Scottish clubs, including (original) Rangers, opposed the imposition of Strict Liability on clubs for offenses by their fans as long as the club concerned had undertaken all reasonable precautions to discourage and prevent those offenses.
In other words, if a club warn fans what is unacceptable behaviour, and confirm they will be banned from your stadium if they indulge, the club will not incur any punishment. As we know, it’s different in European competition, where clubs are held responsible for fans’ transgressions.
This is all fine and well, but it’s a moot debate after the Scottish Cup Final riot. Hibs and (Newco) Rangers may well have taken all reasonable precautions ahead of the game, but that changed for Newco immediately thereafter.
The statement defending the Newco fans taking the law into their own hands on the Hampden pitch that day is the opposite of undertaking all reasonable precautions. In fact, it was incendiary. I have little doubt it contributed to the actions of Newco fans in the first few months of this season, who appear to wandering around Premiership grounds ready to settle perceived scores.
Justification by Statement has continued. It’s now a pattern. The question for the SFA disciplinary panel, is whether they condone clubs encouraging fans taking the law into their own hands, as consistent with reasonable precautions, when deciding on actions by visiting fans at Celtic Park and Pittodrie.
It’s not. In fact, it’s dangerous and will lead to increasingly alarming situations until those setting the fires are brought to account. What happened at Celtic Park and Pittodrie was bad enough but far more serious consequences could lie ahead if this clarion call for Direct Action isn’t faced.
The players will still be buzzing from Wednesday night when they take to the field at Dens tomorrow lunchtime. We could blow Dundee away in a wave of effervescent football, or we could struggle to get heads out of the clouds. We’ve witnessed both scenarios before.
You’re in for a treat tonight, the Jimmy Johnstone documentary is on BBC Alba at 9:30, on what would have been his 72nd birthday. It’s a brilliant journey into the life and family of an extraordinary-ordinary person. I thought I’d known all there was to know about the Jinky story, but I didn’t realise he was decades ahead of the game in terms of fitness and training techniques.
We have a special article out today, written by SunnyJim, on brain injury in the game (and a whole lot more). We re-examine a blow to the head taken early in the 6-2 game by Fernando Ricksen, who like Jinky, was struck by Motor Neurone Disease.
The game has a responsibility to its players, which means we all need to become educated in some of the risks. Read the article, you’ll learn something significant about an incident you are very familiar with.
The Celtic Foundation has had a great boost already from all those who are doing the Great Scottish Run on Sunday on its behalf. Dozens of Celtic fans have been sponsored by hundreds of fans, raising thousands of pounds.
This will be the last you hear from me on the subject before the off; if you can help, here’s the place.
Thank you, and thanks to everyone who has already contributed.