violent and abusive behaviour by a minority of football fans is nothing new.
The appalling actions of a small number of fans spoiled Saturday’s game at Tynecastle not only for some unfortunate away supporters but for many in the home crowd too. Incidents like this have become depressingly familiar over the years at football grounds across Scotland.
There is sadly little new either in the particular trouble being experienced at Hearts. Regulars at Tynecastle will tell you that the disgraceful behaviour of the self-styled Young Team has been a growing problem for several weeks at least.
The fact that these problems are so familiar does not make them any less unacceptable. The risk in situations like this, when problems appear to be deep-rooted and endemic, is that they become tolerated. Everyone, from club and police chiefs to ordinary, decent fans, can give in to the idea that these issues are inevitable and cannot be effectively tackled.
What is new is the approach being adopted at both the Capital’s clubs under new chief executives Ann Budge and Leeann Dempster. There is not only a determination to tackle these troublemakers head-on – and ban them when necessary – but the issues are being addressed in an open and forthright way.
Ms Budge’s willingness to talk so frankly about the hooligans that have attached themselves to the club is a breath of fresh air. It is not the first time that she has spoken out along these lines but her response to the weekend’s trouble is evidence that she is in this job of cleaning up Tynecastle for the long haul.
Her words will not only act as a warning, but also as a rallying point. They will help galvanise the response of the police, but also the vast majority of supporters, who will have the confidence that they can raise problems and they will be dealt with.