News that the incredibly poor police response to Saturday's Cup Final events was, in their own opinion, down to Rangers fans indulging in a mob mentality and Ulster-style tactics, just about puts the lid on things.
Never mind Rod Petrie's feeble excuses and subsequent, don't-mention-Hibs-fans-by-name statements (I was pleased to hear the club, this afternoon, slate Bears who were on the pitch fighting), an even bigger rod has just crashed onto the scene. One the police have made for their own backs, but once which will affect everyone who goes to a game in the near future.
By lurching into South Yorkshire territory, and blaming everyone but themselves, the end result will be twofold: a massive increase in hitherto absent tension between police and Rangers fans, with all the potential for trouble and financial costs that suggests; and, far more likely, a counter reaction from police in which, at the least provocation from fans of any club, they go in extra hard to re-establish their reputation.
Neither scenario ought to give anyone any comfort. Over reaction is as unwelcome as Saturday's under reaction, but the evidence since Saturday doesn't suggest a coherent strategy in either direction. How can anyone have confidence in their safety as a game now?
It's like when Tony Blair went into Iraq on the back of a dodgy dossier - granted, the immediate result was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and a complete disintegration of their society, but the result from a UK perspective has been massively increased hostility from the Middle East toward us and a paralysis of UK policy in the region, even when limited military intervention could, just about, be justified: Syria, Libya, Tunisia. Britain made a rod for its own back by bad decisions, and the same applies here.
The police have made a rod for their own back not only by incompetence on Saturday, but by their response afterward: initially their response was that they did everything perfectly, now they claim they couldn't get there in time. Super fit fans somehow made it from their seats, out the ground and up Cathcart Rd in time to stop a police response which they claim would otherwise have been '30 seconds'. No-one, as yet, has seen any social media footage from the flats along the road. To the reasonable reader, there are as many holes in the police story as the Rangers defence. The damage to police credibility is immense - and they are responsible for your security at games.
As a paying fan of over 30 years I now have to seriously think about going to a game, as neither fan nor player security is even close to guaranteed. For some, the thought of Rangers fans giving up going to matches must be Heaven, but to anyone sane being unconvinced of your safety at a match spells the end of any future for football in Scotland.
If Hibs, the police, the media and the political class wanted to create a perfect storm for the future they've managed it. I'm not sure how things can get much worse from here but rest assured, someone, somewhere will be working on it.
Enjoy your summer.
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