Changes are being proposed due to concerns that, while the majority of football fans are well behaved, there is a concern that “incidents of football related violence and disorder do still occur and may be increasing.”
In England and Wales the guidelines are said to have worked well and regulatory action against an operator who has contravened the guidelines has only been necessary on a handful of occasions.
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The consultation, which is open until November 24, is asking whether the changes would be “proportionate and appropriate” for games in Scotland and whether there are any particular issues in Scotland that would require the rules to be amended.
Scottish football’s leading bodies have expressed concern over proposed new rules saying there is no evidence that this is a significant problem in Scottish football.
Changes would include rules prevented buses from stopping at any unauthorised locations to pick up supporters unless the police are informed first.
Buses would need to arrive at a stadium no sooner than two hours before the scheduled start time of the game and no later than one hour.
The Senior Traffic Commissioner consultation also asks for views on the introduction of Dedicated Football Officers.
Bus companies would have to inform the DFO no later than 48 hours before departure of the number of fans expected to travel, the number of vehicles booked, as well as the name and the contact number for the person who made the booking.
Bus operators would also require prior permission from the police before stopping within 10 miles of a stadium, and that any stop at a licenced premises would not only have to first be cleared with authorities, but would require any alcohol served to be accompanied by a ‘substantial meal’.
Traffic Commissioners in the UK work for the UK government as a tribunal service responsible for the licensing and regulation of anyone who operates heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches, and the registration of local bus services.
Richard Turfitt is Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain while there are Traffic Commissioners for each region or country.
Claire Gilmore, a qualified engineer and solicitor, was appointed as Traffic Commissioner for Scotland in February 2019.
An introductory statement from Mr Turfitt reads: “Having recently consulted on updating the guidelines for England and Wales, I believe that it would be appropriate to consult on the introduction of the voluntary guidelines for designated football matches held within Scotland.
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“In order to help us understand whether the guidelines should be adopted in Scotland, we would like to hear from industry and its representatives and other stakeholders who have an interest in the carriage of football fans by PSVs.”
But Gillian McKay MSP of the Scottish Greens said on social media: “Supporters and football clubs should be celebrated for the excellent work they do to enhance their communities.
“These proposed measures are unwarranted, unworkable and out of touch.
“They should be scrapped immediately.”
Derek Watson, director of the Well Society, told The Herald: “I want to say that I was shocked, but I wasn’t. As a football fan this is something that you have just become subjected to and used to over the years in Scotland while following your team.
“I was disappointed, angry I suppose. It is nothing new and I suppose collectively it is something all football fans are going to have to deal with.
“I don’t think any individual is going to change this. It is going to take fans coming together, club officials and CEOs and hopefully the governing body speaking out to make sure this doesn’t get pushed through.
“For far too long the SPFL and SFA have ignored Scottish football fans. This is a real opportunity for them to try and get them back on side.
“I wouldn’t be surprised though if it is radio silence.”
He added: “I genuinely struggle to see another section of society where they are constantly demonised and constantly belittled.”
Scottish football’s leading bodies have expressed concern over proposed new rules.
A joint statement issued on behalf of the Scottish FA, Scottish Professional Football League, and Scottish Women’s Premier League said: “There’s no evidence that this is a significant problem in Scottish football. We are concerned by the targeted nature of these proposals which serve to demonise football fans and interfere unnecessarily in people’s lives.
“In Scotland, there are already appropriate powers held by PHV operators, Police Scotland and other partners to deal effectively with a very small number of incidents by a minority of fans.
“The consultation itself notes that the majority of football fans are law-abiding and do not cause any disturbances when travelling to or from games, yet these proposals would unfairly affect the vast majority of football fans who travel safely and respectfully to and from matches on a weekly basis.
“We don’t support these unnecessary and heavy-handed proposals and we will be making our views clear in the consultation.”
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