Scots football fans face banning orders if caught using pyrotechnics in stadiums under crackdown

Play was stopped for 18 minutes at Dens Park.
-Credit: (Image: SNS)

Fans face banning orders if they are caught using pyrotechnics in stadiums under a clampdown being considered by the Scottish Government and football authorities.

The use of flares and smoke bombs has rocketed in recent years despite repeated warnings against their use by clubs and police.

It is already illegal to carry fireworks or flares into football matches after legislation passed last year.

SNP ministers have now convened a working group with the SPFL, SFA and Police Scotland to consider whether the existing football banning orders (FBO) scheme should be extended to target fans caught with pyros.

FBOs can be imposed by a court for up to 10 years for violent offences at matches - which could include throwing a lit pyrotechnic as a weapon.

The working group will hear evidence on whether extending the scope of FBOs would be an effective way to further deter the carrying and misuse of pyros.

Siobhian Brown, the community safety minister, said: "Everyone should be able to enjoy the excitement and atmosphere of a football match without the fear of serious injury from pyrotechnics.

"We have considerably strengthened pyrotechnic laws, and those who carry fireworks and pyrotechnics in public and into football stadia can face fines and up to six months in prison. Despite this, pyrotechnic misuse at football matches remains an issue.

"We have been working closely with football’s governing authorities and with police on what more can be done to stop this antisocial and dangerous behaviour at football matches.

"Football Banning Orders of up to 10 years, are already an effective measure courts have at their disposal to deal with violent behaviour and I have asked this working group to consider whether extending their reach would be a further deterrent to pyrotechnic possession and misuse.

"Consisting of representatives from football and the justice sector, their review will also take views from clubs, fan groups, as well as front-line services."

The announcement of a clampdown comes as Celtic take on Rangers at a sold-out Hampden Park today in the Scottish Cup final.

It is the first time the Glasgow giants have met at this stage of the historic competition in 20 years

Kick-off at last season's Scottish Cup semi-final between the two teams at Hampden was delayed after fans set off flares inside the ground.

Aberdeen fans set off flares during a Viaplay Cup semi-final match between Hibernian and Aberdeen at Hampden Park
Aberdeen fans set off flares during a Viaplay Cup semi-final match between Hibernian and Aberdeen at Hampden Park -Credit:SNS Group

A Premiership match between Dundee and Rangers in November was also halted for 18 minutes when flares engulfed Dens Park in smoke.

The incident set off a fire alarm and forced the players off the pitch.

The Record then revealed in April how a young supporter was left scarred for life after he was struck in the face by a flare during a game.

Dundee supporter Levi Rennie, 10, was in the away end at McDiarmid Park for his team's clash with rivals St Johnstone when the terrifying incident took place.

His family were told that he could have lost his sight after the lit explosive struck his face - near his left eye - before scorching through his skin.

Levi has been a Dundee FC fan all his life.
Levi has been a Dundee FC fan all his life. -Credit:Supplied

The schoolboy was later invited to attend a first team training session with his Dundee heroes to support him through his terrifying ordeal.

Footballing authorities and police hope the threat of banning orders will make supporters think twice about bringing flares to football.

Calum Beattie, SPFL chief operating officer, said: "The dangers of pyrotechnics in crowded football stadia are significant and our clubs are keen to work with the Scottish Government, police and the courts to find meaningful ways of tackling this growing problem.

"Recent surveys have also shown that most fans believe there is no place for these devices at games.

"We are looking forward to playing an active role in this group to examine further how football banning orders can form part of a package of deterrence for any fans tempted to smuggle these dangerous items into grounds."

Superintendent Chris Stewart of Police Scotland said: "The public have the right to feel safe when they attend football matches and we work with a range of partners, including the clubs, to make sure these events are safe and secure.

"We will engage with the review and support partners involved."

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