SPFL urged to publish secret reports on sectarianism

21 July 2019, 06:49 | Updated: 21 July 2019, 06:51


New board members at the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) have been urged to publish data on sectarian abuse at matches, currently subject to a secrecy agreement.

The new SPFL board is set to be appointed at the annual general meeting on Monday and Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur has demanded it makes the data public.

A joint investigation by the party and anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth found last month that the SPFL has created a list of unacceptable behaviour, including sectarian incidents, at football grounds covering almost two years.

To be able to view the data, the Scottish Government signed a contract banning it from publishing the information.

Mr McArthur said: "The first item on the agenda for the new SPFL board should be to agree to publish in full the information it has secretly collected on instances of sectarian abuse at games over the last two years.

"If it does not, any claims by the board about its determination to kick sectarianism out of football will lack credibility.

"Sectarian behaviour at football matches continues to tarnish the sport's reputation and spoils the game for the vast majority of well-behaved fans. There's no place for it in 21st century Scotland.

"This data needs to be out in the open if we're genuinely to have a chance at opening up public debate and stamping out unacceptable behaviour.

"The new board has the opportunity to immediately right this wrong."

He criticised the Scottish Government for signing up to the deal.

The Scottish Government has urged the SPFL to make the data available, which SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster previously said would be discussed by the board.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Our strong preference has always been that the SPFL should make the data publicly available - and we have made that point consistently to them."