SIOBHIAN Brown, the Minister for Victims and Community Safety, today dismissed the need for the Scottish government to appoint a Minister for Football and backed the SFA, SPFL and Police Scotland to tackle the rise in pyrotechnic use and crowd disorder at matches.

James Dornan, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, asked Brown about the discussions which had been held last month about the illegal use of flares, smoke bombs, strobes and rockets by supporters inside stadiums during a debate at Holyrood.

A summit involving representatives of the SFA, SPFL, Scottish government, Football Safety Officers Association Scotland and Police Scotland was held at Hampden and a coordinated action plan is currently being drawn up.

The talks came after the cinch Premiership match between Dundee and Rangers at Dens Park last month had to be suspended for 18 minutes when a coordinated flare display staged by travelling fans in the Bob Shankly Stand triggered fire alarms. 

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“The Scottish government has been engaging regularly with the SFA and the SPFL for some time, about our shared concerns over the misuse of pyrotechnics in football,” said Brown.

“Most recently, I met with the SPFL and SFA and Football Safety Officers Association Scotland last week, where we agreed on the need for a multi-agency approach to tackle this issue. And I look forward to working with football and other key partners to develop this approach in coming weeks.”

Dornan is a long-term advocate of Scottish football following the lead of the European and English games and strict liability, which sees clubs punished for the misconduct of their followers regardless of what measures they had put in place to ensure order beforehand, being introduced in this country.

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Westminster announced earlier this year that an independent regulator for English football would be created down south after receiving the results of a fan-led review which was chaired by former sports minister Tracey Crouch in the wake of the European Superleague controversy.

Dornan believes that a similar position needs to be created in Scotland in order to address the escalating pyrotechnic problem and crowd misconduct. 

He said: “Isn't it the truth that to date neither the football authorities, the police nor the clubs themselves, have been willing to take the required action to combat the illegal use of these extremely dangerous fireworks. 

“And given the unwillingness for strong action to be taken, and the lack of political will within football for the, in my view, strongly overdue introduction of some kind of strict liability, will the Scottish government commit to taking seriously the introduction of a minister for football?

“Such as has been introduced for English football by the Westminster government to tackle both the issue of pyros and many of the anti-social and illegal behaviours regularly seen in Scottish football clubs.”

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However, Brown said: “Our preferred solution has always been that the footballing authorities themselves are proactively involved in delivering a robust and lasting solution to tackle any unacceptable conduct by what is a minority of people.

“From my recent discussions with those involved, I know that there is a collective will to try and tackle this. And as I've already indicated, we will be taking forward a multi- agency approach to tackle this issue.

“I look forward to working with our partners on this and I know that Police Scotland will continue to engage the SFA and the SPFL in regard to the new fireworks legislation, and ongoing issues at individual fixtures.”

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