Humza Yousaf has called on Scottish football chiefs to back new proposals to cut down on sectarian abuse in Scottish football. 

In an interview, the Justice Secretary hinted at potential ground closures in the future if clubs did not act to cut out sectarianism in Scottish football. 

READ MORE: SNP Government in secrecy row over football sectarianism report 

Speaking to The Sun, Humza Yousaf hailed action taken by Hearts and Hibs chief executives Ann Budge and Leeann Dempster, to stamp out the rise of hooliganism and bigotry in Easter Road and Tynecastle saying: “I have to praise the leadership of the likes of Leeann Dempster and Ann Budge at Hibs and Hearts who have led the way in terms of showing very, very robust action.

“Frankly, the women in the game, both on and off the pitch, are very much showing up the men in the game.”

Both Hearts and Hibs threatened drastic measures after coins, drinks and a coconut were thrown onto the pitch during the Edinburgh Derby, which saw Hearts close a section of the ground. 

Evening Times: Humza Yousaf said there had been a surge in disorder at football games Humza Yousaf said there had been a surge in disorder at football games

Although Scottish football chiefs have ruled out "strict liability" that could result in points being deducted or behind closed door games, the SNP minister said that not enough was being done by those running the game in Scotland.

He said: “There’s just not been enough measures taken by the clubs and the football authorities.

“But what I have been heartened by in the meetings I’ve had with clubs, players’ union, refs, supporters’ associations and footballing authorities is that there is a coalition of the willing that are determined to take some action to drive this out of our game.

Evening Times: Yousaf hailed the firm stance taken against an upsurge in hooliganism and bigotry in stadiums by Hearts owner Ann Budge and Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster.Yousaf hailed the firm stance taken against an upsurge in hooliganism and bigotry in stadiums by Hearts owner Ann Budge and Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster.

“There are disagreements on exactly what that action should be. There’s a range of options. But there’s a seriousness I’ve detected that people want to take action.”

Quizzed on who was resisting, and what the attitudes of the SFA and SPFL were, Mr Yousaf said: “I’m not going to go into it. I have these conversations with them very directly, very frankly, and there is some resistance.

“And there are people who are not taking it as seriously as they should. But I think we’re at a very pivotal tipping point. I’ve been having conversations for many months now.

READ MORE: Repealing Offensive Behaviour at Football Act 'sends out wrong message' 

“Before the start of next season I hope to have built a coalition that’ll say, ‘Yes, we’re determined to take more robust action than before’.”

Asked if licensing could be brought in, Mr Yousaf said: “It’s one of the options I’ve floated which has a lot of interest. Certainly licensing could have a huge impact.”

Yousaf also told The Sun that the surge in football disorder had been the decision to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, hitting out at James Kelly who campaigned to end the law saying: “Among those observing football, many say last season was worse than they can remember for many seasons.

“I think it would be foolish of people not to recognise there’s been a signal sent out to some quarters over the Act’s repeal — a very clear signal.

Evening Times: Leeann Dempster threatened action following disorder at Easter Road. Leeann Dempster threatened action following disorder at Easter Road.

“Only an ignorant individual would be able to argue otherwise. We warned of that.

"I’m not saying I’ve got reams of research but organisations that deal with sectarianism warned of the signal it would send to those who take part in that kind of behaviour that they are now empowered to do so.

“I think the opposition, and James Kelly in particular, should really be taking a long, hard look at himself and wondering whether his actions sent a signal to some.

“You have someone there who is the poster boy for the repeal of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. He has been conspicuously silent in the last few months on the sectarian issue.

“He promised a detailed action plan on how to tackle it. He has come up with nada. Zip. Nothing.

“I think he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

“People could have come back with amendments, there could have been redrafting. That’s not what happened. It was a wholesale repeal of the Act.”