No Pyro, No Party? Flares at Scottish Football Grounds

Banned “atmosphere enhancers” are still causing issues in Scottish football

The Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Act 2022, which came into force in June 2022, prohibits the possession of pyrotechnic articles in public places and at designated venues and events. However, they’re still seen regularly in the supporters sections of games. So much so that a recent survey by the Scottish Football Supporters Association (SFSA) has revealed that two-thirds of fans want to see pyrotechnics banned from games. The Scottish Football Association (SFA) is warning if the law around pyrotechnics is not enforced properly, it won’t be long until someone is killed.

There have been several incidents at football games involving flares recently, which collectively have been deemed a “cause for concern” by the SFSA. Although none resulted in the loss of life the events include –

  • A disabled MK Dons fan suffered several seizures after one of their fans set off smoke bombs at a game against Oxford United.
  • A Celtic fan had his hair set on fire by a pyro, thrown seemingly by one of his club’s fans.
  • A 10-year-old Dundee fan was scarred for life, and came within inches of losing an eye, when a pyro was thrown, by other Dundee fans.

Earlier this month Sheriff Niven-Smith, of Dundee Sheriff Court, slammed “young and naive” football fans who take pyrotechnics to games. Sheriff Niven-Smith ordered a 17-year-old Aberdeen fan who was caught travelling to an away game with multiple pyrotechnics to “stay out of trouble for 6 months”. The youngster was slapped with a football ban and his sentencing, and a decision on whether or not he can return to the games will be made in November.

South of the border, there is an imposed 12-month ban on pyro-offenders returning to football games. When asked for comments on possible punishments for those caught breaking the rules during the SFSA survey someone suggested, “A free dance in strippers for being a legend.”

Susanne McGraw, Head of Personal Injury at Watermans said –

“For some, flares and fireworks can seem harmless and add to the atmosphere of an occasion but the injuries that can be sustained in a split second can be life changing. The legislation is there to try and protect the public because of the dangerous nature of these products. Football grounds, shops and suppliers need to do more to police this but people also have to take responsibility and think about the potential unintended consequences lighting a flare may have, especially in such a confined space.”

“It might be that the sentences need to be harsher to make people think about what they are doing and prevent more injuries to innocent bystanders. Whilst we can obtain compensation for someone we cannot wind back the clock and wipe the injury away.”

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