Facial recognition plan has ‘no chance of going ahead’

Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney. Picture: SNS
Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney. Picture: SNS
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A proposal to introduce facial recognition technology in football stadiums looks to have hit the buffers after the Scottish Government told the SPFL it would not fund it.

The league had asked for £4 million for a scheme designed to tackle offensive behaviour from next season. But community safety minister Paul Wheelhouse said the funding request had been rejected.

Alloa chairman Mike Mulraney, one of the leading campaigners for facial recognition, conceded the idea was now unlikely to go ahead.

“It was part of a consultation process. Now we’ve established that’s unlikely to be supported or is not going to be supported by the government at this time then it’s almost certainly no chance of this going ahead I would suggest,” Mulraney told STV.

The idea came to fruition following a space of incidents in Scottish football grounds, including sectarian singing and flares being let off.

The new technology would help identify culprits, it was claimed.

But the plan was criticised by supporters’ groups, who called it intrusive.

Wheelhouse said the government could not justify the expense.

He told STV: “The specific proposal that has been put to us is not one that we can accept. We feel there are a number of concerns about it.

“We’ve had an open discussion with SFA and the SPFL about the proposals but ultimately it’s an issue for Scottish football to resolve and we’re happy to work with the footballing authorities in doing so but there are some concerns about the proposal that came forward. It’s a hugely challenging time for public finaces.

“We do recognise the financial constraints which football clubs are working within but we feel it’s hard to justify expense on this when public resources are very much challenged at this moment in time.

“We do feel it’s something Scottish football has to resolve itself and put it’s house in order but we’re willing to work with the footballing authorities and keen to do so.”