Numerous media outlets are today highlighting the plans by the combined opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. This is, of course, no real surprise given that all parties except the SNP have been opposed to this legislation from its very inception.
Moreover, all parties, except the SNP highlighted their opposition to the Act during their election campaign and most included it in their election manifesto. Now that the majority of MSPs are opposed to this Act we look forward to the early introduction of the Private Member’ Bill from James Kelly MSP calling for the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour Act and for cross party support for it at all stages.
In the meantime, the Act is still on the statute books and all fans and democrats need to keep up the pressure to make sure the Act is consigned to the bin and fans can safely go about their normal and lawful business once more; the corrosive relationship between police and fans which this Act has engendered can begin to be repaired; and, perhaps more importantly, the blurring of lines between the executive, the judiciary and the police which the Act also engendered and which is so dangerous and anti-democratic can be re-examined and corrected.
This has been a long hard struggle and we are not quite there yet, but we very much hope that 2015-16 is the last season where football fans have to risk their liberty, their clean record and their employment prospects just to go to support their team.