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SPFL chief: Scottish football should resist strict liability

Neil Doncaster believes it's not fair to hold clubs responsible for supporters' behaviour.

Scottish football should resist moves to make clubs responsible for fans' behaviour, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has told STV.

'Strict liability' has been floated as a solution to trouble at grounds across the country.

That could lead to clubs being docked points or sections of stadiums closed following incidents.

Games this season have been littered with coin and bottle throwing, seats being ripped up and fans confronting players.

STV News revealed last month that legislation could soon be put before the Scottish Parliament by a backbench MSP.

But Mr Doncaster believes introducing strict liability, used in UEFA competitions, is an unfair approach to dealing with the problem.

He said: "Strict liability is a term that's banded around, I'm not sure people really understand what it means.

"There are two broad versions of strict liability. One is where you hold the home club responsible for everything that goes on within its stadium and the other version is where you hold a club responsible for its fans whether home or away.

Various incidents have littered Scottish football this season.
Various incidents have littered Scottish football this season. SNS

"The latter doesn't work because you'll quickly find that the away club will stop selling tickets for away matches.

"I'm not sure it's particularly fair to start punishing the home club particularly, smaller home clubs, when they have an influx of fans from larger clubs.

"It may be more difficult to manage some of the unacceptable conduct that does occur.

"Strict liability, where it's been brought in, and UEFA competitions is a good example, it doesn't work.

'Strict liability, where it's been brought in, and UEFA competitions is a good example, it doesn't work.'
Neil Doncaster

"We're far better I think focusing on practical measures that weed out the individuals and hold those individuals strictly accountable, strictly liable for the actions that they themselves cause."

Mr Doncaster instead believes troublemaking fans should be face stiffer punishments.

He said: "We'd be wholly supportive of far harsher custodial sentences for those who do transgress.

"It's important that that small minority of individuals who do engage in unacceptable conduct that they are found, they are identified and they are prosecuted both by the club and by the full force of the law.

"We support the efforts of those clubs who have very effectively done that this season.

"Direct action is being taken by clubs and it is proving to be effective so we absolutely support that action. More can be done and more will be done."

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1436828-ponsonby-should-strict-liability-be-introduced-in-scottish-football/ | default

After a string of unsavoury incidents this season, the Scottish Government has previously warned that it's time for football clubs and administrators to act.

SNP MSP James Dornan wants to impose strict liability on clubs and hopes to bring legislation to Holyrood before the summer.

The former First Minister Henry McLeish, who authored a blueprint for the future of the Scottish game and has written extensively on the issue, warned the footballing authorities that they must take action to prevent government intervention.

He said: "Scotland has moved on but at times I fear that the game is still rooted in the past.

"It's up to the football authorities, up to the football clubs to take the appropriate action and, if they do, then I don't think the government needs to get involved.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1436827-msp-moves-to-impose-strict-liability-on-scottish-football/ | default

"But in the absence of positive action by the authorities then I'm afraid the government will have to step in."

Supporters group Fans Against Criminalisation believes suggestions of a problem with behaviour in Scotland has been exaggerated.

Its spokeswoman Jeanette Findlay feels current laws are strong enough to deal with troublemakers.

She said: "I would challenge those people to actually present the evidence because there is no evidence that there is a problem at Scottish football."

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