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Case Studies

Rangers fighting condemned

A small minority of people behaved inappropriately and besmirched the good name of Rangers Football Club, said the Glasgow club after thousands of fans defied covid-safety rules and celebrated the club’s Scottish Premier League title, leading to an initial 28 arrests, with more likely to follow, say police.

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said that some 15,000 fans gathered in George Square, in Glasgow city centre on Saturday, although police and Rangers FC had asked fans not to gather. ACC Ritchie said: “There is no easy way to stop that number of people who are intent on coming into a city from doing so without causing significant disruption to everyone else.

“Our policing approach will always be to manage a crowd in a situation like this, and minimise disruption to the wider public, while keeping everyone safe.

“The gathering was initially peaceful and throughout the day Police Scotland managed the crowd appropriately, tackling anti-social behaviour and encouraging dispersal under Scottish Government Coronavirus regulations.

“However, later the crowd in the square became aggressive and violent, fighting with each other, as the effects of alcohol took hold.

“At this point, public order officers moved in to break up the crowd and make them disperse. They began to throw missiles at us and five officers were injured, which is unacceptable. No one should expect to be assaulted when they go to their work.”

Police have since said they are making ‘extensive enquiries’, reviewing CCTV, video and still images, that can be sent to police via their Major Incident Public Portal (MIPP). In most of mainland Scotland, the number of people and households that can meet inside homes in Level 2 has lately been increased to six people from three households; and up to eight people from eight households to meet outdoors.

It’s not the first high-profile mass disorder involving Rangers; thousands of ticketless fans rioted widely in Manchester when the club was playing in the city in the 2008 UEFA Cup Final.

At Rangers’ Glasgow rivals Celtic, meanwhile, fans disregarding social distancing were demonstrating outside the Parkhead ground from November in protest at the relative unsuccess of the club this season.

Also, other clubs’ fans have ignored covid rules, this summer and last, to celebrate success, such as Liverpool FC’s Premier League title, and Coventry’s promotion to the Championship in 2020; and Blackpool’s and Bolton’s gaining of a play-off place this spring, to name only a few. Likewise fans of the clubs that signed up to the abortive European Super League demonstrated outside grounds, most notoriously at Old Trafford and outside a hotel hosting the Manchester United squad on May 2, causing the unprecedented postponing of a match due to trespass on the ground while matches were going ahead during lockdown without spectators.

More in the June print edition of Professional Security magazine.

Photo by Mark Rowe; Ibrox, Rangers FC stadium.


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