Regulars at Forthbank Stadium, and indeed supporters travelling to our away games, will be aware that we have recently attracted a growing number of new, young fans.
While the overwhelming majority have brought about the advent of an improved atmosphere, unfortunately, particularly at away games, a very small minority of this group have attracted the attention of Safety Officers, Stewards and Police Scotland, for the wrong reasons.
I have worked closely, over the course of the last couple of months, with Police Scotland, our own Stadium Safety Officer and our Stewarding Company to try to ensure that Forthbank Stadium is a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. I have also built up a relationship with representatives of the group both by e-mail and through meeting with them at the Stadium prior to home matches. I can state, with complete confidence, that the boys I have liaised with are well-behaved, law-abiding citizens, whose sole intention is to support Stirling Albion and to demonstrate this support both vocally and loudly.
Unfortunately, within the group, it has become clear that there are a very small number intent on pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable and indeed overstepping the mark into the unacceptable.
On Saturday past, at our game versus Elgin City, one young fan was caught smoking and, having failed to heed an instruction to stop, he was ejected from the ground and advised he would not be permitted to return for the remainder of this season or next.
While smoking within the Stadium is a serious breach of our Ground Regulations, of even greater concern was the post-match report of verbal abuse of a family group of Elgin City supporters. In addition to this being brought to my attention by the father of the family concerned, the matter was also reported to me, in person, by two Stirling Albion supporters who were sitting within earshot of where the incident took place.
Over the course of the weekend and the early part of this week, I have conducted a full investigation in conjunction with the Stadium Safety Officer and we are fully satisfied that, not only does the evidence from all parties match up, but also that we have clear identification from CCTV images of the individuals responsible for the verbal abuse.
As things stand, the individuals thus identified will be refused entry to the Stadium on a lifetime basis. Should any (or all) of the individuals concerned wish to identify themselves to me by contacting the Club by e-mail or telephone in the first instance, I will be happy to discuss the matter with them in person. They can do so, safe in the knowledge that the Elgin fan, whose family were subjected to the abuse, does not wish the matter to be taken any further.
I wish to make it clear that Stirling Albion FC will take action against anyone found to have committed an act that breaches our Ground Regulations and that Police Scotland will be informed of anyone that we consider to have committed a criminal act.
Please be assured that I will continue to be vigilant and work tirelessly, supported by the appropriate personnel, to ensure that Forthbank Stadium remains what it always has been – an environment where football fans of all ages can feel safe and be safe.
Stirling Albion FC