Scottish football is in crisis amid fan trouble, says police chief

Scott Brown
Scott Brown's post-match celebration caused controversy

Player behaviour in Sunday's Old Firm derby was "unacceptable", Scottish Police Federation vice-chairman David Hamilton says.

And Hamilton claims Scottish football is in a "crisis" that will turn people away from the game amid a rise in fan trouble this season.

Celtic's 2-1 home win over Rangers featured two red cards, several flashpoints and a post-match melee.

"That winds the crowd up," Hamilton told BBC Scotland's Sportsound.

Rangers pair Alfredo Morelos and Andy Halliday were shown red cards for clashes with Celtic captain Scott Brown, whose celebrations in front of the away fans at full-time led to the confrontation with Halliday and sparked a mass fracas.

Some Celtic fans spilled on to the pitch after their side's opener and flares were also thrown during the match.

"It's despairing the way some fans are behaving in Scottish football," Hamilton said. "We're seeing an escalation in violence both in terms of severity and frequency.

"At the weekend, some of the officers who were working at Celtic Park were saying it's the worst they've seen in 15-20 years of service. An officer had a flash-bang thrown at him that just missed his head."

Hamilton said picking out the culprits was made more difficult by fans taking measures to avoid being identified.

"People are hiding behind banners and flags, some of which are being stored in the stadium by the clubs," he said. "It's absolutely extraordinary.

"We're seeing a lack of stewarding, very few numbers dealing with some of the most difficult people. It's not a police issue to deal with us. We get nothing back from the clubs."

Brown's behaviour 'first class' - Kennedy

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard claimed Brown should be punished for provoking his players after both Morelos and Ryan Kent lashed out at the Celtic skipper.

However, Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy insists Brown's behaviour was "first class".

"People are picking on Scott and trying to make an issue with him," Kennedy said. "He conducted himself very well in our eyes. Not just on Sunday but in the main.

"There is a coming together at the end of the game. People are trying to make an issue with Scott, but the game finished in that corner.

"Everyone is in that corner, the final whistle blows and, as always, there is a celebration."

'Something has to be done' - MSP Dornan

Scottish National Party MSP James Dornan is putting forward a members' bill that would introduce strict liability in Scottish football and make clubs responsible for their fans' behaviour.

It is in response to an increase in crowd disturbances, including sectarian singing, coin throwing and fans getting on the pitch.

"I have the cross-party support to go ahead with the bill and there's a head of steam growing in Scotland that something has to be done about football," Dornan said.

"It was a mistake to repeal the Offensive Behaviour At Football Act and something has to be put in its place."

'Can't always blame the players' - analysis

Former Rangers and Scotland striker Billy Dodds

You can't blame the players all the time. Scott Brown shouldn't have been going to the Rangers fans, but a lot of times, fans are going to do what they want to do and get on the pitch.

Neil Lennon was attacked in a dugout {at Tynecastle in 2011 during his first spell as Celtic manager]. That wasn't because he was doing anything.

I wasn't sure about strict liability, but the more it's happening, I'm siding with it. But I want it done in the right manner.

Former Hibernian and Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart

The football authorities have to be involved in shaping whatever happens here. It has to be a broad church that comes up with the solution rather than the government just passing legislation.

Some form of strict liability has to be brought in. Even just the beginning of a full and frank discussion about it. It's unacceptable the clubs won't even discuss it.

In terms of what happened on the park on Sunday, it wasn't mental or crazy. There were a few moments, but not anything that was exceptional for Celtic-Rangers games. There has to be an element of calmness brought to it.

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