Issuing fines to vans collecting for food banks was an own goal. Lessons must be learned - Stephen McIlkenny

Football is by its very nature, a tribal sport.

The divisions and the age old rivalries, are for many, what makes the game so compelling.

However, there are many things that fans come together on. Every club in Scotland has some charitable wing and many work together to raise money for wonderful and important causes.

While there are often negative headlines, football can also be a catalyst for good. Many clubs and supporters work with their communities to give back, whether it be through charitable donations or the clubs themselves opening their doors to allow part of their stadium to become a vaccine centre or medical facility.

On Sunday, a Celtic FC supporters group held their Christmas food bank appeal outside of Celtic Park ahead of the Aberdeen match.

According to the organisers, 9 vans worth of food was collected for charities and food bank centres to be distributed across Glasgow and the West, with close to £18,000 in cash also raised.

While such an effort has rightly been applauded by many across Scotland, and thousands will benefit, sadly, the organisers were issued with four parking fines of £60 for parking illegally.

Many were outraged, but alarmingly, not all. One MSP, John Mason, even took to Twitter to if those organising “could have parked legally”

Celtic fans raised almost £18,000 and filled 9 vans as part of their food bank appeal.

But surely the better question is “Could common sense not have prevailed?”

After all, according to reports, police officers initially approached the group who weren’t parked near a residential area and let them carry on after they explained the reason why the vans were parked outside the stadium, so did four fines of £60 really have to be implemented?

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Surely as one of the main areas benefiting from the donations, Glasgow City Council should be praising the move and working towards supporting those giving their time to aid those volunteering for food banks.

Is £240 really better in the Council coffers than going towards a local food bank?

Glasgow, and the country as a whole, has seen a significant uptake in the number of people relying on food banks. Sadly, efforts from the public to raise money and goods for food banks are now needed and all causes to help them should be applauded, regardless of who is behind it.

Food collections should not be polarised through the tribal prism of football. Anyone can use and benefit from a food bank. They are open to all regardless of religion, ethnicity, age and certainly the football team you support.

Regardless of what colour scarf you wear or even whether you enjoy football or not, those who organise and volunteer to collect food for those in need should be championed, and certainly not fined £60 for a parking offence.

The crime here isn’t illegally parking. It’s the incompetence and lack of common sense on display, and those responsible must learn from their mistake or risk scoring another own goal.

If you want to find your nearest food bank you can do so by following this address.

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