Crowd trouble warning from government after Hibernian-Rangers disorder

Police stand guard on the Hampden pitch
Police formed an armed guard after supporters invaded the pitch

The Scottish government has told football authorities it could try to force them to deal with crowd trouble.

The warning follows the failure of disciplinary action over disorder at last season's Scottish Cup final between Hibernian and Rangers.

Scottish Football Association disciplinary charges against the clubs were dismissed by an independent judicial panel on Wednesday.

Rangers have also asked to know why no sanctions were imposed on Hibs.

The Scottish government said it was "disappointed" by the outcome.

"We have been clear that we will take steps if the progress we need to see isn't being made," said a spokesman.

"The disorder that marred the Scottish Cup final was unacceptable and we are disappointed by this outcome.

"It is essential that robust, meaningful measures are in place to allow such behaviour to be dealt with effectively."

No strict liability

More than 70 people have been arrested over the violent scenes that took place after Hibs lifted the cup for the first time since 1902 with a 3-2 victory.

But the SFA panel dismissed as "irrelevant" charges over damage to advertising equipment and, in the case of Hibs, the Hampden pitch and goalposts, following a mass pitch invasion by both sets of fans.

Neither club was punished because the SFA's disciplinary procedures are not underlined by "strict liability" - where clubs are responsible for their supporters' behaviour.

SFA members voted against the adoption of strict liability in 2013, while the Scottish Professional Football League similarly does not take action if clubs successfully argue they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent unacceptable behaviour among fans.

Any direct interference in the SFA's workings would not be popular with world governing body Fifa, which has issued bans to nations whose governments have become too closely involved with football federations.

Hibs lift the Scottish Cup
Hibs beat Rangers to lift the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902

However, the Scottish government spokesman said: "Independent research shows that fans overwhelmingly support the goal of eradicating offensive behaviour from matches.

"Our preference remains that football should proactively deliver a solution and we are continuing to work closely with the authorities and clubs to encourage them to do so."

Hibs welcomed the panel's decision on Wednesday and paid for damage caused when their fans invaded the pitch.

Rangers 'shocked', 'concerned' and 'astonished'

However, Rangers say they have "been left shocked by the SFA's approach to this vital safety issue and by the decision not to seek sanctions in respect of the assaults by Hibernian supporters on Rangers players and officials at the end of the cup final".

"The Scottish FA must have a basic duty of care to ensure the safety of players and officials in matches played in their competitions and at Hampden," the club said in a statement.

"Rangers were surprised and disappointed by the nature of the charges brought by the association, believing them fundamentally flawed from the outset and cannot understand why the focus seemed to be on compensating the association for damage to Hampden Stadium and items such as advertising hoardings and LED panels rather than ensuring the safety of players and officials.

"Rangers are concerned that adopting this approach will not dissuade supporters of other Clubs from coming onto the field of play and/or assaulting players and officials."

Rangers say they were also "astonished" that Hibs "were permitted to engage" the Scottish Professional Football League's solicitor to fight the charges being brought by the SFA.