SO, the gruesome twosome of Scottish Politics – the British Labour Party in Scotland and the Conservative and Unionist Party – North Britain Branch have flexed their muscle, and aided and abetted by the taxi-strength parties, led by Pinky and Perky – or Patrick Harvie and Willie Rennie, they have used their majority in Holyrood to have it agreed in principle, to scrap OBFA – the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.
James Kelly MSP and
They'll be dancing in the streets of Larkhall and Croy tonight right enough. Of course, this decision had nothing to do with football – well, maybe wee James Kelly will get to sit in a posher seat at Celtic Park, and Murdo Fraser might get closer to the power broker at Ibrox, but, mainly, it was just another way to say: “EssEnnPee BAD!! - and to give the SNP a rare kicking.
Murdo Fraser MSP - maybe hoping for better seats at the fitba
I have never deviated from the view, OBFA is bad law, badly written, hurriedly-introduced and not fit for purpose. It never would have and never will put an end to bigotry and sectarianism in Scotland; that sort of stuff is learned in the home, down the pub and doon at the ludge. It does not soley exist within football grounds, but, OBFA could have taken such behaviour out of our football grounds.
However, I have to say, faced with several thousand Rangers fans singing about being up to their knees in Fenian blood, or the same number of Celtic fans belting out one of their sectarian anth..., sorry, old Irish folk songs, with or without OBFA, the polis were never going to do more than make a few token arrests.
The other thing which has led us to today's ridiculous flexing of political muscle was the instigator of the repeal move, Labour MSP' Kelly's belief, the Act was designed to stop the Rangers fans singing – it was never meant to stop the Celtic fans, and, when this happened, he didn't like it.
There is only one way, in my view, based on thirty-plus years covering football, to stop offensive behaviour at football – and that is for the football authorities, to make clubs responsible for the behaviour of their fans, and, if these fans misbehave, then don't fine the clubs – deduct points.
I reckon, within weeks, offensive behaviour at football would be on the wane, and, by the end of the first season in which it happened, it would be over. It only needs the SFA to bite the bullet.
But, they will not,because they are scared shitless of the Bigot Brothers, and will never dare offend them and their Offensively Behaving Football Aficionados by clamping down on their offensive behaviour.
Rangers fans, 40-years on are still proving "Dan" Archer was right
The Bigot Brothers don't give a toss about their fans, and they certainly don't give a toss about their large lunatic fringes. Forty years ago, my hero and inspiration, the late Ian “Dan” Archer, as good a Partick Thistle man as ever drew breath, categorised the core Rangers support as: “A permanent embarrassment and occasional disgrace”. The green Brigade wasn't around then, or Dan might well have had the same thing to say about them.
Forty years ago, Rangers could have done something about their lunatic fringe, but they didn't. Celtic have delivered how many slapped wrists to the GB, and still they misbehave. Celtic have tried the carrot and stick approach, neither has worked – but, to be fair to the men at the top in the East End, they have tried harder to make the boys behave than their opposite numbers along Paisley Road West.
It would actually be very easy to shut them up. Perhaps the majority of the offensive singing is done by the hard core, the Bigot Brothers' away support. Now, since their total support is so-big, away tickets are almost rationed out, and mainly distributed via season ticket holders or official supporters clubs. So, it would not be too-difficult to work out that say, the members of official supporters club 1690 (to pluck a number out of thin air) was metaphorically: “Up to our knees in Fenian blood” at Dens Park one Saturday; then tell that club: “Sorry, your behaviour was unacceptable – you will not receive away tickets for the next three away games.”
As things stand, I can think of only one person who was ever named and shamed for singing offensive ditties – not at a football match, but at a post Cup Final victory celebration, and that person was a member of the Faculty of Advocates – Donald Findlay QC. This, of course, rather boots BLiS's (British Labour Party in Scotland's) claim the Act was an attack on the working classes into the long grass.
An oppressed member of the working class, reflects on being caught behaving offensively at football
In short order, the offensive singing would stop.
And, if a wee bit of marketing nous, membership benefits for good behaviour, a real and genuine effort to engage with the fans, was thrown in, the clubs would benefit too. A wee bit of imaginative thinking would go a long way, but, that said, thinking of any kind is discouraged in Scottish Fitba's corridors of power.
No, the Bigot Brothers only want the public to buy their season tickets and the official merchandise to turn up and hand over the cash – they don't give a toss about the offensive behaviour which drives people away from their games.
I repeat, again: if the clubs an the football authorities are not prepared to take a stand, and do something to cut-out offensive behaviour at football, then we will need OBFA, a better version of OBFA.
And the challenge to the Unionist political parties and to the Greens is this – OK, you have probably forced the repeal of OBFA – are you prepared to work, to co-operate with the Scottish Government and replace it with something better, something you can all agree is fit for purpose?
Or, is it simply, as I and plenty of other commentators believe it to have been, a shameful, not to say shameless exercise in EssEnnPee BAD!!!