In the wake of the appalling behaviour of fans after the cup final game in March 2016, I opened up a public consultation on the possibility of introducing strict liability into Scottish Football. Strict liability makes a person legally responsible for the damage or loss caused by their acts and omissions regardless of their culpability. Under strict liability, there is no requirement to prove fault, negligence or intention and is already a prominent concept in consumer law, company law, and criminal law.
Within the context of football, it normally refers to a system of sanctions that are applied to clubs in response to the bad behaviour of their fans. Having this sort of strict liability system of sanctions for clubs in place would of course not prevent the police and prosecutors pursuing individual fans through the courts for their behaviour, in addition to holding the clubs themselves responsible.
I passionately care about the game and its future. I am optimistic about the future of Scottish football and have seen the huge changes that have occurred over the last few decades, most of them for the better. However, we are still afflicted by the behaviour of a minority of supporters who appear to believe that football allows them to behave in a way they wouldn’t consider doing anywhere else. This behaviour can manifest itself through sectarianism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and also through violence. In 21st Century Scotland this is simply unacceptable.
I’m grateful to those people who took the time the complete the survey, both for and against, and I hope to take this Bill forward so that more people can enjoy football without having to endure the awful behaviour of a minority of people.
The responses to my consultation can be viewed here.