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By ESPN Staff

SFA pledge to follow police advice over trouble

The Scottish Football Association insist police will always have the final say on the scheduling of Scotland's international matches.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has called for early kick-offs at important Scotland games to cut alcohol-related crime.

He wants to avoid a repeat of violence which followed the crunch Euro 2008 qualifier with Italy last November, which started at 5pm.

The SFA insist police and the other emergency services already have a crucial say in the timing of games, and will continue to do so.

An SFA spokesman said: 'Our position is that obviously the Italy game was an exceptional match, and the whole country was up for it.

'There has been no recent history of trouble with the Tartan Army and we work and will continue to work with police on the timing of matches.

'We take the lead from the police and emergency services.'

Although there were no major incidents around Hampden following the Italy match, which Scotland lost 2-1, cases of domestic violence on the day rose above average.

Mr MacAskill has claimed a jump in crime after the match was caused by people drinking all day.

He is now demanding big international games kick off early, as Old Firm matches do at weekends.

He told The Scottish Sun newspaper: 'It's not just Old Firm games where kick-off times are important. I was at the Scotland-Italy game where we didn't get the result we wanted.

'But we know ambulance call-outs went through the roof immediately after the match, as did domestic violence figures.

'That wasn't because we had lost. It was because people had been drinking too much all day.'

The timings of matches during Scotland's upcoming World Cup qualifying campaign have yet to be determined.

The SFA opted for a later than usual kick-off time for the Italy game in October following a request from Italian broadcasters, and after consultation with police.