You will note the most right-winged, left-wing government in history was yesterday resisting attempts to repeal the Offensive Behaviour Act. The Act was sheer populist electioneering by Alex Salmond, who decided after watching several Rangers players dismissed at the end of a game at Celtic Park that something should be done about the 60,000 spectators who attended the game, and its aftermath, left the stadium in an orderly manner.
Football was well covered by policing and the existing legal framework, but Christine Graham MSP hoped to “equalise” non-criminal behaviour at football, specifically by Celtic fans, with criminal behaviour. It was the most uber-right-winged, thought-police, actual-police-backed policy on these shores in decades. Political capital was poured into policing this law, as was significant financial capital.
All other political parties in the Scottish Parliament oppose the Act, due to its fundamental flaws, so on the face of it, yesterday’s initiative by James Kelly MSP, to repeal the Act has a chance, but no more than that.
The Scottish Greens, who have historically opposed the Act, are prevaricating. They are in a position to vote through SNP policy, so hold leverage over the government.
Meanwhile, police numbers in Scotland have dropped to their lowest levels since 2010 and Police Scotland can no longer afford to man traffic signals when tens of thousands of fans leave football grounds. In 2016, we can’t afford a police officer to oversee traffic signals to allow vast volumes of traffic to proceed in the same direction. In Scotland!
We must be the only country in the developed world who can’t afford traffic-signal policing for major events (if you hear someone yelling this on London Road post-game it’ll probably be me, I’ve been known to go on about it).
You are being taken for granted. Don’t be. You can participate in the Proposed Football Act (Repeal) (Scotland) Bill by letting your views be known here.
Scott Brown did well to acknowledge that Aberdeen and Hearts are our most likely challengers this season. The notion that a newly promoted team will come close to Celtic next season is a fantasy.
The Telegraph today run an article on pressure from Spain and Italy to revamp the Champions League. There is a real danger that the already wealthy large leagues will look to further secure their positions by tipping Europe’s top competition in their numerical favour. We should be OK while the current TV deal is in place but all bets are off next time.
The root cause of the demand for change is the pre-eminence of the English and Welsh Premier League cartel, which is slowly colonising not just Scotland, but Spain, Italy and elsewhere too.
The football model is broken pretty much everywhere. Change will happen; let’s hope it’s benign when it comes, as it threatens to finish the game outside of the “top five leagues”. Your clubs will be impoverished and irrelevant, your infrastructure will be denied investment, even the trickle-down of resources to kids football will mean your children are disadvantaged.
Bear that in mind when you cheer Barca and Real Madrid.
I think we’re going to have fun with this Shitov character tomorrow, who thinks there’s nothing new to see about Celtic Park, but needs to dry his eyes because Leigh DIDN’T punch him!