Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Q&A with Motherwell's Heavy Hands Empty Stands Campaign

FAC recently caught up with a spokesperson from Motherwell fans' campaign Heavy Hands Empty Stands and asked them some questions about their campaign. We may not fully agree with what they say, but it's food for thought for politicians pushing the anti-Football Bill.

What are your views on the legislation?
The Heavy Hands Empty Stands campaign believe that the Scottish Government’s proposed legislation to tackle "sectarianism" will not make any difference.  There is already sufficient legislation which if properly enforced already covers all aspects of improper conduct by football fans both at and near stadiums.
Legislation, like this one, which is hastily derived for what is perceived as a current major problem is invariably rushed, ill-founded and not properly thought out and does not achieve the desired result.  Indeed such legislation inevitably fails and will criminalise many people whilst not actually addressing the supposed fundamental underlying issues.
Can you tell us a bit moreabout Heavy Hands, Empty Stands? 
The name Heavy Hands Empty Stands was taken from a banner displayed by Motherwell fans earlier in the season at Tannadice when a group of around 50 travelling supporters were knocked back from the stadium without any real reason. The Motherwell supporters involved in this campaign believe that treatment like such will kill Scottish football and this bill could be one of the final nails in the coffin. 
The government and media are portraying the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill as being ‘anti-sectarian’.We feel it has little to do with sectarianism and is actually anti-football. What are your thoughts?
As Motherwell fans we have witnessed and endured the sectarianism of the Old Firm for decades with very little done to address it. We should not however be tarred with the same brush and these laws if implemented will simply cause for football fans immeasurable problems due to the vagueness and draconian nature of the bill. 

As fans of a non-Glasgow club, how do you think you could be affected by the new law?
These proposals will affect all football fans and should be resisted by us all. As a club with a small fan base it easier for us to be targeted. Police officers often dont want to wade into a crowd of 3000 travelling supporters to arrest someone for something they may find "offensive" but when you find yourself with only 300 supporters they may see it as an easy opportunity. 
There was a recent incident at Pittodrie involving the police and Motherwell fans – can you tell us what happened? 
The whole incident was to do with heavy handed stewarding in relation to a group of Motherwell supporters who were standing up but that opens another debate. If your looking for any quotes on the incident there was a very accurate blog which can be found here:  One quote from the article states "Motherwell’s singing section had been standing, singing and generating an atmosphere. Soon after the Aberdeen goal, the stewards moved in towards the group and began to remove members of the group. This proved to be a flash point and the following half an hour saw more fans removed and a collection of ugly scenes between the Stewards and Motherwell fans. Fans were dragged up the stairs towards the top of the stands and one younger member was pulled by the chest and neck to the front of the stand and pulled out"

The Scottish Parliament votes on the Bill next week, what would you say to any MSPs reading in?
I think the majority of MSPs have voiced their opinion against the bill but to all those SNP members out there, we would urge you to rethink your decision. In a time where they have a majority government this could be a serious issue of losing votes in the next election. The laws are already in place, there is no need for this to pass. 

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