Old Firm game could be postponed if assurances not given, says Yousaf

Neil Pooran, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·2-min read

Ministers could postpone the upcoming Old Firm game unless they have “absolute assurance” there will not be a repeat of last weekend’s scenes.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the government was meeting with Rangers, Celtic, Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council on Friday to discuss the March 21 derby.

Thousands of Rangers fans breached lockdown rules last weekend to celebrate the side’s first league win in a decade.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Friday, he said deferring the game was an option if concerns about fan behaviour remain.

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

He said: “We are at the most critical juncture in our fight against the virus and we cannot, simply will not, tolerate the scenes that we saw last weekend.

“And therefore if I cannot get absolute assurance, and the government cannot get absolute assurance, that we won’t see a repeat of such scenes or even worse things – potentially scenes of disorder involving groups of fans – then of course every option will be considered, that would include deferring the game.”

He said the game could go ahead if clubs sent out a clear message that their fans should stay at home.

If there was any suggestions of public disorder or large gatherings “we simply will not risk people’s health”, Mr Yousaf said, while a decision on the game will be made early next week.

Mr Yousaf later tweeted that the game would be postponed if there was any police intelligence saying fans were about to “square off” against each other.

Celtic later released a statement saying they had been clear about the need for fans to follow the rules throughout the pandemic, a message they would “re-emphasise” ahead of the March 21 game.

The club said: “The Scottish Government has already made clear to Celtic that it does not in any way associate the scenes last weekend with Celtic or our supporters.

“Although Celtic and our supporters are desperate to get back to Celtic Park to support the team, the club and our supporters are of course mindful of the risks associated with public gatherings at this important time.”

It continued: “We have communicated regularly around our fixtures and our supporters have worked with the club responsibly; the celebrations after our historic nine-in-a-row title triumph last summer and after our unprecedented quadruple treble Scottish Cup win in December are two key examples of that.

“We will re-emphasise that message for this fixture as we have done during the season and we are sure that our supporters will work with the club while the restrictions remain in place.”