The police in Glasgow might have been lax in enforcing the law in George Square, and we all have complaints about that, but they know who they blame for the events that took place; documents which the Scottish Government has released on a Freedom Of Information basis reveal how furious they are about the club’s behaviour in the lead-up to the event.
This website and others have been saying right from the start that Gerrard, his players and the club itself actively encouraged the bad behaviour of the fans.
This was evident during two away matches and the St Mirren home game, where they brazenly celebrated the law-breaking behaviour of their supporters, undercutting the public statements asking them to observe it.
“The (team) engaged the crowd through gates and by hanging out of open windows despite assurances from the club that no such activities would happen,” the police documents say.
“Further engagement did not result in any further statement relating to fan behaviour or responsibilities being issued, despite numerous statements encouraging celebration, including from the manager … both the manager and players actively engaged from within the stadium with fans gathered in disgraceful displays of encouragement, in solid opposition to the public safety issues arising, to their responsibilities given the privileges under which football operates, and to the commitments they had made around public communications.”
The Glasgow police have, in my view, made a good argument in favour of SFA sanctions against the club.
The old argument which they deploy is that they “did all they could” to prevent trouble, but the police have said that’s not the case, that they, in fact, have openly encouraged their fans to gather in violation of the law in spite of giving assurances to the contrary.
This whole series of events has shown every aspect of the club in the worst possible light, and this comes on the night when Police Scotland say that they cannot “establish criminality” in relation to the video of Ibrox players singing sectarian songs.
Please note, they are not saying the video is fabricated as the Ibrox club appeared to suggest; on the surface of it, their statement tonight appears to conifrm that it’s entirely genuine.
The SFA is now facing the prospect of opening up a major set of charges … and based on the reaction to the Slavia Prague incident it will be interesting to see how they handle it.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the club could have limited the PR damage to itself had it simply acted more responsibly.
One media outlet has already said that this has hurt the “relationship” the club has with the police … well what a pity.
It’s like saying that arresting mafia members has ruined their good view of the authorities.
Nobody at Police Scotland should be losing any sleep over it.