Labour MSP Vows To Seek Repeal Of Football Act

4 January 2016, 12:20 | Updated: 4 January 2016, 12:28

A Labour MSP will ask Holyrood to repeal a law that criminalised offensive behaviour at football if he is re-elected in May.

James Kelly, whose Glasgow Rutherglen constituency lies close to Celtic Park, said the Offensive Behaviour and Threatening Communications at Football Act 2012 is ``eroding trust between football fans and the police''.

The Act criminalised offensive and threatening behaviour, including sectarian behaviour, related to football matches and any communications containing threats or incitement to religious hatred.

It was opposed by every opposition party in Holyrood and described as ''mince'' by a Dundee sheriff.

Mr Kelly has pledged to bring forward a Member's Bill to repeal the Act if he is returned to Holyrood in May.

He is fighting for his political future after the coterminous Westminster seat fell to the SNP at last year's general election, and polls are predicting another SNP landslide at the forthcoming Holyrood poll.

He is also one of 14 people vying for a prime place on the seven-member Glasgow list which includes party heavyweights such as former leader Johann Lamont and former deputy leader Anas Sarwar.

He said: ''In May, I will bring forward a Member's Bill to repeal the Football Act.

''The place to tackle intolerance is in our classrooms and community groups and this Football Act is a barrier to that.

''The SNP Government in Edinburgh don't understand that the problem of sectarianism in Scotland goes far beyond 90 minutes on a Saturday.

''The Football Act shows a Government more interested in public relations than the public interest.

''The Football Act is eroding trust between football fans and the police and that is solely because of the SNP.

''No other party in Parliament supported it, and Scottish civic society, football fans, academics and lawyers all opposed it at the time it was bulldozed through by an SNP majority that simply wouldn't listen.

''The next generation should be the one that ends sectarianism for good, but that starts with getting our priorities straight, and repealing the Football Act.''