Home News Scots football fans face banning orders if caught using pyrotechnics in stadiums
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Scots football fans face banning orders if caught using pyrotechnics in stadiums

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Supporters could be threatened with banning orders if they are found utilising pyrotechnics in stadiums, a measure being mulled over by the Scottish Government and football authorities. The employment of flares and smoke bombs has surged in recent times, regardless of constant cautions against their utilisation by teams and law enforcement.

Last year’s legislation has already made it unlawful to bring fireworks or flares to football games. The SNP ministers have now gathered a task force with SPFL, SFA, and Police Scotland to examine if the current football banning orders (FBO) programme should be expanded to target supporters found with pyrotechnics. FBOs can be issued by a court for a period of up to 10 years for violent offences at games – which could encompass throwing a lit pyrotechnic as an offensive weapon.

The task force’s objective will be to determine if expanding the scope of FBOs would be an effective method to further discourage the carrying and misuse of pyrotechnics. Community Safety Minister Siobhian Brown expressed that everyone should have the capability to appreciate the thrill and ambiance of a football match without having to worry about the risk of severe injury due to pyrotechnics.

“We’ve significantly strengthened pyrotechnic laws. Despite this, pyrotechnic misuse at football matches still continues to be an issue. We’ve consulted closely with the governing bodies of football and police on what more can be planned to address this antisocial and hazardous behaviour at football games,” Brown said.

Football Banning Orders, which can last up to 10 years, are already a potent measure the courts utilize to address violent behaviour. Brown has asked the task force to ponder whether broadening their reach would serve as an additional deterrent to the possession and misuse of pyrotechnics. The clampdown announcement coincides with today’s Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Rangers at a packed Hampden Park. It’s the first time in two decades that the Glasgow powerhouses have clashed at this stage of the revered contest.

Last season, the kick-off at the Scottish Cup semi-final between the two teams was postponed due to fans igniting flares inside the venue. There was also a break in the Premiership match between Dundee and Rangers in November, due to flares causing an 18-minute delay by filling Dens Park with smoke. This set off the fire alarm, and players had to be taken off the pitch. A serious incident in April left a young supporter with a lifetime scar after being hit in the face by a flare during a match.

Levi Rennie, a 10-year-old Dundee fan, was at the away end at McDiarmid Park for his team’s match against rivals St Johnstone when the terrifying incident took place. The dreadful incident burnt through the skin of his face, close to his left eye, with his family informed that he could have lost his sight due to the lit explosive striking his face.

Soon after, the youngster was greeted with an invitation to attend a Glasgow training session with his Dundee heroes to help him cope with his horrifying ordeal. Authorities and police in the world of football hope the threat of banning orders will deter fans from bringing flares to games.

“The risks of pyrotechnics in crowded football stadia are considerable, and our clubs are eager to work with the Scottish Government, police, and the courts to identify effective ways to tackle this growing problem,” said Calum Beattie, SPFL chief operating officer.

Recent surveys have shown that most fans believe these devices have no place at football games. The review will work closely with partners to examine how football banning orders can be part of a package of deterrents for fans tempted to sneak these hazardous items into grounds, says Superintendent Chris Stewart of Police Scotland. He assured that the public’s right to safety at games will always be respected and that they will continue to work with clubs to keep games safe and secure.

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