Top football pundit and prominent Saints fan Stuart Cosgrove has weighed into the row over an “over-the-top” police response to a gathering of St Johnstone fans.
A viral video clip shows more than 20 officers surrounding a handful of young fans at Airbles Station, ahead of Saturday’s clash with Motherwell.
British Transport Police have been criticised for an apparently heavy-handed over-reaction.
The pressure group Fans Against Criminalisation said the incident was an example of a police approach encouraged by Scotland’s controversial Offensive Behaviour Act, which aims to crackdown on football-related trouble.
Now award-winning broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove has condemned the response at Saturday’s game.
Sharing our report, Cosgrove tweeted: “Policing and stewarding at Motherwell v St Johnstone FC was an expensive disgrace. Over-reaction in and out of ground.”
BBC Scotland sports reporter Tom English also commented on the Courier’s story. “How many police in those pictures?” he tweeted. “Looks ridiculous.”
In a statement, British Transport Police denied any out-of-proportion tactics. “The safety of the travelling public and rail staff remains an absolute priority,” a spokesman said. “We take a pro-active approach to football policing, with officers escorting trains before and after matches, and patrolling stations where large numbers of fans are expected.”
— Stuart Cosgrove (@Detroit67Book) May 10, 2016
— Tom English (@BBCTomEnglish) May 10, 2016
Jamie Beatson, editor of St Johnstone fan forum WeArePerth, stressed there was no history of trouble between St Johnstone and Motherwell fans.
“This wildly over-the-top response was coupled with bizarre scenes at the match itself, with 200 stewards lining the pitch to stop a pitch invasion that was never on the cards,” he said.
After the initial video clip went online, a second video clip purportedly of the same group of youngsters emerged.
The footage was shot in April on the day of a St Johnstone v Kilmarnock game and shows the young fans being confronted by police officers.