Members of the Blue Order and the Union Bears unfurled three large banners that read “SNP Weak On Criminals, Tough On Fans”, “Undefinable Law Against Supporters” and “Football Fans Not Criminals”, while chanting anti-SNP songs and First Minister Alex Salmond.
According to reports in this mornings papers, the protest is ‘understood to have been prompted by the arrest of three men during a match in Dunfermline on Saturday’.
Last night’s protest last two-thirds of the game – similar to the Green Brigade’s 50 minute protest – before the police ended the protest.
After Saturday’s protest by the Celtic group, I wrote a piece about it pointing out that in my opinion, only the Green Brigade and their tag-alongs were the only ones that should be worried about the proposed legislation.
Today a Scottish Government spokesperson told The Scotsman that: “Law-abiding football fans – who are the overwhelming majority – have absolutely nothing to worry about from the proposed legislation, but sectarianism and other offensive behaviour will not be tolerated in modern Scotland.”
Likewise I put my opinion on those Rangers fans also. If you have nothing to hide, if you go to watch the football for the football then you have nothing to worry about. Such a protest in my opinion like I said on Saturday, has nothing to do with the majority of Rangers fans, just those who do peddle the bile such as these groups. As I stated on Saturday and likewise today, the protest is self-centered and egotistical view – that they are speaking about all Rangers fans.
A statement was published this afternoon by the two Rangers supporters groups. It stated:
“On September 27th 2011, The Union Bears and The Blue Order held a protest at Ibrox Stadium in the opening ten minutes of the match against Kilmarnock. The protest consisted of anti-SNP chanting and the unfurling of 3 banners namely; “Undefinable Laws Against Supporters”, “SNP Weak On Criminals – Tough on Fans”, “Football Fans Not Criminals”.
The protest was not challenged by the police and passed peacefully, with other sections of the Rangers support showing unity with the message of the protest.
For clarity, there are several reasons why we feel we must make a stand on this issue. We are protesting against the implementation of the ‘Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill’ as proposed by the current SNP government. This bill discriminates against football fans, singling out a demographic of the population for specific laws. The implementation of the bill means that almost any football supporter, whether you be vocal in support of your team or not, could be subject to arrest without significant police evidence of any actual offence caused.
The criminalisation of football supporters threatens the game which we all love. Supporters attending a football match will now be met with fear of arrest, losing your job and being named in newspapers despite not yet having your court case heard.
The Union Bears and The Blue Order would like to make it clear we are against Sectarianism and Racism in all forms. We feel current legislation covers offences of these matters and further legislation is neither necessary nor required. We believe this action is being used for political gain, and being supported by police officers in order to preserve their level of responsibility and therefore preserve their level of funding in what are economically challenging times.
We have all seen that our supporters are subject to unnecessary harassment from police officers and we have and will continue to work with the Rangers Supporters working group on resolving these matters.”
There were reports from last night’s game that a number of Rangers fans had been arrested and ejected from the ground. But according to the Rangers groups statement, it had nothing to do with their protest. They said: “In a completely separate incident tonight, around 100 supporters in the BF1 section walked out in protest at the heavy-handed stewarding and policing which took place within that section at the match. The groups have issued a complaint to the police and the club and this will be dealt with in due course. We would like to thank the rest of the Rangers family for the support shown towards the group regarding this matter.”
They also listed some unsubstantiated comments in regards to trouble at the game last night.
The group added: “….the whole reason for the stewards getting involved was a young supporter in the section having a water bottle in the ground. One which he had cleared with another steward before entering and was told wouldn’t be a problem.
“Further to this incident was a situation where mounted Police outside the stadium charged at young supporters including one who was disabled. He was told by the mounted officers to run.”
Neither incident could be clarified other than what the group stated.