According to the Panelbase survey, which was commissioned by pro-independence group Wings Over Scotland, 60 per cent of the more than 1,000 Scots surveyed support a law passed by the Scottish Parliament back in 2012.
The law, dubbed the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, introduced tougher legal measures to ban threatening and offensive behaviour during football matches. Most of the Scots who were questioned supported bans on poor behaviour, including threats that kindle sectarian and religious hatred.
The act introduced two new tiers of criminal offence. One criminalised a wide range of behaviour that could be interpreted as threatening or offensive. This includes sectarian behaviour at (or even in connection with) football matches. The other prohibits making threats of violence, threats that incite religious hatred as well as inciting serious threats of violence.
The research focused on Glasgow, and responders were grouped into four categories: Rangers, Celtic, other clubs and people are not interested in football.
Amongst those surveyed, support was lowest amongst Old Firm fans. However, even in this case, the majority were still in favour of tougher legal measures. Amongst those who identified themselves as Rangers fans, around 59 per cent supported the law, while support from Celtic fans weighed in at 64 per cent.
The highest level of support – at 76 per cent – was found amongst those who supported other football teams.
The survey suggests that the Scottish Labour party’s attempt to win support from football fans by promising to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act may have been a miscalculation. The highest level of support for repealing the act came from Celtic and Rangers supporters, at 25 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the football group known as Fans Against Criminalisation reports that more than 4,500 people have signed its petition calling for the repeal of the act.