THE carefully coordinated and large-scale pyrotechnic displays which the supporters of several Scottish football clubs staged at showpiece games in the second half of last season drew both condemnation and the promise of action.

Politicians were quick to denounce the scenes which were witnessed at the Viaplay Cup and Scottish Cup semi-finals at Hampden and stress that Police Scotland officers would soon have increased powers which they could use to tackle what is a growing issue on match days.

MSPs at Holyrood passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act in June last year and this summer police in this country finally, after further legislation was approved, got the all clear to act on intelligence and stop and search anyone they believe may be carrying a flare, smoke bomb, strobe or rocket outside of a stadium without warrant.

Elena Whitham, the then Minister for Community Safety, expressed hope back in March that the ultra element among fanbases would think twice before committing what has long been a criminal offence and endangering the wellbeing of those around them when they saw the new measures in force.

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“What the act strives to achieve is prevention wherever possible,” she said. “It means action can be taken at an earlier stage and deters those who may be tempted to carry a pyrotechnic into a crowded public event.”

Those Rangers supporters who set off numerous orange and blue – the colours of their team’s new away strip - smoke canisters before kick-off in the Ibrox club’s opening cinch Premiership match against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last Saturday evening had clearly been unperturbed about being nicked as they made their way down to Ayrshire.

And why would they? Keeping incendiary devices out of grounds which house thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of people is an impossible task for governing bodies, clubs, police and stewards irrespective of what laws are in place.

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Once they are through the turnstiles, too, fans know they can set off their chosen firework without being lifted. Wading in to a crowd to apprehend somebody who is brandishing a implement that is burning at a high temperature and is emitting toxic gasses would be dangerous in the extreme.

The balaclavas which the perpetrators wear to cover their faces mean they can’t be identified or arrested afterwards even if they are caught on CCTV. One of those involved in the pre-match spectacle at Rugby Park stood bare-chested with his smoke grenade attached to the end of a pole.

The fact the “no pyro, no party” brigade were out in force before Rangers had even kicked a ball in a competitive fixture at the weekend highlighted that this problem will not be extinguished by the new police powers.

Champions of pyrotechnics at football, who believe they enhance the match day experience and add to the atmosphere of the occasion, argue that very few, if any, casualties occur as a result of their use.

That may or may not be the case. But the potential for harm, for fatalities even, is very, very real. Asthmatics and epileptics are particularly vulnerable.

READ MOREHow football in Norway has pioneered safe pyrotechnic areas in grounds

Those on the field of play – as we saw at Tannadice back in December when a flare thrown onto the pitch missed Aberdeen player Ryan Duncan by a matter of inches – are at risk as well.

The repeated exposure to the fumes which fireworks emit – and sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide at in the near vicinity can be 10,000 times the permitted levels – can have long-term health implications as well.   

So what, if anything, can be done? Something has to be.

Would the introduction of safe pyrotechnics sections, where specially trained fans can ignite specific devices at agreed times before putting them out in sand buckets, at stadiums make a difference?

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These have been in place at many clubs in Norway for years and the football federation there have publicly acknowledged they have significantly reduced, if not snuffed out altogether, their illegal use in packed stands.

Would they deter those who revel in the lawlessness of their conduct? It is difficult to imagine them standing back and admiring the display from afar without getting involved. It is an integral part of the ultra culture.

Anyway, are the authorities in this country really going to sanction such a radical move? Alcohol inside grounds has been banned here for 43 years. 

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Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, stated he would be open to holding talks with all the relevant stakeholders about the matter last season in the wake of the Viaplay Cup semi-final between Celtic and Rangers.

It would perhaps be better if the SFA, the SPFL and their member clubs took the initiative themselves.

Meaningful and ongoing dialogue with supporters would be no bad thing. Launching a nationwide campaign warning of the dangers of pyrotechnics at football and appealing to fans to think twice before sparking up a Fumogeno Manna would be a step in the right direction.

Making more of an example of offenders would maybe help too. A Celtic fan was yesterday ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work by a judge at Glasgow Sherriff Court for setting off a flare at Parkhead in February.

The powers-that-be should not sit on their hands and wait for a serious, possibly even a tragic, accident before acting.