By Martin Couper
A FOOTBALL thug has been barred from all football grounds in the UK after being hit with a banning order.
Paul Angus, 20, will be unable to attend any of Hibernian’s matches for the next three years and must surrender his passport whenever the club travel abroad.
Angus is the first trouble maker that Lothian and Borders Police have successfully managed to slap with a Football Banning Order (FBO) without a football-related conviction.
Instead, officers built up a body of evidence dating back to 2005 in order to prove his involvement in disruptive behaviour at matches.
A spokesman for the police said: “An order can be imposed following a conviction for a football-related offence, while an order on summary application can be made based on evidence that the individual concerned has been involved in disorder.”
He added: “We are delighted to have secured an FBO against Mr Angus, having closely monitored his activities over the past few years.”
The banning orders were introduced in Scotland in September 2006 but had been in place in England and Wales since 2000 following the hooliganism that plagued the European Championships in Holland and Belgium.
After the Manchester riots at this year’s UEFA Cup Final – which saw clashes between police and Rangers fans – large number of louts were served with banning orders.
The Scottish Government have thrown their support behind the banning orders, believing tough action must be taken to stop hooligans ruining the game.
Justice Minister Kenny McAskill said: “We need to send a strong message to the thugs and hooligans that it won’t be tolerated. Their behaviour is unacceptable in our towns and cities and not wanted in our stadia. They will be punished by the courts and banned from the grounds.”
Police officials are now hoping the expulsion of fans from grounds without a conviction will become a regular occurrence as they look to stamp out violence and anti-social behaviour at matches.
The police spokesman said: “This legislation is an important tool in the fight against football-related disorder, and the action we have taken sends a clear message to those involved in such activity that their behaviour will not be tolerated.
“Rest assured that we will continue to monitor the behaviour of any individuals involved in football disorder, and take the appropriate action when required.”
Hibernian Football Club were also delighted to hear that Angus had been served with a banning order, claiming the majority of their fans come to games to support the team.
A spokeswoman for the club said: “The individual concerned is one of a small minority who continue their attempts to tarnish the otherwise good record of Hibernian supporters.
“The club is fully supportive of the application made by Lothian and Borders Police and welcomes the outcome.”
Lothian and Borders Police are now pursuing civil banning orders for other individuals involved in football-related disorder in the capital.