12 January 2016

Campaign Director Dave Scott prepares to make Nil by Mouth’s case for Strict Liability on the STV News at Six
Campaign Director Dave Scott prepares to make Nil by Mouth’s case for Strict Liability on the STV News at Six

Anti-sectarian campaigners today called on Scottish football clubs to give fans a say on the game signing up to UEFA’s code of conduct for dealing with sectarian, racist and offensive behaviour at games.

Nil by Mouth made the call following a number of high profile instances of fan misbehaviour at Scottish grounds over recent weeks. The charity is calling for the SPFL & SFA to include a motion on ‘Strict Liability’ at the game’s AGM in June and for clubs to give season ticket holders and supporters groups a say in which way their team should vote.

‘Strict Liability’ is the UEFA standard for tackling offensive behaviour at a football match and sanctions can include fines, closure of section of grounds, playing matches behind closed doors and docking of league points. A number of Scottish clubs have been sanctioned under the scheme in European matches. Last summer the English FA successfully introduced the measures whilst the proposals were rejected by Scottish clubs in 2013.

However, last May a high level Report for the Scottish Government highlighted a lack of leadership in the game when it came to tackling sectarianism and recommended that the game adopt the UEFA model.  Now campaigners have written to governing bodies asking them  to show leadership on the issue by insuring that a motion on introducing ‘Strict Liability’ is voted on at the SFA AGM in June. The charity are also calling for clubs to contact season ticket holders and supporters groups asking them for their views on the proposals prior to any vote.

Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott said:
‘We have been campaigning for UEFA’s ‘ strict liability ‘ principles to be introduced into Scottish football for several years and this case was strengthened by the Scottish Government Report last year which clearly highlighted it as the way to go.  The vast majesty of fans who go to games in Scotland are decent people and are fed up to the back teeth with this behaviour and we want to find a way of ensuring that their voices are heard on this important issue.

That is why we have written to the SFA and SPFL urging them to put ‘Strict Liability’ on the agenda for the AGM in June. By doing so publicly they give clubs several months to have meaningful dialogue with their fans about what course of action to take. By balloting season ticket holders clubs will be able to represent their fans and customers views directly. It would also give the silent majority of fans  a voice in a debate too often dominated by offensive and provocative chanting of a baleful minority. This is too big a decision to simply leave to officials and its vital that fans are fully engaged in the debate. It’s their game and this can be a chance to help clean it up.

UEFA have been operating ’Strict Liability’  successfully for years and by having a genuine debate on these proposals Scottish football has a chance to stand up to be counted and bring the game into the 21st century. The choice for clubs is stark – remain part of the problem or be part of the solution. ‘