Just two months after Rangers commended their fans for showing ‘restraint’ in the aftermath of their 3-2 Scottish Cup Final defeat to Hibernian at Hampden, the club has issued bans to fans arrested by authorities before judgements have been issued by the courts.
With scenes that mirrored that of the 1980 Scottish Cup Final riot, Scottish football could only watch on as Rangers and Hibernian fans fought one another on the pitch as stewards and police failed to deal with the initial pitch invasions from both sides.
But the most bewildering part of the whole sickening incident was the blatant ignorance and finger pointing of Rangers. They issued two statements in the space of two days praising their fans’ ‘restraint… under severe provocation’ even though every Tom, Dick and Harry watched as Rangers fans stormed the pitch to fight with celebrating Hibs fans.
The Ibrox club, at the time, claimed that others were attempting to ‘gloss over the appalling events’, that the ‘truth must not be distorted’ and that ‘any attempts to attach blame to our supporters for the disgraceful and violent behaviour, which led to our players and fans fearing for their safety, will not be accepted or tolerated by this Club’.
While the Rangers spokesperson – thought to be former BBC and Daily Record journalist James Traynor – pointed the finger elsewhere and claim Rangers fans were the victims, the statement went on to claim that the Rangers supporters only “encroached on the pitch….after having been faced with prolonged and severe provocation and in order to protect our players and officials who were being visibly attacked in front of them. Any club’s supporters would have done the same.”
Some newspaper reports also claimed that every Rangers player and official were attacked that day, this was subsequently ridiculed [as a story handed to them by Traynor’s PR company]and proven false by not only those watching the game live but also the partners of the Rangers players themselves. Those perpetrating this lie, when questioned on the report, have resorted to abusing those asking questions, posting comments mocking them or just plain ignoring their culpability in another lie spoonfed to them.
Now two months on from those sickening scenes at Hampden Park, Rangers have now issued bans on those fans who ran onto the pitch to ‘protect’ the Rangers players and officials who were being ‘attached’ on the pitch. Making a mockery of themselves and their stance in the initial aftermath of the cup final.
Fans who have been identified by authorities and charged with offences have been handed letter informing them of indefinite bans on attending Rangers games and their season tickets are subject to forfeiture without compensation. Despite many of those now banned not found guilty of any offences as yet.
The letters, signed by Rangers head of safety and security David Martin, state: “It has been brought to my attention that you were arrested at the above match. As you will be aware the purchase of a match ticket is deemed to constitute unqualified acceptance of all the ground rules and regulations.
“Your arrest is a breach of these regulations and has brought the reputation of this club into disrepute. Rangers FC has made it abundantly clear it will not tolerate any form of unacceptable behaviour.
“I write to inform you that with immediate effect you are banned from attending all football matches involving Rangers FC, home and away, for an indefinite period.
“In addition we are checking our database to see if you have a current season ticket and should, this be the case, we would inform you that your alleged criminal conduct will result in your season ticket being forfeited without compensation.”
The stance from the club has enraged Rangers fans, with one commenter stating: “[The Rangers board] don’t care about the fans – we are all sacrificial lambs to them so they get their cosy positions and jobs at tables.”
Another wrote: “A clear case of thanks for defending the club and players on the day in question but now we have all season monies in we can start banning people who were rightly lauded for defending the club and staff. As own goals go this tops anything I’ve witnessed on the park.”
While one went as far as claiming the club were stealing money from the fans, he claimed: “Where are the grounds to take £400 off you with no refund? This is fucking shocking, it is stealing!”
The new supporters group Club 1872 issued their own statement in the aftermath, they said: “Club 1872 has received several enquiries from supporters regarding bans imposed by Rangers on fans charged with offences following the Scottish Cup Final. We contacted Rangers to seek clarification on why this action was taken, in some instances prior to an outcome to the cases.
“Rangers informed us that it has always been their policy to introduce bans for those who are charged with serious offences occurring at matches involving the club. This policy is in line with the terms and conditions of season tickets issued to supporters and football authority and ground regulations.
“It was also brought to our attention that both court bail and police bail following such charges routinely includes conditions which ban individuals from every ground in the UK until such time as their cases are heard. We do not have any details on the specific bail conditions in these cases but would expect them to largely follow suit. Rangers’ letter formalises their position on bans routinely imposed by the courts in these situations.
“We have made it clear to Rangers that should any of the individuals involved be found not guilty then we would expect their bans to be reviewed and lifted and that we would assist such individuals in facilitating that review with Rangers in the event that they requested our assistance.”
This is the first major test of the independent status of Club 1872 and it seems Rangers fans are less than happy with the new group, their defence of the club banning fans and the lack of support for fans.
A crowdfunding effort by Rangers fans to raise £10,000 to meet the legal bills of those hooligans arrested over their actions at the cup final – has still not reached its target.