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The SFSA Is Right On Pyro. But They Shouldn’t Hold Their Breath Waiting For People To Act.

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The Scottish Football Supporters Association is an organisation a lot of folks will not have heard of, but all of us should sign up and join them. You’ll notice I include myself in there. I have not yet done so, and I should have done it ages ago, because I really respect their work and they understand the issues which we’ve talked about again and again on this site.

Yesterday, or rather last night, they spoke out about pyro and they called upon the SFA, the SPFL and the clubs to get serious and tough on this. I echo that view. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. None of those things are going to happen without a serious push, and a serious push like that isn’t going to come from a fan organisation.

Could the governing bodies do it? Of course they could. But it would involve getting far tougher than they are willing to be. None of them is going to introduce meaningful UEFA style sanctions, like fines, closing stands or anything else … something like that would move the needle. Points deductions would move it even further but that’s a fantasy option because nobody would stand for that. But without drastic action, you’re left with talk.

And talk is not going to get this done.

For openers, where is the conversation going to start?

With those responsible? Fat chance. Too many of the people who do this stuff are wired to the moon. They cannot engage with this on a “real-world” basis. They demand that clubs bow down to their whims. What they are really asking for is for clubs to aid and abet in breaking the law, and there are so many implications to that it’s difficult to know where to start. The very idea of it is utterly moronic.

The police are reluctant to enforce the law in a way that would work; in the absence of searching everyone, or charging into sections the minute something happens, if fireworks are used in-game, you’d need them to kettle fans in their seats after matches until they can identify culprits. Use that strategy once and see what results you get. Celtic has tried to implement a “no-masks or face-coverings” policy inside the ground; that, of course, is openly flaunted.

The police does not lend assistance to the club in this respect.

So the governing bodies don’t appear willing to act and the police appear unwilling to uphold the law in any meaningful way. I suspect they want this left to the clubs, and actually there are things that the clubs could do that they have not.

Pyro is used in just one section of the stadium.

Sealing that section properly so that fans from other sections cannot crowd there, and enforcing rigorous searching regimens would work to an extent.

Fitting scanners, which can detect firework residue on hands or on shoes, in certain parts of the ground, is an option and one the club should certainly explore as part of its strategy … the instillation would not be cheap, but it would be cheaper, cumulatively, than all those UEFA fines and it will certainly be safer than the inevitable closure of a stand.

Celtic will act. Celtic will act because Celtic has been acting. Celtic is one of the few clubs in this country which has shown sufficient seriousness in dealing with this. We have banned one of the main fan groups for this stuff and other infractions; how much more seriously can we take it? The club has held out an olive branch to those fans, and made the peace, but the truth is that it’s a fragile peace and not likely to last long term.

But Celtic has done more, far more, than other clubs have. Hell, Ibrox didn’t condemn its fans when it wished death on a guy lying prone on the pitch at Easter Road. It said not one word in condemnation after the dreadful events at their own stadium when we visited there last month; that club does not take this any more seriously than it took the safety of our fans, and we had to ban theirs from our ground to get them to move on that.

A lot of clubs don’t want the argument with their own fans on this. Leaving it to most of the clubs is for their birds, and someone will be very seriously injured or dead before they snap into action and realise what they should have done ages ago.

The reason the SFFA is talking about this at all is that the number of pyro incidents in grounds has risen, and the number of injuries has, unfortunately, risen in proportion to it, with an incident at Dens involving a young fan particularly horrific and where we all dodged a bullet. But that bullet is on its way and it will hit a club at some stage … and then all bets are off.

In the meantime, all the stakeholders continue to stand around and look at each other as though baffled as to who is supposed to be leading. This is where strong governing bodies would govern … ours are not in the least bit interested in doing so.

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  • Effarr says:

    Where do these people get these things anyway? Banning the sale of them without a permit
    would help slightly, the same with fireworks, although I suppose they are bought online.
    Catching someone on camera lighting one should mean the hands up the back and frog marched to a padded, “good-kicking cell and the season ticket taken away for life.

    Banning individuals on a regular basis would be better than banning whole groups. If they
    were stuck in the house on their own on a Saturday they would realise that being an amateur
    martyr for their so-called pals doesn`t seem a good idea when you know you will never be able to join them again at a game.

    At the end of the day, the biggest culprit is not the one possessing these things, it is the
    one who lights them. They would maybe think twice if they knew they were on camera and
    soon to be ejected as soon as they lit the match.

    Sometimes chipping away at an immovable object is better than battering on to it with a
    16lb mallet.

  • scousebhoy says:

    i would think the person who smuggles these things into the stadium is the more guilty one.

  • Gerry says:

    Yeah, you are correct in that a supporters association might not have the clout to get things changed…but it’s heartening to read and hear of them giving it a go !

    Our governing bodies are an absolute joke, and why we need reform and change in both the SFA and SPFL, sooner rather the later.

    These bodies should be working in harmony to advance, promote and galvanise our game to the highest levels.

    Safety at grounds should be paramount, and have we to witness a fatality through pyro, or even worse, offensive weapons taken into grounds and used nefariously? ( we all remember the ‘weapons in bin,’ incident at Ibrokes from Jan 2023!)

    You mention those at the Crumbledome…Statement FC are rarely slow in releasing a communique if they feel they’ve been wronged.

    The fact that they’ve never condemned their fans’ offensive chants and thuggery towards our team and officials…or been taken to task, says it all about them and the football governance in Scotland !

    An absolute joke!

    I applaud the SFSA, and any topics that they might be able to get a wider debate and ‘possible’ action on !

  • Dan says:

    Great piece James. Neds spoiling the match experience should be banned for life. CCTV surely clearly shows who is holding the flares

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    These pyro things weren’t really there when I was in ma heyday of going to Parkhead every fortnight…

    And as an asthma sufferer using inhalers I’m glad that they weren’t –

    But even above ma health issues – My concern is their lack of concern – for the trouble that it brings to the front door of Celtic FC…

    And you can bet your last red cent that the perpetrators won’t be queuing up to the front door bank cards in hand volunteering to pay the penalty fines that their carnage inevitably brings to Celtic !

  • Joe McQuaid says:

    Not sure if this would be allowed but what if Celtic set off their own pyro, say 5-10 minutes before kickoff which would obviously be set up to be safe and a spectacle? Would the little Ned then want to follow up with his equivalent of a sparkler?

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