I grew up in the 1980’s when all football fans were “scum” – ‘why can’t you behave like Rugby fans?’ was the cry you’d often hear and read in the media. Then came Bradford, Hillsborough etc. They took down the fences, treated us like humans and miraculously we started behaving like humans.
My dissertation for my degree was “Delictual liabilities of Sports Clubs to their Members and Spectators” (sounds riveting you say!). I studied all stadium disasters through the last 100+ years and read the transcripts for Hillsborough. Stamford Bridge, Hillsborough, Ibrox, Bradford etc. All these disasters where people died had commonality, they had the same basic problem of poor stadium design and an attitude to football fan management of containment and control, based upon the default position that football fans are ‘scum’ who are for the watching. All of that is the reason why I rail against any attempt by law-makers to associate societal problems with football – to say that football supporters are specifically uniquely misbehaving.
We had renowned expert on crowd management and policing Professor Clifford Stott on the podcast 5 years ago. He had previously been an advisor to Strathclyde police and we discussed policing at Scottish Football, The Dam Square issue and OBFA . In that podcast he told me that police in Scotland had been moving towards much reduced segregation. At Celtic v Rangers games (at Hampden especially) they had progressed so that the lost seats through segregation had halved. They had halved the number of stewards. One way around this was the police worked with the clubs on who got tickets close to opposing fans. Then Police Scotland was formed, Stephen House came in from England and the way they wanted to police crowds changed. It became more confrontational. Then they introduced OBFA. I have always thought it is no coincidence that there has been an increase in some of the less desirable songs since that point.