Rangers condemns 'small minority' of fans over Glasgow rampage as police urge club to impose ban

·4-min read
Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square on Saturday - PA
Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square on Saturday - PA

Rangers has condemned a "small minority" of fans for damaging the club's reputation by rampaging through Glasgow city centre on Saturday and attacking police as their title celebrations turned violent.

In a statement, the club said it had worked with the authorities "to ensure a consistency of message" that fans should not gather and "some of the scenes were unacceptable."

It said the actions of some of the 15,000 fans who ignored lockdown rules, despite the more transmissible Indian variant spreading through the city, "besmirched the good name of Rangers Football Club."

But one of the Scotland's most senior police officers challenged the club to go further and ban those responsible for the shocking behaviour, which included brawling, pelting police with missiles and anti-Catholic singing.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: "I think they've besmirched the great name of the club, and I don't think they should be anywhere near a football ground after this."

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Five officers were injured, with one suffering a serious face wound, while trying to marshal ranks of unruly fans. Twenty-eight people had been arrested by Sunday, with Police Scotland warning that "many more" would follow.

Footage on social media showed packs of flag-draped fans attacking each other, and launching traffic cones, plastic bollards and other missiles at lines of riot gear-clad police officers.

Images showed George Square strewn with hundreds of broken bottles, plastic bags and spent flares after crowds were moved out of the area at around 9pm.

Rangers said winning its 55th league title was a "historic day" for the club and expressed gratitude for the "constructive engagement" with the Scottish Government, city council and police ahead of last weekend's game with Aberdeen.

"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," the statement said.

"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. We will continue to engage with authorities as required."

Rod Petrie, president of the Scottish FA, said the scenes represented "an abomination, not a celebration" and they "served only to depict our game in the poorest light."

He said: "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. "

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Mr Ritchie defended the police's decision not to try to disperse the crowd earlier, citing its size and the fact it had been peaceful until violence later broke out.

"Every single one of those 15,000 that chose to gather took a selfish decision against the rules, because the rules are there to protect them and they are to protect others," he told BBC Radio Scotland.

"At what stage would there be dispersal that wouldn't have caused massive disruption to the people of Glasgow and the city? Our response is dictated by the behaviour of the crowd."

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

He said: "The notion that the very limited resources of the police service would go into a crowd of that size to enforce the dispersal, without any consideration of the inevitable consequences of such action, I think shows just how narrow the thinking of those that are critical of the police in those circumstances are."

John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, said "every exhortation was given by Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and Rangers Football Club" as he condemned the "absolutely reprehensible" behaviour.

He said: "There was absolutely no need for them to gather, absolutely no need whatsoever, and the warnings were given very clearly.

"Then some of them went on to behave in a loutish and thuggish fashion in George Square - devastating property, circulating and expressing vile anti-Catholic bigotry in the centre of the city of Glasgow."

Mr Swinney warned "there'll be various actions taken to address the behaviour and the conduct of the fans on Saturday."

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