It was a game that was supposed to celebrate former Stirling Albion owner and chairman Peter McKenzie. However the testimonial was overshadowed by an element of Rangers fans singing sectarian songs.
Stirling Albion had to issue a warning to a section of the Rangers support over singing during the first half of the match, including an announcement over the PA system at half time.
A spokeswoman for Central Scotland Police said: “There was sectarian singing from a section of the visiting support, leading to warnings from the club during the first half. Towards the end of the half there was discussion between police and the club about pausing the match to allow further warnings to be delivered. It was decided to wait a short time and deliver such warnings at half time. This was done by the club. At no time did the police recommend that the match be called off.”
The Central Scotland Police spokeswoman added: “Increased policing and stewarding during the second half led to a reduction in this behaviour. The focus of police was to ensure the safety of all people attending and no arrests were made at the time.
“Events will, however, be subject to further review including liaison with clubs via the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland football sub group. It is disappointing that so-called fans have seen fit to disrupt this event and to tarnish the name of their club in this way.”
Fans were also warned about setting flares off as well as fireworks.
A Stirling Albion club spokesperson said: “I think the (Rangers) fans were playing up and over-reacting a bit to what was happening with number of police. The firecrackers going off created a dangerous situation as well. Their was suggestion game should be stopped but not abandoned.”
New York Times and STV Football writer Graham Ruthven, who was in attendance at Doubletree Dunblane Stadium, said on his twitter page last night:
Announcement made over tannoy here at Stirling. ‘Please refrain from singing songs of a sectarian nature. Those who do will be ejected.’
This latest sectarian singing incident comes just under three months after the Ibrox side were fined €40,000 and their fans banned for one European away game after sectarian singing in their two Europa League ties against PSV Eindhoven.
And only a day after First Minister Alex Salmond announced a 40-point initiative to tackle a range of problems, including sectarianism.
Salmond said: “We should have dealt with this sooner. Which sponsor would want to invest in a tarnished product? I hope there won’t be another season like the last one. There is a ‘screw the nut’ element to this which all decent fans understand. I don’t want to take passion out of football or badges of identity. But sectarianism is hating other people. The future of Scottish football is at stake. Sometimes things need to come to a head before you get consensus for action. There is a realisation that something which used to be tolerated should no longer be tolerated.”
Source: STV Sport & Daily Record