FANS, clubs and the police need to work together to tackle sectarianism at football according to the MSP whose bill will scrap the controversial Offensive Behaviour Act.

James Kelly’s bill is almost certain to be passed this week by the Scottish Parliament with the backing of all four opposition parties.

Mr Kelly said a societal approach was needed not just targeting football fans but to stamp out bigotry and hatred at matches, then co-operation was required.

The Labour MSP for Glasgow said the act has hindered efforts to tackle sectarianism by creating mistrust between fans and police.

He said: “This law hasn’t worked in tackling bigotry and sectarianism. The legislation was contested and controversial.

“If we are serious about stamping it out we need to get the message through that it is unacceptable.

“But there are pre-existing laws to deal with it.” He said the section 38 law of religious aggravation is able to be used.

After the Act is scrapped he wants to see a greater focus on education programmes.

He said the government has “taken its eye off the ball” on anti-sectarian projects.

Mr Kelly added: “Funding has been reduced from three years ago. It is about more than funding though. It is about how we tackle sectarianism and the government should take the lead.”

He said it as unfair for football fans to be targeted by a law that says if something is done at a football match then it is a crime but not if it happens elsewhere.

He said that singling out of football has had a damaging effect.

Mr Kelly added: “There has been a breakdown of trust between fans and police and clubs and police as well.

He said the Scottish Football Supporters Association suggested a forum of fans, police and clubs which he said could improve relations and generate better understanding of what is acceptable and what is not.

The MSP said the statistics show there is a problem with sectarianism but it is not exclusive to football and the offensive behaviour act was disproportionate in targeting fans of the sport.

He said:” If you look at the statistics, last year there were 719 offences with a religious aggravator.

“But only 46 of them related to the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.”