SNP, Labour and Scottish Greens condemn UK Government proposals for travelling football fans as 'unworkable’

Political figures united to condemn the plans, which would see restrictions placed on fans travelling by bus.

UK Government proposals that would place restrictions on football fans have been condemned by the SNP, Labour and Scottish Greens.

Called ‘Guidelines for taking passengers to sporting events in Scotland’, the consultation suggests limits on buses carrying fans to games north of the border.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn branded the restrictions for travelling football fans as “unworkable, unmanageable [and] unenforceable”, while shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray labelled them "nonsense".

The verbal attacks came as the UK Government published plans to bring football in Scotland in line with the "voluntary guidelines" in place in England and Wales.

This would include buses not being allowed within ten miles of a ground without police permission, buses not being allowed to stop at a pub for alcohol unless it is consumed with a meal, and banning those fans from arriving earlier than two hours before a game.

There would also be a requirement for a dedicated football officer to liaise with the bus companies providing details of the passenger numbers.

Mr Flynn, the Aberdeen South MP, claimed the plans would punish fans. He said: “These unworkable, unmanageable and unenforceable proposals belong in the bin.

Fans could face travel restrictions under the proposals.Fans could face travel restrictions under the proposals.
Fans could face travel restrictions under the proposals.

“Scotland’s football attendance, the highest in Europe, is something to be celebrated and encouraged, not punished as the Tories are seeking to do with these absurd suggestions. This will have a severe impact, not just on our football clubs, but the small businesses and firms who rely on matchday travel and footfall.

“At a time when Scotland is in the midst of a crucial European qualification campaign, it's telling that the UK Government would issue such a tone-deaf and damaging proposal for our game.”

Mr Murray, Labour’s Edinburgh South MP, called the proposals “nonsense” adding: “In my experience of travelling to away matches, the bus convenors and bus operators have always been responsible about who travels and where to.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"There’s no justification for such draconian rules that are trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. I would encourage the footballing authorities, clubs and supporters groups to come together and oppose this nonsense.”

There was also criticism from Scottish Greens sports spokesperson Gillian Mackay, who said the proposals were “unwarranted, unworkable and out of touch”.

She said: “The extra work and hurdles created could make it prohibitive for sports fans to travel to Scotland. The knock-on effect for small businesses could also be significant. Pubs and restaurants near football stadiums and other sporting venues rely heavily on passing trade on match-days. In a cost-of-living crisis, we should be creating opportunities for traders, not putting them under further pressure.

“We need to be working with sports clubs and supporter groups to ensure great days out for fans. These proposals need to be given the red card.”

Writing in the report, Richard Turfitt, senior traffic commissioner for Great Britain, asked for feedback on the proposals.

He said: “Having recently consulted on updating the guidelines for England and Wales, I believe that it would be appropriate to consult on the introduction of the voluntary guidelines for designated football matches held within Scotland. In order to help us understand whether the guidelines should be adopted in Scotland, we would like to hear from industry and its representatives and other stakeholders who have an interest in the carriage of football fans by PSVs.

"We invite you to offer your thoughts and contributions on the proposal. These guidelines have historically applied to Scottish operators when conveying passengers to all football matches in England and Wales, but have not previously been applied to matches held within Scotland.”



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.