Sturgeon condemns ‘infuriating’ scenes as Rangers fans urged to ‘go home’

Tom Eden and Daniel Harkins, PA Scotland
·4-min read

Nicola Sturgeon has condemned the “infuriating and disgraceful” celebrations in Glasgow as she urged Rangers to ask people to go home.

Thousands of fans have flouted the coronavirus lockdown to gather in the streets and celebrate Rangers winning the Scottish Premiership – their first top-flight title in 10 years.

The mass gatherings have been widely condemned, with the First Minister warning that the celebrations could jeopardise plans to ease the coronavirus restrictions.

Scotland’s Justice Secretary and police chiefs have also urged rule-breakers to go home but the pleas have gone unheeded, with fans packed into George Square and congregating outside Ibrox stadium.

Rangers fans – Ibrox Stadium
Rangers fans celebrate in George Square (Jane Barlow/PA)

Shortly after 5pm, Police Scotland said a “small number” of arrests have been made and officers at the scene have been attempting to encourage fans to return home.

By 9.30pm, police officers had encircled a depleting group of fans at the base of the Scott monument and the force revealed more arrests had been made and fines issued.

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Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “I share folks’ anger at this.

“Everyone has made so many sacrifices in the past year and seeing a minority risk our progress is infuriating and disgraceful.

“It is deeply unfair to the entire country, and the police have a hard enough job already.

“Please ask fans to go home @RangersFC”.

The club have tweeted or retweeted 52 times in the six hours since they were crowned champions, but not addressed the mass gathering of fans.

Ms Sturgeon had previously offered her congratulations to Rangers and said: “I congratulate @RangersFC on the title win & recognise what a moment this is for fans.

“But gathering in crowds just now risks lives, and could delay exit from lockdown for everyone else.

“If those gathering care at all about the safety of others and the country, they will go home.”

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf also asked fans to stay at home.

He wrote on Twitter: “I understand Rangers fans will be desperate to celebrate but please remember you must stay at home.

“No mass gatherings are allowed. We cannot risk any further spread of the virus.”

Mr Yousaf warned that “Uefa will also be paying close attention as the Euros are around the corner”.

Hampden Park in Glasgow is due to host some games of the delayed 2020 European Championships in the summer.

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Shortly before 9pm, Police Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, divisional commander for the Greater Glasgow Division, urged people to “consider the public health impact of this gathering” and told fans not to travel into the city.

Mr Sutherland said: “We are continuing to police the ongoing gathering of football supporters in George Square today.

“Officers have continued to move to enforcement where appropriate with a number of further arrests and additional fixed penalty notices for breaches of the coronavirus restrictions, minor incidents of disorder and the use of pyrotechnic devices.

“We are now asking people to disperse and make their way home.

“For those not in attendance, please do not make your way to Glasgow city centre.”

Rangers fans – Ibrox Stadium
Rangers fans outside Ibrox Stadium (Jane Barlow/PA)

Alan Irvine, 43, from Glasgow, was out celebrating with his daughter Katie, 12, and son Lewis, six.

“The atmosphere when Steven Gerrard appeared was amazing,” Mr Irvine told the PA news agency. “He has now achieved a God-like status.

“This is the first title win of Lewis’s life and the first that Katie can remember as she was only a baby the last time. It was an amazing experience to see my children enjoy the success I experienced when I was a young Rangers supporter.

“As for any criticism, then I can only speak from what I have seen outside the Rangers training centre, and the absolute majority were wearing face coverings and adhering, as much as possible, to social distancing. In fact, I’ve seen less social distancing in some retailers.”

Darryl Mclean, a 34-year-old logistics manager from Glasgow, added: “I’m outside Ibrox stadium, thousands of people here.

“It’s very emotional, as fans we have been to hell and back, watching greedy directors out for themselves, been taken to the brink of extinction.

“But we stood firm and supported the club through thick and thin.

“I know we are not meant to be meeting outside at the moment but the occasion was just too momentous, it’s like Christmas for Rangers!”

Following Rangers’ victory on Saturday, fans broke coronavirus lockdown rules as they gathered in numbers outside Ibrox setting off flares.

Police said no arrests were made.