THE number of thugs banned from football matches in Scotland has almost trebled over the past three years.
Government figures show the number of Football Banning Orders (FBOs) soared from a total of 33 in 2010 to 92 last year.
Officials described the rise as a “significant increase” and said fans needed to be reminded offensive behaviour is “not welcome”.
Clubs have the power to ban supporters from their own grounds but have no power over travelling fans.
Chief constables can apply via the courts for nationwide FBOs to stop notorious thugs attending any “regulated” football match.
The extent of bans was revealed in the Scottish Parliament following a question from Alison McInnes, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for north east Scotland.
Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, replied: “There were 33, 86 and 92 football banning orders issued in the calendar years 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We welcome the significant increase in the number of football banning orders issued over the last two years.
“These bans protect real football fans and make very clear to those indulging in sectarian and other offensive behaviour that it is not welcome in Scottish football.
“We are also supporting the football authorities to address sectarianism through the Joint Action Group, which has agreed 41 actions with football authorities, clubs & police.
“And we have invested £1.8m over two years in a new national football policing unit, deployed at over 300 games.
“We have also committed £9m over three years to tackle the root causes of sectarianism by supporting wide ranging community projects across Scotland.”
In January this year Aberdeen fans were banned from all UK matches for 22 months.
John Rose, 47, Steven Rennie, 43, and David Whyman, 24, were also ordered to carry out 420 hours community service after battling with Rangers supporters outside Ibrox subway.
Also in January, 41-year-old Ivan Bridge, from West Kilbride in Ayrshire, was banned from football matches for two years.
He pled guilty to forming part of a disorderly crowd, engaging in and challenging others to fight in the same incident.
Aberdeen FC said the FBOs were an “effective” deterrent, adding: “The number of problem fans are not increasing.”
A Crown Office spokeswoman said: “The decision on whether to grant a Football Banning Order is made by the Sheriff or Judge hearing the case.
“The prosecutor will set out as strong a case as possible in order to try to persuade the decision-maker that an FBO is appropriate.”