Partick Thistle FC logo
Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC

Strict liability – supporter feedback

What is it?

Strict Liability is one of the most contentious issues in Scottish football at the moment. It is currently the UEFA standard for tackling offensive behaviour at a football match. 18 sanctions for clubs are detailed, including warnings, fines, annulment of the result of a match, ordering that a match be replayed, the closure of sections of grounds, playing matches behind closed doors and the docking of points. This strict liability system could be used as the template for the operation of a similar system in Scotland.

For example, both Rangers FC and Celtic FC have been punished on this basis in the past by UEFA. In 2006, Rangers was fined £21,000 after its fans sang sectarian songs in a match against Villarreal from Spain. In 2007, Celtic was fined £25,000 after a supporter ran onto the pitch at Celtic Park during a game against AC Milan.

Is it in place anywhere else?

In 2015, the English FA introduced the measures.

What’s being proposed?

James Dornan MSP is consulting on his proposal for a Bill to make Scottish professional football clubs strictly liable for their supporters’ negative behaviour, whether racist, homophobic, sectarian, sexist, violence etc. (meaning any supporters in the home sections if we are at Firhill or any in the away section if we are away from home) If it wishes, the Club Board can respond to the proposal by 17 March this year.

As with the UEFA model, a system of sanctions would be applied to clubs in response to the bad behaviour of fans, without having to establish any connection between the club’s behaviour and that of the fans – even in a case where the club had taken steps to prevent or discourage that behaviour.

Having this sort of strict liability system of sanctions for clubs in place would of course not prevent the police and prosecutors pursuing individual fans through the courts for their behaviour through criminal charges in addition to holding the clubs themselves responsible.

The focus on strict liability appears to have been sharpened by the Scottish Cup Final 2016 – it is claimed that with strict liability in place, action could have been taken against both clubs.

James Dornan MSP said himself “If my proposal was never to become law because the SPFL and SFA agreed to become much more open and transparent then I’d be more than happy to drop it.” It is not an Act at present as he is seeking the widest views on his proposal.

Are there any other options?

The SPFL, SFA and Scottish Government are reviewing the current disciplinary system with a view to making changes ensuring a judicial system approved by all is in place going forward.

No proposal has been produced as yet.

What are the next steps?

The Club Board will be responding to the consultation document before the March 17th deadline and will do so in the best interests of the Partick Thistle Football Club. They have asked the Trustees of the Partick Thistle Football Club Trust to feedback thoughts from our supporters prior to any response being submitted.

So what the Trust would like to know from you is:

1.    Do you support strict liability as proposed?

2.    Would you like to wait to see the proposals, which the SPFL and government propose before deciding to go ahead with Strict Liability?

3.    In any new system, what behaviours should be covered?

4.    In any new system, what should the sanctions be?

5.    As a Club, regardless of strict liability, do you feel we have a problem with negative behaviours from Jags fans?

To answer these questions, please click here and follow the instructions. Responses can be submitted until Friday 10th March 2017.

Individual fans and groups can also respond and the consultation document and the questionnaire are here.

< Back