The British military have announced that Rangers will no longer be able to hold a similar remembrance day tribute like that on show at Ibrox back in November, after military chiefs branded the tribute as ‘inappropriate’ following complaints.
Major General Nick Eeles, General Officer Commanding Scotland, met with RAF and Navy counterparts and have decided to ban any repeat, before stating that a minute’s silence is a more appropriate way to mark those who served, fought and died for the nation.
Writing to one complainant, Eeles wrote: “The General Officer Commanding Scotland has now had the opportunity to review the events that took place at Ibrox Park with the other service heads in Scotland.
“They share your view that the format of the half-time event and the conduct of those taking part in it was inappropriate for Remembrance weekend and will take steps to ensure that such events are conducted with appropriate solemnity in the future.
“They believe that the minute’s silence before the match was the correct way to mark the occasion and Army commanders will be directed to restrict future Remembrance events to this type of activity in the future. The focus of Remembrance activities must be on the fallen, not on those who are serving in the Armed Forces today.”
The Ibrox tribute was organised by the Rangers Charity Foundation to raise cash for Erskine Hospital, more than 400 members of the Army, Navy and RAF were guests of honour. The players also wore strips adorned with the poppy during the match and a mass display from the fans was displayed before kickoff.
An Army spokesperson said: “Half-time events such as this one will no longer happen at Remembrance Day matches and we apologise if anyone was offended by what they felt was inappropriate behaviour.
“Those from the Army who attended the match were invited as a thank you from the club as they wanted to show support for the job they do and raise money for Poppy Scotland.”
One letter to military chiefs, read:
Dear General Eeles,
You will, I imagine, share my dismay that Army, Navy and Royal Marines service personnel were participants in a travesty of a ‘Remembrance’ parade at Ibrox Park, Glasgow, during half-time in a football match being played between The Rangers FC and Alloa Athletic last week-end.
Whatever the original intention may have been, the occasion was allowed to degenerate into what I can only describe as a show of sectarian support – by the military personnel involved – for one particular section of Scottish society and one particular football club.
It was in no way respectful of the men and women (among whom I include my own father) who suffered death or injury in the second World War, but was an absolutely undisciplined display of sectarian bias by the army unit(s) involved, who, I believe had balloted to be present because of their personal support for the aims and ideology of The Rangers FC.
In my view, the officer who authorised the use of tax-payers’ money for such a shameful partisan display, and the senior officer present on the day (if indeed, any officer was present) should be asked to apologise to the people of Scotland for being so crassly insensitive to the feelings of many like me, who distance themselves from the poisonous ideology behind Orangeism and who do not wish their support for the Armed Forces of this country to be predicated on a false assumption that Orangeism equates to patriotism.
I am copying this letter to Rear Admiral Hockley (Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland) and to Major-General Davis, CBE RM (Commandant General Royal Marines).
Rangers have regularly held events to honour the British military on match days, but now servicemen and women will only be allowed to participate in a minute’s silence.
Rangers fans have hit out at the decision.
One poster calling himself scarkev on Rangersmedia, said: “It really is a sad reflection on our bitter little country that you cannot celebrate the sacrifices and risks these men and women suffer for our country.”
While ozblue added: “Before you know it, there will be a dictum arrive at Ibrox ordering that the Union Flag will no longer be allowed to be flown on the flagpoles of our stadium. Scotland…..You have lost all respectibility and honour.”
However, a number of Rangers fans welcomed the decision, hugh_capet said: “That goodness for that. These displays are rather embarrassing and lack sincerity. The aim of them is simply to antagonize taigs rather than remember old soldiers.”
And Ush added: “This is just my opinion on it. I think Remembrance Sunday should be about quiet reflection for the people who fought and died for this country. The poppy display was amazing and having the gun start and finish the minute silence was a good idea.
“I think we should have a separate Armed Forces day to celebrate the wonderful job the current Troops are doing for the country when they can come on the pitch and enjoy the affection and appreciation we have for them. Again I think Remembrance Sunday should be reflection for the fallen.”