FURTHER proof that the Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles (Scotland) Act which MSPs at Holyrood passed last year is not worth the paper it is written on came at Dens Park on Wednesday evening when Rangers ultras decided to have an impromptu pre-Guy Fawkes Night display.

There were around two dozen red flares ignited in the Bob Shankly Stand shortly after the cinch Premiership game between Dundee and their Glasgow rivals, which had already been delayed because the visitors were held up in traffic, kicked off.

Fire alarms were triggered, police took control of the stadium, the match was held up further and referee Kevin Clancy walked both sets of players off the pitch until the air had cleared and the situation had stabilised.

The National: It all underlined the legislation which Police Scotland had pushed our elected representatives for – which gives them the power to “act on intelligence” and search anyone they feel may be carrying a pyrotechnic device outside of a football ground without warrant – has been utterly ineffectual.

Act on intelligence? Anyone with £5 in their bank account can go online on their smart phone and order a smoke grenade or a strobe off a dodgy website which will drop through their letterbox a couple of days later. There is no prospect whatsoever of the police or clubs preventing them from being smuggled through turnstiles such is their size, affordability and accessibility.

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A summit involving all of the major stakeholders in the game will be held in the coming weeks. Will they be able to come up with an effective  solution? It will take some out-of-the-box thinking for them to snuff out this concerning problem. Do not, however, put your mortgage on that happening. 

The fallout to the Dens Park debacle has certainly been wearying and predictable. Statements condemning the action of those responsible and highlighting of the dangers of pyrotechnics at football have been issued by the SPFL, the Scottish government, Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. But such warnings have been issued ad nauseum in the past. The message is just not getting through. Something has to change.

There have been renewed calls for the introduction of “safe pyro” to be seriously examined by the governing bodies and authorities in recent days. In many foreign countries, specially trained fans are allowed to set off carefully chosen devices in designated areas at certain times in matches if they have received permission from the club and local fire service beforehand.

Norway is one such nation. It is a complex situation there and is no longer, as it once was, condoned by their football federation. However, a blind eye is turned in certain parts.

I spoke to a senior official there earlier this year who confirmed that their stance had substantially reduced, if not eradicated altogether, illegal pyrotechnic use in the stands, kept the hardcore element among supports happy and made games far safer places.

So why not try something similar here? A picture has been painted online of Scotland being a football backwater once again this week because it has not embraced “ultra culture” in the same way as our more progressive European neighbours.

Those who specialise in the field, though, are highly sceptical. They point to the fact that pyrotechnics trigger alarm in crowded areas, not least among children, the elderlyThe National: and disabled, and emit toxic gases and chemicals which can cause serious problems for those with certain medical conditions like asthma and bronchitis regardless of where they are lit inside a stadium

The “no pyro no party” brigade – who spend their days howling at like-minded loonies into online echo chambers – are adamant there are specially designed “cold” flares which are non-toxic and non-carcinogenic. Again, the experts, those who actually understand the science, are having none of it.

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The legal ramifications of it all, too, are considerable. A club would leave itself open to getting sued by sanctioning an official display. Would they be prepared to take that risk? 

There is another concern. Would the sort of self-centred, balaclava-clad bampots who are in to this kind of nonsense just now be content to leave their flash bang at home if a select few were allowed to set them off in a cordoned off spot? Not a chance. After all, it is an integral part of the ultra culture.

If anything, “safe pyro” would be taken as an endorsement of their reckless behaviour and that could lead to a dramatic escalation in offences. The ramifications of that do just not bear thinking about. One game in mainland Europe last season saw 15,000 pyrotechnics used.

It is certainly worth having a full and frank discussion on the subject. Heavy handed policing, sniffer dogs, spot searches and the like, is not the solution. Nor is dishing out more bans the way ahead.

But maybe, in a country where there is no strict liability and clubs cannot be punished for the misdeeds of those who follow them, local councils closing down a stand could act as a real deterrent. They will be more than entitled to withhold safety certificates if the wellbeing of the general public continues to be endangered.