WATCHING the Old Firm match on Saturday I was struck by how inept Celtic were. It was by some distance the worst 45 minutes of their domestic season so far and Rangers thoroughly deserved their victory, which should have been by three or four goals.

Rangers were the better team by some way, assisted by some very strange tactical decisions by Celtic’s manager Brendan Rodgers, exacerbated by the haplessness of several of his players.

In the first half especially, they could barely string a few passes together and with the in-your-face Rangers midfield proving aggressive and creative, the end result was a deserved win by Rangers.

It was only at half-time that I learned that there had been a very nasty incident when the Celtic team bus arrived at Ibrox. I am surprised that more has not been made of the smoke bomb attack on the visiting team’s bus which, somewhat ironically, is ultimately owned by Douglas Park, Rangers’ deputy chairman.

This was no mere excess of exuberance by fans. This was a deliberate attempt to scare and intimidate the Celtic squad – and in my opinion it worked. I am not saying the Celtic team who started the game were fearties, but they would be less than human if they had not suffered a sudden shock when the bombs went off. That is, after all, what these pyrotechnics are about – exploding with a lot of noise and smoke, and that can indeed be frightening.

Attacks of any kind on the team bus visiting a stadium is all about intimidation and that’s why Saturday saw a new low in the Scottish game. It did not help that the decision by Rangers to cut Celtic’s ticket allocation to just 750 had created an unpleasant and frankly threatening atmosphere but that was their perfect right. Celtic will play quid pro quo, and that’s a real shame because a sizeable away crowd always adds to the atmosphere.

At this point in time, Rangers cannot be blamed for the actions of an idiotic fan or fans. Instead, since the incident happened on the public highway outside the stadium, it is a matter for Police Scotland.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell should this morning be dashing off missives galore to Police Scotland demanding an inquiry into why his players and coaches were allowed to be the victims of an attack which, though nobody was physically hurt, was both frightening and unpleasant. Someone could have been hurt, it should be said, because these pyrotechnics can be dangerous.

Here’s what it says on a certain club’s website: “One of the most dangerous things we have to deal with is pyrotechnic articles such as smoke bombs and flares in the stadium and we’d ask that you assist us to look after you by not bringing such articles with you to matches.

“These articles can cause severe burns, damage to hearing or breathing difficulties and their use is especially distressing for groups such as small children and those who can’t easily move away when pyrotechnics are activated.

“Experience shows that when a pyrotechnic is activated in a crowd there is often a movement away from the immediate area which can cause panic and disorientation and which creates a risk of slips and trips or crushing for those nearby.

“Please be in no doubt that these articles are unpleasant and potentially life-threatening to be around – they are also illegal at football matches – and being caught with them will result in exclusion from Rangers Football Club as well as a possible criminal conviction.”

That is the case for all clubs. But I don’t buy the theory that the police alone have to take responsibility for fans’ behaviour outside grounds.

FIFA makes it clear that clubs are responsible for their fans everywhere. Their disciplinary code says this is “regardless of the question of culpable conduct or culpable oversight”. It adds that “improper conduct includes violence towards persons or objects, letting off incendiary devices, throwing missiles, displaying insulting or political slogans in any form, uttering insulting words or sounds, or invading the pitch.”

Yet the SPFL and SFA blithely ignore this FIFA rule, and Hell will host snowball fights before those timorous bodies act to deduct points for spectator misconduct. That is why we must look again at the question of strict liability in the game in Scotland.

With comprehensive strict liability rules drawn up by a top lawyer such as Rod Mackenzie of Harper Macleod, the SFA and SPFL would have no choice but to take points off clubs to stop the fireworks flying. And with such a tight Premiership as we now have, there will never be a better time to try strict liability.