It’s taken me a wee while to write about this because I didn’t want my initial expletive and conspiracy theory filled response to go up here. That said, a day and a half after the news first broke, Um still utterly horrified at what has happened to what looked to be one of the best MMA events Scotland was to host this year.
On Wednesday night, On Top announced that they had been forced to cancel their long-scheduled event due to objections for. The authorities and through the course of yesterday it emerged that the police advised the venue – the Glasgow Hilton – that they faced prosecution if the event went ahead as they did not have the appropriate license (for a more professional and directly sourced account, please go here.)
This is the second time in succession that On Top events have been cancelled late on due to the authorities getting involved, with last year’s event at Bellahouston Leisure Centre cancelled as the authorities felt they could not spare the manpower to police the event.
This was clearly in reference to the previous On Top card where a brawl erupted in the crowd, but while I was not at that event I have been to a half dozen MMA cards in Glasgow with no such trouble and know of far more which have gone off without a hitch.
It seems astonishing to me that a city council and police force which gleefully facilitates sectarian marches and outright racist protests, who happily licenses bars and venues known to generate violence and trouble seems to have such a problem with a growing sport, known to have social and health benefits because of an isolated incident (which pales in comparison to the wrap sheet of the Gordon Street taxi rank or any given city centre street on a Saturday night) or an ignorant and wrong headed perception of MMA.
Of course, it could well be that the Hilton did indeed not have the correct license, as the promoters were promised and that is the sum-total of the objection, in which case the fault lies wholly with them.
That said, the Hilton has put on boxing events before and I believe MMA has never previously needed a sports specific license in the UK as the sport is not yet legally recognised as such and has no governing oversight in the UK. This seems suspicious…
In either care, surely such official objections could have been raised before athletes, support staff and fans had arranged to travel from overseas, before the promotion had spent a fortune on promotion and other expenses?
The whole thing seems at best lackadaisical and unprofessional and at worst outright malicious against the sport or On Top in particular.
I sincerely hope this is not a further indication of establishment bias against the sport of MMA in Glasgow and I pray that the upcoming FFC and SFC cards later in the year do not suffer similar ‘objections.’
Anyway, looking to the positive, here’s hoping to a cracking card in Inverness tonight as Caledonian Combat take centre stage for Scottish MMA.