The Jags Foundation welcomes the SFA, SPFL and SWPL’s joint statement opposing more onerous regulation of football supporters’ buses. We hope the widespread strength of feeling expressed across the Scottish footballing community encourages the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain to think again, and to drop their plans.
Effective and proportionate policing has to begin from a position of mutual trust between fans and law enforcement. The new proposals, to impose onerous burdens on supporters’ bus operations, aren’t just impractical and disproportionate. They risk breaking down the relationship between the police and football fans in Scotland.
The consultation document has provided absolutely no evidence linking the (largely isolated) incidents of fan disorder at Scottish football matches to supporters’ buses. At best, the proposals are likely to place an additional administrative burden on Police Scotland, and bus operators, for no tangible benefit.
For too long in Scotland, football fans have been an easy target for law enforcement and politicians. The truth is that, in several important respects, Scottish football fans are even more heavily regulated than their counterparts attending much higher attendance games in England.
Instead of imposing pointless new restrictions on supporters’ buses, the authorities should be considering whether some of the existing restrictions on Scottish football fans still have a place in 2023.
We applaud the efforts of Derek Watson, director of The Well Society at fan-owned Motherwell, for raising the profile of this issue. TJF looks forward to engaging with our members, and other groups in Scottish football, to get a sensible outcome from this consultation.