It was billed as An Audience with Paul Gascoigne, but it descended into a night of bigotry and sectarian singing.
The former Rangers and England legend Paul Gascoigne was at the speaking event at the Magnum Leisure Centre in Irvine at the weekend, but those attending numbering around 1000 belted out sectarian songs including The Billy Boys, f**k the Pope and the IRA.
Footage showed Gascoigne with a beaming smile as the audience sang the sectarian songs and add-ons with the former Rangers midfielder joining in the singing also.
A spokesman for KA Leisure, who own the Magnum centre, said: “We can confirm that KA Leisure hired the main hall at the Magnum Leisure Centre to a local promoter for the An Audience with Paul Gascoigne event.
“During the duration of the event KA Leisure staff actively discouraged any sectarian behaviour. KA Leisure share Councillor Clarkson’s views and will work with the council regarding future events.”
Ignite Promotions & Fitness refused to comment on the sectarian singing at the event, but in a facebook post about the event they said: “Oooosh…..what a night last night! Thank you to every single one of you for making it an amazing night, especially the production team, all the staff especially our volunteers, our sponsors, Tom Miller, Andy Goram, Gary Little and of course GAZZA!”
Gascoigne joined Rangers from Lazio in 1995 for £4,300,000 and went on to play 103 times during his three-year stint at Ibrox scoring 39 times.
In January 1998, the Englishman courted controversy after he played a mock flute during the New Year derby match at Celtic Park in front of the home support – he as fined £20,000 by Rangers following the incident.
This was the second time he had played the loyalist gesture in front of the Celtic support.
Speaking in a recent documentary about his life, Gazza said: “I didn’t know what it really meant the first time, so I got off with it. The second time I knew… the Celtic fans were harassing us and so I did The Sash thing… and then I got the letter from the IRA threatening to kill us.”
Gascoigne’s personal life has been marred by his history of drink and drug problems, the violent abuse of his ex-wife Sheryl Gascoigne, convicted of drink driving and assaulting a railway security guard at Stevenage railway station.
In July 2010, Gascoigne appeared at a stand-off between police and gunman Raoul Moat – claiming that Moat was a friend and that he had brought him ‘a can of lager, some chicken, fishing rod, a Newcastle shirt and a dressing gown’.