CONTENTIOUS plans which would have led to limitations on where football fans travelling by bus could drink or stop look set to be scrapped.

A document which outlines guidelines for “taking passengers to sporting events in Scotland” was put forward for consultation on August 30 by senior traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt.

It states: “The majority of football fans are law abiding and do not intend to cause disturbances whilst travelling to or from games, but a small minority can be disruptive and impact the enjoyment of others.”

The document set out a number of travel recommendations on game days, including that: 

  • Bus companies must inform a dedicated football officer 48 hours before the game of the number of supporters expected to travel, the number of vehicles booked, the name and the contact number for the person who made the booking
  • Buses cannot stop at premises where alcohol is sold unless it is done so with a “substantial meal”. It adds that “prior agreement for meal stops where alcohol is available should be sought from the operator’s relevant dedicated football officer”
  • Buses must arrive at the venue no earlier than two hours before and not later than one hour before the scheduled start of the game, unless otherwise directed by police.
  • Passengers are not to “be set down” or picked up “at any unauthorised locations without prior permission of the police”

The reaction from Scottish football fans was overwhelmingly negative. One user said Twitter/X: “The draconian proposals put civil liberties at risk. They must be opposed.

“Not only does this propose stricter monitoring of the average football fan, it would have a significant detrimental impact on small businesses and football clubs.

“Pubs in the vicinity of various football stadiums in Scotland rely on the trade of travelling fans to stay afloat.”

The Scottish Football Association, Scottish Professional Football League and Scottish Women’s Premier League all issued a joint statement on Wednesday criticising the “heavy-handed” proposals.

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First Minister Humza Yousaf, meanwhile, described the guidance as "ludicrous", insisting it would likely be ignored.

Now, Turfitt has appeared to backtrack on the plans.

In statement, he said: “As the Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain, I think it is important to stress that the traffic commissioners are safety regulators and that we are independent of Government.

“Any guidance that is issued is intended to assist bus and coach operators. However, before I can issue any guidance, I am required to consult, including with the UK and Scottish Governments. But we also consider the views of a wide range of other stakeholders.

“I have listened to the strength of feeling expressed and it is clear to me that there is further work required to understand the full impact of the introduction of any proposed guidance in Scotland.

“As a result, I have asked my officials to cease this consultation exercise.”

The SNP welcomes the news, with the party’s Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn saying: "This is a victory for every Scottish football fan who stood up and made their voice heard loud and clear.

"The whole episode reeked of complete snobbery and the very fact that the Tories tried to do this speaks volumes of the contempt in which they hold our national game.

"Scottish football is something to be celebrated, our fans should be heralded and perhaps it is time for consideration about how football fans are treated more broadly - we can't even watch our international games for free while English and Welsh fans can.

"Millions of Scots attend games every year and pour money into the economy while doing it. Let's ensure this type of attack on our national game never happens again and let's treat supporters like we do everyone else - fairly."