Celtic v Rangers goes ahead despite call-off warning

The Old Firm derby will go ahead after clubs warned fans to stay at home.

Celtic v Rangers goes ahead despite call-off warning SNS Group

Celtic and Rangers will meet in their Premiership clash this Sunday after the police and the Scottish Government gave the go-ahead for the Old Firm derby.

The match had been in doubt following the title celebrations by Rangers fans that saw thousands break lockdown rules at Ibrox and George Square, with police reporting attacks on officers and arrests.

Big crowds of Celtic fans also gathered outside their stadium before Christmas to protest over their club’s form.

The Scottish Government made it clear last week that they were unhappy with the scenes in Glasgow and had said that they would take a decision on the derby closer to the game.

The clubs held talks with government and the police to discuss messaging and an approach to the high-profile fixture. Both clubs then issued messages to fans urging them to stay at home and observe all the current rules.

The relevant authorities have been persuaded that it is safe for the match to go ahead at Celtic Park and the sides will now meet for the third time this season.

Assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins said a “significant policing operation” will be in place for the match and urged supporters to behave in a responsible manner.

He told STV News: “We’ve been really pleased with the way both clubs have embraced everything that both ourselves and the Scottish Government have asked of them.

“The club captains, the club managers have put out really strong messaging. The club websites have again reiterated the message which is please stay at home.

“The match is on the television, there is absolutely no need for you to come to either Celtic Park, George Square or Ibrox stadium.

“So my message is really, really clear – stay home, because if you don’t stay home and you don’t heed the warnings of the police then potentially you could be arrested.

“What we don’t want is the terrible, terrible disease to flare up again and compromise the route map. It’s not fair for you to act in a selfish manner and for your own self-purpose come out and compromise the potential of the restrictions being lifted.

“We’ve been really encouraged by the reaction we’ve got from the fans groups. I think the message has landed and I’ll be really, really dissapointed if we see on Sunday the scenes that we saw a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be really dissapointed but be assured we will deal with it.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said there had been “extensive engagement” between ministers and officials, both clubs, the SPFL, Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council ahead of the Celtic v Rangers game at Celtic Park.

He said: “Celtic and Rangers have strongly emphasised to their supporters throughout this week that they must stay at home and not gather. I welcome their positive and constructive approach to working with us to ensure the game can safely take place behind closed doors.

“Police Scotland have confirmed there will be a significant police presence in Glasgow to maintain public safety.

“I urge the fans to listen to the messages from their clubs, the police and Government to stay at home.

“I also encourage Celtic and Rangers – and all other clubs in Scotland – to continue to urge their supporters to stay home during games until they are permitted to return.

“With a number of high-profile games scheduled for the remainder of the season, it is important there is no complacency and pressure is maintained to ensure we continue to supress the virus.”

Having already secured the Premiership title, Rangers are aiming to go the entire league season without defeat, while Celtic will hope to provide a bright spot in a disappointing season by beating their fierce rivals.

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