will be making our views clear in the consultation.”
The SNP’s Westminster leader and Dundee United supporter Stephen Flynn slaughtered the plan and stated that football fans should be celebrated and now punished.
He tweeted on social media: “These unworkable, unmanagable, and unenforceable proposals belong in the bin. Scotland’s football attendance, the highest in Europe, is something to be celebrated and encouraged, not punished as the Tories are seeking to do with these absurd suggestions.
“This will have a severe impact not just on our football clubs, but the small businesses and firms who rely on matchday travel and footfall. At a time when Scotland is in the midst of a crucial European qualification campaign, it’s telling that the UK government would issue such a tone-deaf and damaging proposal for our game.”
Scottish Conservative shadow transport minister Graham Simpson commented: “These proposals are completely disproportionate. They fail to recognise the hugely important role football - and football fans - play in communities right across Scotland.
“Scotland is a football loving nation and fans often go that extra mile - quite literally - to support their teams. These proposals risk putting that in jeopardy while also impact those business who lay on travel for fans on a weekly basis.
“I urge the UK Government to rework these misguided plans and will make representatations to them to this effect.”
Kilmarnock and Loudon MP Alan Brown tweeted: “This would be a complete and utter waste of police time and recourses. As someone who ran a supporters’ bus for 26 year and still regularly travels to away games via this avenue, it will simply not work - total madness.”