The Scottish FA released the independent report commissioned in the wake of the violence which marred the end of May's Scottish Cup final. The report, written by Sheriff Principal Edward Bowden, made several recommendations to the national association's board including a retractable tunnel.
Yes. A retractable tunnel.
The final, which has resulted in over 50 arrests, was deemed by Police Scotland to be a top category fixture and as such had similar policing numbers to the previous month's Old Firm semi-final which passed without incident. Several thousand Hibs fans poured onto the pitch after winning their first Scottish Cup since not long Queen Victoria's death at the turn of start of the last century. The report finds that had Hibs fans only got as far as halfway (of the half Rangers were defending in the second period) there would have been no violence despite Rangers' goalkeeper Wes Foderingham being assaulted before any real number of Hibs fans had crossed halfway.
Despite the misgivings of many Rangers fans the blame for the invasion, and the violence that followed, is placed firmly at the door if Hibs fans while clearing both clubs, the SFA (imagine that) the SFA subsidiary which operates Hampden (even bigger shocker there) police and the stewards of any blame for what took place. Surprisingly, however, they avoided placing the blame on alcohol.
The report is contradictory in a number of areas; most entertainingly so when it discusses the "moat" which surrounds the pitch at Hampden. It starts off by forgetting Hampden even has a moat:
7.1.4 It is not possible, other than by the construction of physical barriers such as moats or fencing, to prevent an influx of several thousand people onto a football pitch.
Then it suggests they are fairly useless in stopping pitch invasions from happening:
8.4.3 Whilst the form of the "moat" did not contribute to the invasion, it is fairly clear from the ease with which a number of individuals traversed the wires within it, that these may not provide much by way of a physical deterrent.
Then he got to the retractable tunnel. It appears that all of us who watched at home, in the stadium, at the pub or wherever else were all missing a really obvious solution to the problem of thousands of fans spilling onto the pitch, physically assaulting players of the opposing team, stealing equipment from photographers pitch-side and heading to the other set of fans to taunt them. All it needed was a tunnel that some wee guy could pull out as the players leave the field and everything would've been fine.
That was my first reaction at the time too.
There's more in the report which you can read here but it's largely the same nonsense highlighted above. Rangers released a statement on it shortly afterwards saying that the club is seeking an urgent meeting with SFA boss Stewart Regan and Sheriff Principal Bowden over factual inaccuracies and contradictions in the report and hope they remember "what actually happened" when it comes to issuing sanctions.
There will be much more fallout from the cup final but this report is a complete damp squip. The usual "nothing more anyone could do, it was just a minority" line.
Maybe next time a hundreds or thousands of fans sprint across the pitch at the Rangers fans someone in power in Scottish football might do something.