This piece was in yesterday’s Herald, detailing out the full horrors of the aftermath of a Celtic v Rangers game. Like many reading this I do not see these problems after such games and appreciate that others are not so lucky. I do not deny these problems exist, but whilst Keevins and the like sit wringing their hands, commenting about how awful we dirty football fans are who is as asking the bigger questions about our society and the drink, drug and educational problems that lead to such Neanderthal behaviour. The Celtic v Rangers game may be the catalyst, but it is not the problem. Using BOTH clubs and their fans behaviour is just an easy excuse and prevents proper debate about why this violence occurs.
In that article Les Gray, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation comments that all of the problems regarding violence and domestic abuse are on the increase. That is despite the restrictions the police have put in place such as early kick offs and no league deciders. I cannot help but think that there is another motive to Mr Gray’s recent interview and that perhaps this article from the Scotland on Sunday is the reason. The article implies that police are taking advantage of the perception that without them no-one would be safe on match days to “extort” money from football clubs. Football fixtures are part of every day life so why the need for over time payments?
There is a deference on this matter that has allowed the police to dictate arrangements for football fixtures which are to the commercial detriment of our financially challenged game. Why are we just accepting that the police can’t deal with this and are they rolling out these figures in a lies, damned lies and statistics fashion?
The police are public servants, paid for by the tax payer to ensure that the laws of the government are adhered to and to ensure that the law abiding majority can go about their way safely. They are not there to proscribe their opinions to society. Once Mr Gray stuck his head above the parapet the decisions of the police were there to be scrutinised.
The police tell us that we cannot have Friday night football, that we cannot have Celtic v Rangers league deciders and that these games must kick off early on Saturdays and Sunday’s. If these basic tenants are ignored you and I will cause all sorts of problems. If Mr Gray wants to trot out some stats then the press should be challenging them,
How many special licenses are granted in Glasgow to allow pubs to open early on Celtic v Rangers match days?
How do the figures released this week for a Sunday league game compare with a Saturday cup final?
Early Kick Off
How do these figures for 12:30pm Sunday kick off time compare with 3pm cup final figures?
Evening Kick Offs
How do these figures compare with this Wednesday’s game which will kick off at 7:45pm on a work night?
I am in no way diminishing the problems of violence which undoubtedly occur following games against Rangers, but “banning” these games would not solve the underlying problem. If anything all this game does is allow lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth by Scotland’s “guardianistas” about how terrible the down market football fans are and ignore the real problems.
Scotland (and specifically the west of Scotland) has a problem. Sectarianism, racism, alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty, lack of education, lack of ambition, lack of opportunity…I could go on. Don’t blame the football; it’s just the touch paper. Solving these problems is huge and will take generations.
Blaming the football is just a lazy.