SFA chief: George Square disorder on Rangers' trophy day 'is not a reason to introduce strict liability in Scottish football'

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell has dismissed calls for strict liability to be introduced in the aftermath of disorder in Glasgow’s George Square on the day Rangers lifted the Premiership trophy.

Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell estimates the governing body has lost £6 million in revenue during the cornavirus pandemic. (Photo by Gary Hutchison/SNS Group).
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell estimates the governing body has lost £6 million in revenue during the cornavirus pandemic. (Photo by Gary Hutchison/SNS Group).

Five police officers were injured and 28 people arrested amid the scenes on May 15 which prompted Humza Yousaf the then Justice Secretary, to warn that making clubs responsible for such behaviour was ‘on the table’ as far as the Scottish government were concerned.

Scottish clubs have consistently rejected the implementation of a strict liability system similar to the one enshrined in UEFA’s disciplinary procedures in which clubs are held accountable for any fan disorder inside their grounds.

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"The incident in George Square didn't happen in a football setting,” said Maxwell. “I'm not sure I see the relevance of strict liability in terms of that specific example and that's what everybody has been talking about.

"It happened outwith a stadium environment and if moronic behaviour like that happens outside the realms of the stadium, it's difficult to see how a football club can be responsible for that type of behaviour.

"The scenes were a disgrace. They were absolutely shocking and I can't comprehend why people would want to go and engage in that type of behaviour in any set of circumstances.

"They are not football fans and I don't think any club would want to be associated in any shape or form with individuals who behaved in that manner.

"Clubs are working hard. You saw players take the knee or make a stand against racism this season. Clubs do a lot of work to try to educate with messaging.

"It's been really difficult for people through the pandemic. They've missed football and they want to get back into stadiums.

"I'd hate to think that when they get back in the stadiums there would be that kind of negative behaviour and we want to focus on people enjoying the game."

Maxwell is looking forward to seeing 12000 fans inside Hampden for Scotland’s Euro 2020 matches this summer but remains unsure what kind of crowd numbers will be permitted for the 2021-22 domestic season.

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“It would be great to say to clubs when next season’s leagues start on August 1 that you are going to have x or y and you can budget accordingly,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re not there yet and when we’ll get to that point, we don’t know.

“We said we wanted to come out of the pandemic with the same number of clubs we had when we went into it. We’ve done that and that’s by and large down to the clubs. Obviously there was a bit of financial support from the government, which helped, but they have done really, really well in terms of managing budgets and navigating their way through what has been an incredibly difficult period.”

Maxwell estimates the coronavirus pandemic has cost the Scottish FA around £6 million in revenue.

“The vast majority of that is gate receipts,” he said. “Obviously that has an impact. We didn’t reduce any distributions to the clubs, we sustained them at the level we should have done, but obviously that means we have financial challenges to deal with. But as a business, I think we are in quite a strong place to drive the game forward.”

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