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Sturgeon urges celebrating Rangers fans to ‘go home’

Tom Eden and Daniel Harkins, PA Scotland
·4-min read

Scotland’s First Minister, Justice Secretary and police have warned Rangers fans not to gather in numbers after their team won the Scottish Premiership title.

Rangers were crowned Scottish champions – their first title in 10 years – after Celtic were held to a draw by Dundee United.

Groups of fans have already gathered at Ibrox Stadium and set off flares in George Square in the city centre.

Police Scotland said a “small number” of arrests have been made and officers at the scene have been attempting to encourage fans to return home.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offered her congratulations to Rangers for clinching the league title but warned that gatherings could delay the easing of lockdown.

Rangers fans – Ibrox Stadium
Fans celebrate after Rangers win the Scottish Premiership title (Robert Perry/PA)

She tweeted: “I congratulate @RangersFC on the title win & recognise what a moment this is for fans.

“But gathering in crowds just now risks lives, and could delay exit from lockdown for everyone else.

“If those gathering care at all about the safety of others & the country, they will go home.”

Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf also asked fans to stay at home.

He wrote on Twitter: “I understand Rangers fans will be desperate to celebrate but please remember you must stay at home. No mass gatherings are allowed. We cannot risk any further spread of the virus.”

He warned that “Uefa will also be paying close attention as the Euros are around the corner”.

Hampden Park in Glasgow is due to host some games of the delayed 2020 European Championships in the summer.

Rangers fans – Ibrox Stadium
Rangers fans celebrate outside Ibrox Stadium (Jane Barlow/PA)

Police Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, divisional commander for the Greater Glasgow Division, said: “We are continuing to police the ongoing gatherings of football supporters in both George Square and outside Ibrox stadium today.

“Public safety remains our utmost priority and I would again remind fans that, in line with the current Scottish Government Coronavirus guidelines, all gatherings are currently restricted.

“Officers have made a small number of arrests and issued fixed penalty notices for breaches of the coronavirus restrictions, minor incidents of disorder and the use of pyrotechnic devices.

“We will continue with an appropriate policing response, as officers engage with those present, explain and encourage them to comply with the restrictions.

“Where appropriate, we have moved to enforcement and will continue to do so.”

He had previously said: “Our response will be measured and appropriate. We understand fans want to celebrate but they must do so safely and lawfully.

“We continue to ask everyone to do the right thing to stop the spread of the virus.”

The chief executive of the SPFL, Neil Doncaster, said: “I would like to warmly congratulate Rangers, their players, management team and directors on winning the SPFL Premiership.

Rangers fans – Ibrox Stadium
Rangers fans have been urged not to gather together (Robert Perry/PA)

“This has been a season like no other and Rangers deserve real praise for performing at such a consistently high level for so long. They are undoubtedly deserving champions.

“There are still a number of major issues to be settled this season, including European places, top six finishes and, of course, relegation.

“We are looking forward to an exciting run in to the end of the season.”

Alan Irvine, 43, from Glasgow, was out celebrating with his daughter Katie, 12, and son Lewis, six.

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“The atmosphere when Steven Gerrard appeared was amazing,” Mr Irvine told the PA news agency. “He has now achieved a God-like status.

“This is the first title win of Lewis’s life and the first that Katie can remember as she was only a baby the last time. It was an amazing experience to see my children enjoy the success I experienced when I was a young Rangers supporter.

“As for any criticism, then I can only speak from what I have seen outside the Rangers training centre, and the absolute majority were wearing face coverings and adhering, as much as possible, to social distancing. In fact, I’ve seen less social distancing in some retailers.”

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Darryl Mclean, a 34-year-old logistics manager from Glasgow, added: “I’m outside Ibrox stadium, thousands of people here.

“It’s very emotional, as fans we have been to hell and back, watching greedy directors out for themselves, been taken to the brink of extinction.

“But we stood firm and supported the club through thick and thin.

“I know we are not meant to be meeting outside at the moment but the occasion was just too momentous, it’s like Christmas for Rangers!”

Following Rangers’ victory on Saturday, fans broke coronavirus lockdown rules as they gathered in numbers outside Ibrox setting off flares.

Police said no arrests were made.