A voluntary code of conduct will be established for players, officials and supporters of every team in Scottish football by the end of the new season to assist in rooting out sectarianism and disorder from the game.
With the new Scottish season starting in just under two weeks the joint action group (JAG), whose members include the Scottish Government, Strathclyde Police and both Rangers and Celtic, announced the “wide-ranging recommendations” would help improve the game in Scotland.
Clubs will adopt a single code allowing “appropriate sanctions” to be taken against fans who commit “football-related offences”, while a different set of guidelines is being applied to the behaviour of players, coaches and staff.
The JAG said it will establish a dedicated Scottish National Football Policing Unit which will attend matches throughout Scotland to assist other forces, gather intelligence on offenders and help with post-match investigations.
A superintendent from Strathclyde Police will take charge of the new policing unit which will receive £1.8 million in government funding. Senior police officers will also have new powers to ask courts to suspend the opening hours of licensed premises at match times in areas where trouble is expected.
The Scottish Government said the content of the codes will be in place before next May but it is still to be announced whether the “football-related offences” will include sectarian songs and chants.
First Minister Alex Salmond praised the “powerful proposals” drawn up by the JAG but said it was only the “beginning of the process” in dealing with sectarian behaviour.