Strict liability 'doesn't work anywhere', says SPFL's Neil Doncaster

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SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster insists there is no evidence strict liability works.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster insists strict liability does not work "anywhere in the world" while stressing clubs do take responsibility for fans.

A BBC Scotland survey in March revealed only three out of 42 sides backed clubs being held accountable for misconduct.

Last season, Neil Lennon had an object thrown at him, as did players and officials, while Steve Clarke and Derek McInnes spoke out against sectarianism.

"There's a misconception about strict liability," said Doncaster.

"Some see it as the answer to unacceptable conduct. If you look at the experience that Uefa have with European competition, it's clear that strict liability doesn't work.

"You can end up punishing the innocent home clubs and if you start to make away clubs responsible of their fans, very quickly you will see away clubs stopping selling tickets to the away fans, putting greater onus on often smaller home clubs.

"I've never seen any examples of it working anywhere throughout the world."

Partick Thistle, Queen of the South and Annan Athletic were the only clubs to give their support to strict liability in the BBC Scotland survey on the back of a series of incidents over the last campaign.

A total of 14 clubs said they were against strict liability, 17 were not willing to comment, and eight did not respond.

Hibernian banned three fans in the wake of a 1-1 draw at Easter Road with Rangers in March, at which James Tavernier was confronted, while Motherwell banned a supporter for throwing an object at the Ibrox captain at Fir Park in April.

Hearts closed a section of their Tynecastle home for the final two home games of the season in an attempt to curb fan misbehaviour.

"They do [take responsibility]. We very much welcome the actions that have been taken by various clubs this year," Doncaster told BBC Scotland.

"They have identified individuals using CCTV, and I think enhanced CCTV will be very much part of the future.

"I think you get unacceptable conduct across Europe. It's not something unique to Scotland by any means.

"What is important is the clubs do everything they reasonably can to prevent incidents of unacceptable conduct from occurring. They deal with them appropriately in the moment and following the match they take action.

"It's important to stress it only happens in the minority of matches and it's a very small minority who engage in this behaviour."

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Only three SPFL clubs support misbehaviour measure

How does Uefa describe strict liability?

All associations and clubs are liable for the following inappropriate behaviour on the part of their supporters and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives even if they can prove the absence of any negligence in relation to the organisation of the match:

  • The invasion or attempted invasion of the field of play
  • The throwing of objects
  • The lighting of fireworks or any other objects
  • The use of laser pointers or similar electronic devices
  • The use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit a provocative message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly provocative messages that are of a political, ideological, religious or offensive nature
  • Acts of damage
  • Causing a disturbance during national anthems
  • Any other lack of order or discipline observed inside or around the stadium

This season, Rangers were fined 16,000 euros (£14,000) after incidents during their Europa League group-stage game against Villarreal at Ibrox, at which objects were thrown and a supporter ran on to the pitch.

And Hibernian had to pay 8,000 euros (£7,235) following the use of fireworks and the throwing of objects in the away leg of their Europa League qualifier against Asteras Tripolis.

In previous campaigns, Celtic have been repeatedly fined for a range of offences, including fans running on to the field, chants and banners deemed to be offensive, and the use of pyrotechnics.

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