• STV
  • MySTV

Celtic condemn 'negative' football laws and call for urgent review

Club calls on government to review Offensive Behaviour at Football Act 'as a matter of urgency'.

Celtic reject blasts Parkhead ‘old school crap’

Celtic FC have set themselves on a collision course with the Scottish Government after an early review of controversial laws intended to stamp out religious sectarian abuse was rejected as "nonsensical".

The club issued a sternly worded statement on Tuesday evening after MSP Roseanna Cunningham rejected suggestions at Holyrood that the review should be brought forward from the deadline, due in August 2015.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent in January 2012 and an agreement was made at the time to review the offences after two full football seasons but Celtic says the laws are "unhelpful" and should be reviewed now "as a matter of urgency".

The club statement said: "Celtic have called for a review of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Grounds Act to be brought forward and have labelled it 'unhelpful and counter-productive'.

"The Scottish Government introduced the legislation in 2012 and promised a review after two full football seasons of operation. However, Celtic believe that there is already sufficient evidence of the Act's 'unhelpfulness and negative impacts' to justify an immediate review with action to follow.

"Celtic have all along opposed this legislation which has been used to create a general presumption that different laws should apply to football supporters as distinct from society as a whole.

"This has inevitably led to a sense of discrimination across Scottish football and has brought the law into disrepute when tested in the criminal courts. It has also acted as a barrier to our own efforts to encourage supporters to behave in a way which is consistent with the club's proud history and reputation.

"We believe the Scottish Government should review, as a matter of urgency, the way in which this unhelpful and counter-productive Act is operating."

The club said they have always valued a positive relationship with the police and is concerned that they have been put in the position of enforcing legislation which is "provocative and does not command widespread respect".

They say that the Act has brought the law into disrepute and to report back to Parliament one year later, but concerns have since been raised by fans about police tactics and the Act in general.

Minister for community safety Roseanna Cunningham had earlier insisted that the review would not be moved from August 2015, when Stirling University researchers are due to publish findings.

She told MSPs on Holyrood's Justice Committee: "Until August 2014, they haven't got all the information. It's at that point they start to be doing all the analysis of the two full years work.

"We are now a good two years down the line from this being implemented and we're coming close to the end of that two-year review period the Act provided for.

"I just don't really see any great need for that to be changed. I couldn't now step in and ask them to do something differently to what they've been instructed.

"That process, because it's being done independently, because it's being done through Stirling University, is going to give a proper, comprehensive, quality-assured, evidence-based evaluation which will be — I hesitate to say incontrovertible, because nothing is ever incontrovertible — but it will be as solid a piece of work as you could possibly expect."

Asked if anything could happen before the 2015 deadline, such as in interim report, she replied: "No, it would be nonsensical to do something while this review was ongoing when we know the review is going to be published — they're the independent researchers, they're the ones that will be able to tell us something needs to be tweaked or not."

The legislation gives police and prosecutors new powers to tackle sectarian songs and abuse at and around football matches, as well as threats posted on the internet or through the mail. It created two distinct offences, punishable through a range of penalties up to a maximum five years in prison and an unlimited fine.

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. This must be at least 6 characters long. 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
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

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.