ALEX Rae last night claimed hooliganism in Scottish football is now as bad as it was in the days of the notorious casuals back in the 1980s and has called on troublemakers to be banned for life and jailed.

Rae, the former Millwall, Sunderland, Wolves and Rangers midfielder, voiced his deep concerns about the rise in crowd unrest yesterday in the wake of another weekend of alarming incidents at grounds across the country.

Scott Sinclair, the Celtic winger, was nearly struck by a glass Buckfast bottle thrown by a Hibernian supporter as he went to take a corner during the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final at Easter Road on Saturday night.

And the following day followers of Rangers caused £3,000-worth of damage at Pittodrie by ripping up seats and throwing them at Aberdeen fans at the end of their quarter-final.

Those are just the latest in a long line of flashpoints which have horrified onlookers and tarnished the reputation of our national game during the 2018/19 campaign.

Rae confessed he had been stunned by the increase in disorder and urged everyone involved in the game – authorities, clubs, police and stewards – to take drastic action in order to stamp it out.

“We are at the stage where we need to address it and I would take a zero tolerance approach,” he said. “I would ban them for life and jail them.

“If we had serious punishments then it might act as a deterrent. There will be an element who will not buy into it, but it’s escalating and we need to get on top of it.

“You could lose your job, potentially go to jail, you could seriously injure a player. But it seems to be escalating and we need zero tolerance.

“If somebody throws a bottle or a coin I would ban them for life. If they are true fans the thought of losing their season ticket and not following their team for the rest of their days is a severe punishment.

“I think this recent spate is as bad as it has been since the mid-1980s when there was football violence involved. I can’t believe some of the stuff that’s going on now.

“It’s a minority, but how did we get to the place where someone goes to a game thinking he’s going to throw a bottle at a player’s head. They need to step back and think of the consequences?”

Rae, speaking at a Ladbrokes media event in Glasgow, stressed he was opposed to the introduction of strict liability, which would see clubs punished regardless of the measures they have taken to prevent trouble before a game and the actions they have taken to identify those responsible afterwards.

He believes the police could be far more proactive at matches than is currently the case.

“I think the police have a big role to play,” he said. “It’s difficult to say to a steward, on £8 per hour, to wade into a group of boys. More police presence to identify where is a bit lively would help.

“If the police did go in, identify the culprit and take them out there then that would have more of a deterrent. Take them out at source. There has to be a visual consequence for their actions. Then they might start thinking twice. People going in and out of games while intoxicated is also an issue.

“I was doing a bit for BT last year and I was getting pelted by pies and snowballs in Paisley. I know it is only snowballs and pies, but you are thinking to yourself ‘come on, is this acceptable?’ Nothing was actually done about it because stewards weren’t willing to go into that young team.

“Everybody has to take responsibility; the authorities, police, stewards, clubs. If they actually try and approach this in the right manner then we can actually start getting on top of it. We don’t want it to continue in the way it is going because it is just gathering pace.

“There’s no place for it. Everyone’s trying to get away from it. But there’s an element who are not buying into it. We need to change it with zero tolerance.”