‘Old Firm would be at bottom of table’

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there are many reasons why the Evening News is proud to have Margo MacDonald as a columnist.

There’s her independence, the fact she speaks her mind and, most of all, her ceaseless work on behalf of the people of Edinburgh.

But we also hold Margo in high regard for her willingness to think outside of the box in pursuit of what she thinks is right, whether or not it is popular.

Margo’s call to punish clubs for their fans’ sectarianism will split opinion. Many Rangers and Celtic fans, and some closer to home, will not be happy at the prospect of their teams being punished for the actions of a minority.

Yet that’s the very reason why Margo’s plan will appeal to others. Clubs and the authorities have tried for years to cajole fans into rejecting the chants and abuse rooted in the past.

The vitriol has, in fact, diminished, but it still features too often in games involving the Old Firm, including recent games in Edinburgh.

Many will agree with Margo that the only solution is to hit the culprits by punishing the teams they support. It’s probably no exaggeration to say that if points were deducted for every sectarian chant, both Rangers and Celtic would quickly find themselves at the bottom, rather than the top, of the SPL table.

Attractive though that prospect may be to Hearts and Hibs fans, while Margo’s plan is laudable we fear it is impractical and would be impossible to enforce.

How would offences be reported? Would there be a sliding scale of penalties? If so, who would decide which chants were most punishable? Who would then impose the points deductions? And how long would it take the fans to decide that those taking such decisions must be closet fans of Rangers/Celtic/others?

So, sorry, Margo – as ever we applaud your innovative thinking, but for once we can’t back your idea.

What we need instead is the government to lead a proper debate about how we deal with this scourge. That it’s caused by a tiny minority must give hope that the rest of us can find the solution.