Tavernier: Players need more protection from fans
Police remove the pitch invader who confronted James Tavernier (pic: SNS Group)
Rangers captain James Tavernier insists more needs to be done to protect players after he was challenged by a fan during his side’s Premiership clash with Hibs.
The supporter squared up to the Gers skipper at Easter Road on Friday night after evading security and the full-back said the onus is on the clubs to ensure such incidents don’t happen.
“It shouldn’t be allowed at football stadiums,” said Tavernier. “Fans should be enjoying the game, they shouldn’t be able to jump on the pitch and interfere with any players.
“It should be kicked out of football. It shouldn’t be happening. No player should be targeted by fans going on the pitch. We had an incident a few years ago where they raided Hampden.
“These things shouldn’t happen. That is down to the clubs and the security to stop this.”
The SPFL issued a belated statement 48 hours after the flashpoint, with chief executive Neil Doncaster saying: “We utterly condemn the reprehensible behaviour shown by the individual who invaded the pitch on Friday night.
“We welcome the comments made by Leeann Dempster in tackling unacceptable conduct. We will of course review the specific circumstances of that event in conjunction with the match delegate and the police and take any appropriate steps.”
Rangers, who host Aberdeen in their Scottish Cup quarter-final replay at Ibrox tomorrow, had to settle for a 1-1 draw in Leith, although Celtic failed to take advantage after a 0-0 stalemate against the Dons at Parkhead.
The Hoops remain eight point clear at the top of the Premiership table.
Scores: Hibs 1 Rangers 1, Celtic 0 Aberdeen 0, Dundee 0 Hearts 1, Motherwell 3 Hamilton 0, Livingston 3 St Johnstone 1.
Villa player attacked by fan
Fan trouble also marred the weekend fixture card in England.
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish was attacked by a supporter during his side’s 1-0 Championship win at Midlands rivals Birmingham City yesterday.
The player was fortunate to escape serious injury after being punched from behind in the first half but he had the last laugh by scoring the only goal of the game after the break.
The English Football League said: “It’s a situation no player should ever be faced with.
“Those playing in the game must be able to do so safe in the knowledge they will not be subjected to this type of behaviour.
“While this incident falls within the remit of the Football Association, we will work with all the relevant parties to address the issue of player and match officials’ safety on the pitch and ensure the appropriate action is taken.”
The match of the day between Arsenal and Manchester United at The Emirates also saw a fan invade the pitch and confront the visitors’ Chris Smalling.
The Gunners won the match 2-0 to boost their hopes of finishing in the top four, United’s caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suffering his first domestic defeat since taking charge in December.
Zidane’s Madrid return
Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is being strongly linked with a shock return to the Bernabeu just nine months after walking out on the European champions.
Jose Mourinho had been tipped to replace Santiago Solari should the current boss be sacked after the Champions League defeat to Ajax.
Zidane steered Los Blancos to three successive Champions League wins and his return would be warmly welcomed by supporters stunned by his relatively recent departure.