Strict liability: How did your club vote in fan misbehaviour survey?

A BBC survey aimed at finding out which Scottish football clubs backed strict liability in the wake of an increase in misconduct in the stands.

Kilmarnock take on Celtic as stewards deal with smoke bombs. UEFA fines clubs in European competitions through strict liability if their fans use pyrotechnics. Picture: SNS Group
Kilmarnock take on Celtic as stewards deal with smoke bombs. UEFA fines clubs in European competitions through strict liability if their fans use pyrotechnics. Picture: SNS Group

However, just three clubs out of the 42 league sides in Scotland threw their weight behind the measure in the poll carried out by BBC Sport.

What is strict liability?

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Strict liability, used by UEFA in European competitions, sees teams punished for the actions or conduct of its fans, regardless of whether the club is at fault. An example would be partial stadium closures over racist chanting, or fines for offensive banners or pyrotechnic use.

The following incidents can result in a club or association being subjected to disciplinary measures:

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- invasion / attempted invasion of the field of play

- throwing objects / missiles

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- lighting fireworks / other similar objects

- use of laser pens or similar devices

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- use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to send a “provocative message” not fit for a sports event e.g. political, ideological, religious or offensive

- acts of damage

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- causing a disturbance during national anthems

- any other disorder / lack of discipline in or around the stadium

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Why is it being discussed?

A steep rise in incidents in Scottish matches over the last six months - throwing of missiles, sectarian chanting, seats being thrown at rival supporters, fans entering the field of play in celebration, and to confront players plus use of pyrotechnic devices has led to club chiefs calling for action to be taken.

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In the aftermath of Hibs’ 1-1 draw with Rangers earlier this month, which saw a fan leave the home support and confront Light Blues captain James Tavernier on the pitch, chief executive Leeann Dempster said “nothing was off the table” in terms of a response to curb the misbehaviour.

Clarifying her comments days later, she said: “For the record, I did not “suggest” the closure of the East Stand, as has been claimed.

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“Asked a question, I gave an answer. Nothing is, or can be, off the table but it is clearly not my intention to immediately or negatively impact on the vast majority of well-behaved supporters who sit in that area.”

“Supporters will share my dismay that a minority are damaging the proud reputation of this wonderful club - founded as it was on principles of charity, tolerance, and inclusion.

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“I spoke of my anger at the conclusion of our recent match against Rangers at Easter Road.

“When we should have been talking about an exciting game and a performance of real character by our team, we have instead spent our time discussing the loutish behaviour of individuals who seem determined to ruin football for all of us. “It has to stop and we need your help to make Easter Road Stadium the vibrant, noisy, colourful, exhilarating but safe, welcoming and tolerant place it normally is.

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“Of course, the problems are not confined to this club. To suggest otherwise is a nonsense but we first must look after our own home and our reputation by facing into the issues we have experienced.

“Please, help us crack down on unacceptable behaviour. If you witness something that causes you concern during the match, let a steward know or write in to us, providing us with as much detail as you can.”

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What was the survey?

The BBC contacted each of the 42 SPFL clubs to seek their views on strict liability - but just three clubs backed the move: Championship pair Partick Thistle and Queen of the South, and League Two side Annan Athletic.

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Jags chief executive Gerry Britton told the BBC: “It’s a really difficult situation but I am of the view that we have to be self policing. That’s the only real way we are going to make a real impact and that’s to change behaviour. Taking people in isolation and putting him through the court, does it set an example? Yes. Does it have a real impact? I think it’s been shown it doesn’t.”

Fourteen clubs confirmed their opposition to the measure but 25 clubs, including ten of the 12 Scottish Premiership sides, refused to comment, or didn’t respond.

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How did your club respond?

Eight SPFL clubs neglected to respond to the survey, including Celtic, Rangers and Hearts. A total of 17 clubs didn’t wish to make any comment.

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Ladbrokes Premiership

Aberdeen - No comment

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Celtic - Did not respond

Dundee - No comment

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Hamilton - Against

Hearts - Did not respond

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Hibs - No comment

Kilmarnock - Did not respond

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Livingston - Did not respond

Motherwell - No comment

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Rangers - Did not respond

St Johnstone - Against

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St Mirren - No comment

Ladbrokes Championship

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Alloa Athletic - Against

Ayr United - No comment

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Dundee United - Did not respond

Dunfermline Athletic - No comment

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Falkirk - Did not respond

Inverness CT - No comment

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Morton - No comment

Partick Thistle - In favour

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Queen of the South - In favour

Ross County - No comment

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Ladbrokes League One

Airdrieonians - Against

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Arbroath - Against

Brechin City - No comment

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Dumbarton - Against

East Fife - No comment

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Forfar - No comment

Montrose - No comment

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Raith Rovers - No comment

Stenhousemuir - Against

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Stranraer - Against

Ladbrokes League Two

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Albion Rovers - Against

Annan Athletic - In favour

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Berwick Rangers - No comment

Clyde - Against

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Cowdenbeath - Against

Edinburgh City - No comment

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Elgin City - Against

Peterhead - Against

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Queen’s Park - Did not respond

Stirling Albion - No comment