Rangers condemn scenes that ‘besmirched’ club’s name

Ibrox club says 'small minority behaved inappropriately and in a mannor not reflective of our support' in George Square.

Rangers condemn scenes that ‘besmirched’ club’s name Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
Thousands of Rangers fans gathered in George Square.

Rangers said on Monday a “small minority of people behaved inappropriately and in a manner not reflective of our support” after thousands of fans defied Covid-19 warnings against large gatherings and massed in George Square at the weekend.

The club issued a statement condemning the scenes, describing them as “unacceptable” saying they “besmirched the good name of Rangers Football Club”.

Five police officers were injured and 28 arrests were made as a result of Saturday’s disorder, which came after the Ibrox side were presented with the Scottish Premiership trophy after completing the league season undefeated.

The scenes have been heavily criticised by political leaders, police officers and council officials.

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Rangers said in a statement on Monday: “Winning our 55th league title in our 150th year was a historic day for Rangers Football Club. The support from millions of our fans across the world has been incredible.

“The achievement by Steven Gerrard and his team has received plaudits from across the football family, including recognition by sportswriters, opposition players and managers.

“We are grateful to Scottish Government officials, Glasgow City Council and Police Scotland for the constructive engagement in the lead up to the weekend’s game. We worked closely with the authorities for two weeks before Saturday’s match to ensure a consistency of message.

“Sadly, a small minority of people behaved inappropriately and in a manner not reflective of our support. Some of the scenes were unacceptable and have besmirched the good name of Rangers Football Club. These so-called “fans” should reflect upon the values and ethos of our club, and consider the damage this does to the reputation of the club.

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“We will continue to engage with authorities as required.”

Images on Saturday showed George Square strewn with hundreds of broken bottles, plastic bags and spent flares after flag-draped fans had been seen attacking each other and launching traffic cones, plastic bollards and other missiles at lines of riot gear-clad police officers.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said on Monday “every exhortation was given by Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and Rangers Football Club” as he condemned the action of fans as “absolutely reprehensible”.

Meanwhile, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had been inudanted with messages about the “disgraceful scenes”.

Rod Petrie, Scottish FA President, said the scenes “represent an abomination, not a celebration”, adding they “brought embarrassment to the national game”.

He said in a statement: “While the majority of the club’s fan base will have celebrated this achievement safely and in line with COVID-19 guidelines across the country and beyond, the scenes witnessed in and around Glasgow’s George Square have brought embarrassment to the national game.

“Scenes that require the First Minister, justice secretary, Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Federation to issue condemnatory statements, and images that dominated the news agenda throughout the weekend, represent an abomination not a celebration. 

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“Those responsible for sectarian singing, for vandalism and for inflicting physical damage may attach themselves to football but cannot be considered football fans. Police Scotland have made a number of arrests and more are expected to follow.

“The Scottish FA has recently issued its equality diversity and inclusion strategy, Football Unites. Events on Saturday at George Square served only to depict our game in the poorest light and we condemn the behaviour in the strongest terms. 

“We empathise with fans who have been deprived of attending matches throughout this pandemic. That, however, does not excuse the behaviour of those who brought chaos to the streets in the name of football this weekend.”

The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) described the scenes as “utterly shameful” and the “last thing that Scottish football needs”.

An SPFL spokesperson said: “Rangers players, officials and fans rightly celebrated their dominant title win on Saturday and we offer our congratulations for what was a thoroughly-deserved trophy.

“However, the behaviour of many fans at Ibrox during and immediately after the game, and the subsequent major disorder in Glasgow city centre, was utterly shameful.

“As the club themselves have said, this behaviour was unacceptable, and especially so given the repeated advance warnings regarding social distancing.

“At a time when everyone in the game is working hard to enable long-suffering fans to get back into stadia, it is simply the last thing that Scottish football needs

“The police, emergency services and ordinary members of the public did not deserve to be caught up in this melee. We fully support the actions of the courts, the SFA and the club in dealing severely with those who have so badly let the game down.”

Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, tweeted images on Sunday night of some of the injuries sustained by officers, including broken bones and lost teeth.

He described the scenes as “horrific”, also telling the BBC programme: “There are almost no polite words left to describe how bad the events (were) in Glasgow at the weekend – and indeed the wider west of Scotland.

“Many of the officers who are quite long in the tooth have probably quite rightly described it as some of the worst violence that they’ve experienced in over 20 years of police service.”

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