SCOTTISH football fans have been left furious with new “draconian” transport proposals put forward by the UK Government.
A document which outlines guidelines for “taking passengers to sporting events in Scotland” was put forward for consultation on August 30 by senior traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt.
It states: “The majority of football fans are law abiding and do not intend to cause disturbances whilst travelling to or from games, but a small minority can be disruptive and impact the enjoyment of others.”
What’s in the guidelines?
Much of what is said focuses on public service vehicles (PSVs) and the document sets out a number of travel recommendations on game days.
It says that the guidelines have recently been updated in England and Wales which is why these new proposals for Scotland have now been published.
Bus companies must inform a dedicated football officer 48 hours before the game the number of supporters expected to travel, the number of vehicles booked, the name and the contact number for the person who made the booking.
Buses cannot stop at premises where alcohol is sold unless it is done so with a “substantial meal”. It adds that “prior agreement for meal stops where alcohol is available should be sought from the operator’s relevant dedicated football officer”.
Buses must arrive at the venue no earlier than two hours before and not later than one hour before the scheduled start of the game, unless otherwise directed by police.
Passengers are not to “be set down” or picked up “at any unauthorised locations without prior permission of the police”.
What’s the reaction been?
The reaction from football fans has been overwhelmingly negative. One user said on X, formerly known as Twitter: “The draconian proposals put civil liberties at risk. They must be opposed.
“Not only does this propose stricter monitoring of the average football fan, it would have a significant detrimental impact on small businesses and football clubs.
“Pubs in the vicinity of various football stadiums in Scotland rely on the trade of travelling fans to stay afloat.”
The same user, Derek Watson, said that a “collective effort from fans” would be required to speak out against the guidelines.
“The clubs these fans support can be a huge force for good & more folk attend matches in Scotland than anywhere else in Europe.
“Celebrate them, don’t punish them.”
Another user added: “Football is a force for good. It’s time it fought back.”
“Absolute nonsense” said another while someone else described the proposals as “shocking” and said the UK Government “wants to make it as difficult as possible for away fans to travel to games”.
The Scottish Greens meanwhile have said the proposed restrictions are "out of touch".
"The extra work and hurdles created could make it prohibitive for sports fans to travel to Scotland", MSP Gillian Mackay said.
"The knock-on effect for small businesses would also be significant. Pubs and restaurants near football stadiums and other sporting venues rely heavily on passing trade on match-days.
"In a cost of living crisis we should be creating opportunities for traders, not putting them under further pressure.
"We need to be working with sports clubs and supporter groups to ensure great days out for fans. These proposals need to be given the red card."
When does the consultation close?
A consultation on the rules is open until November 24 2023 and there are various ways to respond including by email or by post.
Read more about how to get in touch and to look at the full document HERE.