Scottish Parliament asked to save Scottish football logos from archaic law

Written by Emilio Casalicchio on 11 April 2016 in News

The Scottish Parliament is being asked to review a 400-year-old law that threatens to ban Scottish football clubs from using heraldic shield emblems

The Scottish Parliament is being asked to review an archaic law that threatens to ban Scottish football clubs from using heraldic emblems.

According to a Scottish Parliament Act passed in 1592, the Lord Lyon King of Arms is tasked to prosecute anyone who uses arms not complying with string of technical rules.

Airdrieonians were forced to change their logo under the law last season after it was found in breach of the law for letters contained within the shield and Ayr United has asked fans to redesign the emblem it has been using since the 1950s because it contains a saltire.

It is thought up to 25 other Scottish football clubs could be prosecuted under the legislation designed to regulate heraldry in the 16th century.


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It had been argued that although the rule only exists in Scotland, it would have to be changed in Westminster.

SNP MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock Corri Wilson called on the UK Government to step in and review the law “in respect of the restrictions it places on the granting of arms”, but cabinet minister John Penrose argued it was a matter for the Scottish Government.

“We have considered the matter and concluded that the judicial functions of the Lord Lyon are devolved to the Scottish Parliament under paragraph 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998,” he said in a written parliamentary answer.

“Accordingly, any question in relation to the judicial functions of the Lord Lyon is for Holyrood rather than Westminster.”

Wilson told Holyrood’s sister website PoliticsHome: "It's disappointing that this issue continues to be passed from pillar to post.

"Obviously the Court of the Lyon acting in a judicial capacity is a devolved power, but the granting of the arms is a reserved matter.

“Meanwhile our local football clubs are left in the middle with the prospect of huge financial implications.

"If the football badge was granted then there would be no need for any judicial involvement. I will continue to pursue this matter."

The Airdrieonians emblem came to the attention of the Procurator Fiscal for the Court of the Lord Lyon after someone tried to trademark it. The Ayr logo received a public complaint.

Alexander Green, the Procurator Fiscal for the Court of the Lord Lyon, has said the issue is not uncommon and he defended the archaic rules.

"Scotland probably has the best heraldry in the world. It is very pure,” he said in November.

“It is a wonderful example of something that has cultural importance for Scotland. I think it is something that is worth preserving.”

English football clubs are not subject to prosecution because a difference in the law allows them to be registered as trademarks and protected as such.

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