Union Bears absent from Rangers match after 'anti-police banner' row

The fans' group opted not to take their seats after Rangers refused to allow the banner.

Union Bears absent from Rangers’ Scottish Cup win after ‘offensive banner’ row SNS Group

Rangers supporters group The Union Bears missed the team’s Scottish Cup win over Raith Rovers after the club refused to allow a banner they said carried an “anti-police” message.

The Ibrox side continued their defence of the trophy with a 3-0 win that put them in the semi-finals of the competition but television coverage of the game showed one corner of the ground with empty seats.

That area is usually filled with supporters from the Union Bears group but broadcaster Viaplay’s commentator Rory Hamilton said that the group was standing outside the stadium rather than taking their seats.

Hamilton said: “There is the rather empty area where the Union Bears usually sit.

“We do understand they are the vicinity of the stadium, just outside.”

Rangers have now revealed that they refused to allow the group to bring in a banner that the club said was offensive and targeted Police Scotland.

A Rangers spokesperson said: “Rangers refused to allow an offensive banner relating to the police service to be displayed at today’s match. 

“The Union Bears elected to absent themselves from the stadium because the club would not permit the offensive anti-police banner display.”

The group disputed that version of events on their Twitter page, saying that they had panned to display “various legitimate message banners highlighting different issues surrounding our club and support”.

The supporters claimed that “Prior to the match, Police Scotland and Rangers FC jointly removed these materials without our knowledge and blocked access to regular matchday materials.”

The statement continued: “From Rangers FC, this is a clear breakdown of trust and an attempt to silence our group’s valid concerns. As a consequence we decided to remove active support and not enter the ground as a group.

“This attempt to suppress the feeling amongst the Rangers support will not be successful, and only stands to confirm the concerns that the fans hold.”

The statement was accompanied by a photograph of fans holding a banner that read “Ross Wilson: Director of failure”, referencing the club’s director of football.

Goals from Connor Goldson and Scott Arfield, along with an own goal from Raith’s Ryan Nolan, earned Rangers a place at Hampden.

Michael Beale’s side will now face one of Celtic, Inverness, Ayr United or Falkirk in the semi-finals with the draw for the final four taking place on Monday night.

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