The Government says it is prepared to work with Stormont on ways of tackling football hooligans - reversing their previous hostility to outlawing sectarian chants and pitch invasions.
The Northern Ireland Office says Security Minister Paul Goggins is ready to meet Culture Minister Edwin Poots to talk about "an agreed package" for making football matches safe.
The Stormont administration and football officials want that package to include a new law.
During a debate on a hooligans law at the Assembly yesterday, MLAs referred to former Northern Ireland footballer Neil Lennon and hurler Darren Graham, who were both subjected to sectarian abuse.
Mr Poots repeated that he is in favour of establishing a series of offences that could be used to keep unruly fans in line.
But because the NIO is still responsible for criminal justice matters, the Government would have to steer that law through Parliament.
Earlier this year, the NIO was sceptical about "cluttering the statute book" with a law "for which there is no demonstrable need".
But last night a spokeswoman said: "Our Minister Paul Goggins would be pleased to meet with Edwin Poots and work with him to develop an effective and agreed package in relation to safety and behaviour of sports spectators."
During an Alliance-sponsored debate on the matter yesterday, Mr Poots told MLAs that he wrote to Mr Goggins about the matter last month.
Anti-hooligan laws have been in place in England for 16 years, while in Scotland an additional law is in place to deal with sectarian chanting.
Mr Poots said he wants offences created around pitch invasions, offensive chanting, missile throwing and bringing bottles, flares or fireworks into grounds. He also called for restrictions on alcohol on public transport on the way to and from designated matches, a ban on ticket touts and the facility to prevent hooligans from travelling abroad for matches.
"I am convinced that measures to address these serious issues have a key part to play in making our sports grounds safer and more attractive to a larger and wider audience," he told the Assembly.