SFA to discuss tough new discrimination measures

Stewart Regan: Scottish regulations are 'not as robust as those adopted by UEFA'. Picture: PAStewart Regan: Scottish regulations are 'not as robust as those adopted by UEFA'. Picture: PA
Stewart Regan: Scottish regulations are 'not as robust as those adopted by UEFA'. Picture: PA
THE Scottish Football Association could tomorrow vote through tough new measures - including stadium closures - in a bid to halt the spread of discriminatory behaviour.

Among the new deterrents being considered by the governing body are a minimum five-game ban for offending players as well as points deductions and stadium bans for clubs who allow fans to shout racist and offensive chants.

The punishments will be considered when the SFA holds its Annual General Meeting at Hampden.

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Both FIFA and UEFA have taken up strict stances on tackling unacceptable conduct in recent months and the SFA say they are now adopting the same “zero-tolerance” attitude.

Campbell Ogilvie, the SFA president, and chief executive Stewart Regan both attended the FIFA Congress two weeks ago, where measures to eliminate racist and other discriminatory behaviour were discussed.

Now they say with the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League on the verge of a merger, it is time to take a proactive approach to discriminatory behaviour both on and off the pitch.

Regan said: “Currently the regulations in Scotland are not as robust as those adopted by UEFA. The ability to take stronger action should act as a deterrent, as it does when you look at instances during European matches.

“Essentially, the resolution is about asking the members: ‘what do you want for the future atmosphere inside our grounds?’.

“At a time when we are looking to unite the two league bodies, we should be doing all we can to enhance the atmosphere and to encourage and excite a new generation of supporters.”

A total of 45 resolutions will be discussed at the Hampden meeting - with a 75 per cent majority required to pass each motion.

As well as the beefed-up measures to tackle racism, the SFA members will vote on matters including a plan to do away with associate memberships of the SFA.

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Currently, any club applying to join the body must serve five years as an associate member before it is granted full status.

That included Rangers after they were reformed as a newco following their liquidated last summer but now the SFA will only grant full memberships providing applicants meet certain criteria.

A measure to expand the definition of a club to include its owner or operator will be considered too, as well proposals for the creation of a new Lowland League.

The new set-up is a key part of the pyramid structure recommended in the McLeish Review of Scottish Football.

If approved, a new Lowland League could be formed in time for the start of next season, clearing the way for play-offs to the bottom tier of senior football.

“It is a really exciting development and something the Scottish FA has supported as part of the five principles for league reconstruction - a single league body, fairer financial distribution, parachute payments, play-offs and the pyramid,” said Regan.

“It is important that we recognise and support those clubs currently out with senior football who aspire to reach the top.

“We have seen it most recently with the rise of Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County from the Highland League but do we really want a situation where the only way those clubs can join is at the expense of another club who has gone bust?

“There has to be a meritocracy in the bottom tier of the senior game and the pyramid will provide greater competition.”