Police Scotland refuse to allow a game to proceed with 2,000 Napoli fans a few hours after the Queen’s body leaves for London. It is only in recent years European games have been policed as though we were living under Martial Law. Mini-vans full of officers, accompanied by impressively expensive hardware, now segregate our streets outside grounds. The same is true when 700 Celtic fans visit Ibrox and in the corresponding game at Celtic Park.
No event proceeded the upgrade in spend, we went from peaceful, low-key policing, to what looks like a paramilitary occasion. The overtime costs must be off the scale. It solves a problem that never existed; in my decades attending Glasgow derbies and European games I witnessed countless occasions where rival fans walked away from games on either side of a street, with no police presence, never once did I see trouble.
There are real problems elsewhere. This change did not make our streets any safer outside pubs and take-away venues, where, hours later, drunken flashpoints happen. It also takes away the limited resources previously used for traffic duty, so fans are trapped in the area of the ground for much longer than before Mr Salmond’s policing reforms a few years ago.
Can we have the return of non-military policing, please? Maybe then we will be able to cope with two low-key events happening at different times on the same day. This is all a bit embarrassing.
Like you, I was keen for Premiership games go ahead on Saturday, as I expected Aberdeen to take points against Newco and for Celtic to beat Livingston. Ultimately, I doubt the postponements will make any difference to the outcome of the title.
What may be more relevant is the unexpected gift of a free week ahead of the game against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. Shakhtar had an exhausting game against Chornomorets Odesa on Saturday. Marian Shved equalised for them in the 74th minute before they scored a 96th minute winner against a team who have drawn two and lost two of their four games this season.