We had an interesting couple of announcements from the Scottish Premier League yesterday. Safe Standing areas, where instead of a seat, spectators have a crush barrier in front of them, is no longer against league rules. Before the introduction of standing areas council Health and Safety officials would need to give approval, as do the police. Council approval should be straightforward, crush barriers separating each row of spectators make the environment safe, but I’m less sure the police will be keen.
Policing huge stadiums with seated spectators is straightforward compared to policing standing fans. Disturbances tend to cause those involved to stand up, drawing immediate attention to the incident, while knowing exactly who is sitting on which seat would allow transgressors of the Scottish Governments new interpretation on making the sign of the cross to be pursued after the event.
League rules (note: not the law of the land) have also been updated to clarify the definition of “Unacceptable Conduct” as ‘using words, conduct or displaying any writing or other thing which indicates support for, or affiliation to, or celebration of, or opposition to an organisation proscribed in terms of the Terrorism Act 2000’.
New rules on how clubs are expected to tackle Unacceptable Conduct, with fresh procedures, if necessary, have also been introduced. Clubs are now required to bring occurrences of Unacceptable Conduct to the Match Commander. Failure to do so will bring the club into breach, should an incident subsequently be reported, by TV spectators, for example.
Clubs are also charged to “Take reasonably practical steps, including consultation with police, to identify those who engage in Unacceptable Conduct”, which creates obvious dissonance with the new Safe Standing Area policy.
We’ll see how these rules work out in practice but look out for an interesting consequence. Some Celtic fans are often cited as singing about the IRA (who are on the Proscribed list in their various historical formats) but they are not the supporters who sing most about that organisation(s). That ‘honour’ falls to Rangers fans, who are bound not to sing in “opposition to an organisation proscribed”.
The notion that Rangers (and let’s not forget Hearts) are compelled to identify and sanction any of their supporters caught “effin’ the IRA” in fear any TV viewer reports them is what keeps this country unique.
CQN Magazine, issue 5, will be out soon. After 4 issues online and shipping single copies from Magcloud in the US, we’ve ordered a print run locally. You can order now with credit/debit card or Paypal and buy direct from the UK for only £5 by clicking on the link below.