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Scotland's deputy first minister calls Rangers fans' celebrations 'shameful'

Ewan Murray
·3-min read

The fallout from celebrations of Rangers’ Scottish title win has continued after the country’s deputy first minister took aim at “shameful” ignoring of Covid rules by jubilant fans. John Swinney also heavily criticised Rangers for what he believes was inadequate messaging around public gatherings in Glasgow.

Supporters gathered at Ibrox before and after Rangers’ 3-0 win over St Mirren on Saturday. A day later, the championship was confirmed by Celtic’s failure to win at Dundee United and fans descended both on Ibrox and George Square in Glasgow city centre. Police Scotland say they made 28 arrests on Sunday for cases including assault of officers.

Related: 'It's incomparable' – Rangers fans' journey from Brechin to another title

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, had already condemned the scenes before Swinney was equally critical. “The behaviour of some fans has been an absolute disgrace and has undoubtedly cast a shadow over what should have been a special day for the team,” the Scottish National Party MSP for Perthshire North said. “To see so many people deliberately flouting rules with no regard for the safety of others is shameful.”

Turning his attention towards Rangers themselves, Swinney added: “There should have been sustained messaging from Rangers throughout the weekend. That would have given a very clear signal from the leadership of the club.”

Explaining his belief there had been “deafening silence” from the Rangers executive, Swinney said: “I think it would have been the duty of Rangers to say clearly and simply to fans that they should not come out to celebrate. The Scottish government will be making our extreme disappointment at the lack of leadership clear to the team management. We will be speaking to all the authorities about what further assurance they can give to us ahead of future planned games.”

Swinney and Rangers confirmed meetings had taken place before the title was secured amid widespread awareness that gatherings were likely. Swinney referred to damage to memorial benches in George Square, highlighted on social media.

Steven Gerrard greeted celebrating Rangers fans through the window of the Ibrox dressing room after Saturday’s 3-0 win against St Mirren
Steven Gerrard greeted celebrating Rangers fans through the window of the Ibrox dressing room after Saturday’s 3-0 win against St Mirren. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

Shortly before Swinney took to the podium for a routine Covid briefing, Rangers issued footage from Steven Gerrard’s weekend pre- and post-match press conferences. The club’s manager stated: “We all have to abide by government rules,” while adding the situation was “out of my control”. Gerrard said: “People have to understand the situation our supporters are in, what they have been through. The priority is that the fans stay safe.”

Tannoy announcements around Ibrox on Saturday urged fans to disperse. However, Gerrard and some players greeted supporters from dressing-room windows shortly after the team celebrated behind a stadium gate.

In a statement, Rangers said: “We reiterate the message from our manager, Steven Gerrard, who highlighted that fans should adhere to government guidelines – stay safe, socially distance and look after each other in this difficult time.

“We are aware there is the possibility of more, significant milestones within this season, and we will continue to proactively engage with key stakeholders to maintain a cohesive message in relation to government guidance at this present time. We look forward to further open dialogue with the government, police, SPFL and other key stakeholders.”