SNP hit on the counter by opposition parties

Posted on November 8, 2011


By Peter Diamond

A conglomerate of Celtic supporters clubs who demonstrated against the sectarian Bill last Saturday have won support from opposition parties in Holyrood this week.

Fans Against Criminalisation is a campaign group founded by five fan organisations (Green Brigade, Celtic Trust, Celtic Supporters Association, Affiliation of Celtic Supporters, Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs). The campaign was formed on the back of the Green Brigade’s well-received protest at the Inverness Caledonian Thistle game at Parkhead on Saturday 24th September, after many previous discussions between the organisations about the Bill.

A spokesperson for the group gave this statement regarding the formation and aims of the group “we decided to come together to campaign against the Bill. The Government has shown little interest in fans’ views on the Bill. Fans Against Criminalisation will be campaigning vigorously over the coming weeks and months and will be making our views heard. “If the Bill passes then we will continue to protest against it, and challenge it legally and politically. The Celtic support is a very powerful potential constituency and the Scottish Government should be mindful of that”.

Today the SNP face stiff opposition from other leading parties. With over 1500 people attending, this shows that the fans group protest on Saturday at George Square in Glasgow was a success. The demonstration was to highlight the scrutiny facing all football fans if this piece of legislation was to go through parliament. Opposing MSP’s say the Bill is overloaded with confusion and lacks clarity, even some top lawyers such as Bill McVicar have great doubts about the SNP’s rushed proposal “The Bill’s definition of what is regarded as unacceptable behavior at football matches will also prove difficult to determine in practical situations. There is a real risk that this additional legislation actually ends up causing more confusion rather than adding any clarity.”

The proposed legislation is being seen to criminalise all fans for their behaviour at football grounds. Sectarianism is a massive problem that has to be tackled and is much wider than the football spectre but there has been no serious disorder at a football stadium for over 30 years in Scotland. The main issues Scottish people and the government have to face up to are the chronic struggle with bigotry and alcohol. The criminalisation of football fans would destroy our game which is already on its knees, with fans not being able to sing the British national anthem or the Irish national anthem, these songs are not sectarian, shouting at opposing fans when your team scores a goal is part of football.

Fans Against Criminalisation have emailed every SNP minister in Scotland only getting one response which was just an acknowledgment last week.

Negotiations with football fans are essential for this piece of legislation will succeed in Scotland. One source from the group ‘Fans Against Criminalisation’ said “there are things people can do to help the campaign, such as writing to your local MSP to make them aware of how it effects you supporting your team.”

Posted in: News Stories