Date: 10th November 2023
I do not have asthma and I do not have a very firm view on pyrotechnics.
I know people who do.
Those who sue flares say that they add atmosphere though they do take longer to clear than it takes to come to a dodgy VAR decision, so they do seem to be creeping into the game and making a play for being the most annoying thing about watching Scottish fitba in 2023.
The battle intensified when fans let off flares at the game between Dundee and Rangers at Dens Park in midweek. My first impression was, that looks impressive, which probably is unhelpful for the SFA in trying to stamp this practice out which is very Father Ted.
Whilst being “down with this sort of thing,” they are well known for being party poopers. It makes their stance one which I am unlikely to “get onboard with.” Why? Because they are the ones peddling it.
But that’s prejudice. After all, we need a governing body and without one where would be? Perhaps in the mess which boxing is professionally and at the Olympics because they struggle to find one. We at least have that sorted.
But we don’t.
Even this Westminster Government, no matter the criticism they may face over being dysfunctional, have noticed that governing bodies in football are simply unfit to do the governing bit and are looking at forcing them to change.
So, as they and the SPFL point out, pyrotechnics is illegal, they are looking down the barrel of change being forced on them to become more … accountable and effective.
And so, the message of just don’t do it, cos it’s not right, is a tad preachy.
For the semi finals of the League Cup, they have put measures in place. Perhaps they should measure the cost of a consultation exercise to find out why it is that fans feel that 18 minutes of disruption of a game is preferable to watching the game?
Mebbes it would be a decent thing to do, to go and have a wee chat with folk and find out all the reasons behind a fan led initiative to try and get things a bit more continental?
Mebbes it would make sense to quantify the issue before qualifying the condemnation of it?
There is, on the horizon, legislation which would criminalise the issue. Having a flare at a football match shall soon become illegal and these hijinks, which is what it generally is, will see people targeted to have a criminal record. Why?
Because the use of flares is dangerous.
Now, in the SFA statement they something really interesting. They say: “We ask for your help in ensuring the weekend action is memorable for the excitement and entertainment generated on the field and not for any unwanted behaviour off it.”
Excitement and entertainment caught my eye.
I began by saying I am ambivalent about flares at football matches – because I am. I have no strong feeling one way or another and I know people who have suffered after the use of flares because of breathing difficulties and THAT is not to be encouraged as a consequence of what I previously described as hijinks.
However, this seems like yet another sledgehammer to crack the nut of fans who have made their feelings known – they want a bit of excitement, some of that entertainment that the SFA and the SPFL want to provide. In recent years from having Michael Buffer announce a game to innovations like having teams from Ireland and Wales in our competitions there has been an attempt to do a bit of that.
But here we have them pesky kids in the terraces trying to do something without sanction. Never quite saw Neil Doncaster as a Scooby Doo villain until now but once again the janitor in charge with a bucket of sawdust is up at the headie’s door and making a mess of complaining about them pesky kids. And once again flexing their collective muscles, the people “in charge” seem to be missing the point. If ever there was another indication of the need to change here it is. And if the SFA want to get rid of their blazers, then I am sure there are a few in the terraces at Dens Park in that midweek game which could give them some ideas as to how to do that.
It seems I might be changing my mind about flares… wonder how that happened…
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