SPFL ready for rethink over rules on fans’ conduct

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THE Scottish Professional Football League is to review its policy on fan behaviour in the wake of criticism over the policy on sectarian singing.

The SPFL board discussed the issue 24 hours after chief executive Neil Doncaster hinted Rangers were unlikely to face punishment over the latest outburst by their supporters.

The issue has been a major talking point following alleged conduct by Rangers fans. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The issue has been a major talking point following alleged conduct by Rangers fans. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The Nil By Mouth charity led calls for SPFL clubs to adopt a “strict liability” policy that sees clubs punished for fan behaviour, a system which saw Celtic fined by Uefa this week after supporters lit flares at their Europa League game against Dynamo Zagreb in December.

The SPFL arrangement sees clubs cleared if they can show they did everything possible to prevent offensive behaviour.

A statement from the league read: “An SPFL board meeting was convened by conference call this morning to discuss recent supporter misconduct at several matches.

“The strong view of the SPFL board is that such behaviour has no place in Scottish football.

“These events and the current regulations in this area will be reviewed and discussed in detail when the board meets in person at Hampden in March.”

The SPFL recently announced it was taking no action against Rangers or Celtic following the QTS Scottish League Cup semi-final after ten people were arrested for sectarian breach of the peace and a significant proportion of Rangers fans sang ‘No Pope of Rome’ and the ‘Billy Boys’, while Celtic fans lit flares.

Rangers fans could again be heard chanting ‘’Fenian b*******’’ and anti-Catholic songs during their team’s game at Raith Rovers on Friday and it is understood this is mentioned in the SPFL match delegate’s report.

On Tuesday, Doncaster called the offending Rangers fans’ behaviour “distasteful, shameful and selfish” but added: ‘’It remains the SPFL’s position that if it can be established that clubs have done everything required in overall management of the event pre-match, during the game and post-match then they have no case to answer.”

Rangers later issued a statement calling on an end to the offensive chants that were heard at Stark’s Park. It read: “The Rangers supporters have been magnificent at Ibrox and on our travels this season and it was extremely disappointing that a minority of supporters chose to engage in inappropriate singing during last weekend’s match at Raith Rovers.

“That said, the club takes great encouragement from the fact that the majority of supporters were quick to condemn those who indulged in criminal behaviour and the club ask all supporters to act as ambassadors for Rangers when they attend our matches.

“Those who engage in unacceptable behaviour are only damaging Rangers so it is important to back the team in the correct manner and prevent the club from attracting negative comments.”

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