• STV
  • MySTV

Football clubs ask for help to fund facial recognition technology

SPFL approaches Scottish Government for financial support to bring in scheme costing up to £4m.

Talks: SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Talks: SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. SNS Group

The Scottish Professional Football League has asked for financial support from the government for a scheme designed to tackle offensive behaviour in stadiums from next season, Raman Bhardwaj reports.

Meetings have already taken place between representatives of the SPFL and the Scottish Government over a request for financial help to introduce facial recognition technology, costing up to £4m, which will be used to identify offenders.

The league governing body is determined to take a firm stance on sectarian singing, the use of flares and other offensive behaviour, and believes the scheme could be effective following incidents involving Celtic, Rangers and Dundee United supporters.

The move towards the technology, which would be the first of its kind in the UK, is designed to identify those guilty of violence, offensive singing, use of pyrotechnics and any other prohibited behaviour.

One proposal would see the introduction of facial-recognition software to identify troublemakers and create a database of supporters who should be banned from grounds across the country.

If someone on the black list attempted to enter a stadium, an alert would be received allowing clubs to take action. It would then be the responsibility of clubs to ensure these fans were unable to gain access to matches.

The scheme would be introduced along with new rules and harsher punishments for clubs who fail to deal with supporters engaged in disorderly behaviour.

A points deduction would be among the more severe outcomes under the plan, which would bring an end to the current policy of clubs not being punished as long as they openly condemn such behaviour.

Debate over how to deal with crowd disorder in Scottish football has escalated in recent weeks. Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan has called for the introduction of "strict liability" rules to bring clubs to account for any rule breaches, aligning Scottish rules with UEFA regulations.

STV understands the SPFL proposal would not involve introducing strict liability, with those behind the move hopeful their plans will provide a compromise between the current inaction and the desire for immediate punishment.

Supporters and human rights organisations have expressed concerns over the proposals.

Simon Barrow, chairman of the Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA) said: "The SFSA would be concerned at a rushed move towards intrusive surveillance.

"There needs to be careful consultation with fans and clubs, alongside wider consideration of how to deal effectively and proportionately with threatening and insulting behaviour.

"The best ways forward will involve working with the great majority of supporters who deplore such abuses, rather than making them feel under accusation themselves."

Open Rights Group (ORG) Scotland said the technology would encroach on people's right to privacy and could mean football fans were unfairly targeted.

Pol Clementsmith, of the organisation, said: "There are serious concerns with data protection. How would the information be held? Are vulnerable people being filmed? 

"How could someone request the data if it was privately held? Is the information commissioner happy with this plan?"

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We look forward to football authorities setting out firm proposals on what robust action they’re going to take to tackle unacceptable behaviour at football.”

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.