Ally McCoist: Jail thugs but don’t punish innocent fans with strict liability

Ally McCoist has backed harsher sentences for football hooligans but has rebuffed moves regarding the introduction of strict liability for clubs.

Rangers captain James Tavernier spots an object thrown from the Motherwell fans as he goes to take a throw-in. Picture: SNS

There have been suggestions that legislation will be introduced given the catalogue of incidents that have been televised at stadia across the country this season, with the government indicating its readiness to pass laws that would punish clubs for the behaviour of their fans.

This weekend saw a coconut and flares thrown on to the pitch at Tynecastle while Hibs midfielder Marvin Bartley was racially abused as he warmed up during the Edinburgh derby. Motherwell have already identified and reported a fan who threw a lighter at Rangers captain James Tavernier on Sunday.

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It comes on the back of Celtic midfielder Scott Sinclair being targeted with a bottle during a Scottish Cup clash at Easter Road, while a Hibs fan who confronted Tavernier at Easter Road has been sentenced to a 100-day jail stint and a ten-year ban from attending a football match. McCoist believes that hammering the loutish behaviour is the answer rather than punishing the majority.

“There’s lots of fans who work all the hours that God sends and they want to take their kids to a game of football,” said the 52-year-old. “That’s what they do and that’s what they’ve done with their dads too.

“How unfair would it be for the 99.9 per cent to get their whole weekend that they look forward to when they are working ruined by a couple of idiots.

“I would just go in and jail them and embarrass them. I think the police should be more hands on. I don’t know whether the police don’t want to be hands on in respect of they want the clubs and the SFA to police themselves, there might be an element of that.

“But I think now the time has come whether it’s racism, which I’m not sure we have a massive problem with – we have a problem with it – or religious bigotry or bampotism, I think the police have just got to go in and start arresting people and throwing them in jail.

“There has to be an individual responsibility. The police are sick of it, they should just go in and say ‘bang, nailed, there’s the evidence there on TV’ and start jailing people for not behaving themselves.”