In a carefully worded statement that refused to mention the term ‘sectarian singing’, Rangers have announced that they will assist Police Scotland in identifying the ‘minority’ that were engaged in ‘inappropriate singing’ during Monday’s 4-2 win over Hibernian.
The statement, posted on the official club website, read: “Rangers believes it is appropriate at this time to remind everyone of the Club’s position on anti-social behaviour within football grounds.
“The Club operates a zero tolerance policy and continues to work tirelessly via the Follow with Pride campaign while supporting all initiatives aimed at tackling this problem.”
Despite video footage posted online, as well as the match footage itself from BT Sport, showing tens of thousands of Rangers fans were engaged in singing the banned Billy Boys song [with up to our knees in Fenian blood add-on]and targeting Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs with chants of ‘Fenian b*stard’, Rangers claimed in their statement that a ‘minority’ were responsible.
The statement added: “The football authorities and Police Scotland know the Club is committed to eradicating all forms of unacceptable behaviour and it is disappointing that a minority engaged in inappropriate singing during the match against Hibernian at Ibrox Stadium on Monday, December 28.
“At every home and away pre-match operations meeting unacceptable conduct is included on the agenda with the attention of both the Police and Stewards drawn to the need to deal with this matter robustly.
“The Club will assist Police Scotland in identifying those responsible for the unacceptable behaviour on Monday.”
As I mentioned in my article last night, stewards employed by Rangers Football Club through their Garrion Security Services, failed to deal with one single Rangers supporter shouting ‘Fenian cunts’ at Hibernian supporters in close proximity to where they stood. This inaction was captured on mobile phone footage by a Hibernian fan with stewards and police remaining motionless.
The statement also makes mention of ‘pre-match operations meeting unacceptable conduct is included on the agenda with the attention of both the Police and Stewards drawn to the need to deal with this matter’ – despite proof of inaction from the security – this comment is telling.
The SPFL place the onus on clubs to ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that its supporters do not engage in unacceptable conduct’.
With no zero tolerance or strict liability in place in domestic football – unlike UEFA competitions – clubs can claim to have done everything in their power and get off scot-free despite overwhelming evidence proving that their fans engaged in ‘unacceptable behaviour’.
Rangers’ carefully worded statement, published ahead of the SPFL making a decision based on the match delegate’s report, will give the governing body another easy decision – as again I mentioned in my article from last night.
With the club reminding the SPFL they have taken the ‘necessary steps to try and prevent such behaviour’ then they expect the SPFL to take no action against the club – while assisting the Police to round up a token ‘minority’ despite a majority being responsible.
Following the League Cup semi-final clash in February, between Celtic and Rangers, the SPFL was to review its policy on fan behaviour in the wake of significant sectarian singing. Since that announcement the SPFL have remained silent on their review and in short it merely stinks of paying lip service in the wake of criticism over their inaction.
While I applaud Rangers for issuing the statement, their failure to mention ‘sectarian singing’ fobbing it off as ‘inappropriate behaviour’ and their claim of a ‘minority’ being responsible is ludicrous and also a major cop out for fear of angering the very same supporters who have brought negative headlines upon the club at a time when they should have been revelling in a victory over league rivals – rather than songs of hate and bigotry.