Rangers ordered to shut section of Ibrox over sectarian singing
Ibrox: ‘club is open to anyone’ (pic: SNS Group)
Rangers have been ordered by UEFA to close part of Ibrox for Thursday’s return Europa Cup tie with Legia Warsaw following sectarian singing classed as “racist behaviour” in an earlier match.
A number of fans sang sectarian chants during the Europa League qualifying match against Gibraltar-based St Joseph’s on 18 July.
UEFA have told Rangers to close at least 3,000 seats and display a banner with “#EqualGame” on it in the empty section.
The game is is a sell-out and the club has yet to announce the area to be shut. The club condemned the behaviour and told anyone unable to behave in a civilised manner to “stay away”.
The club have been punished by UEFA in the past for sectarian singing from the stands, including a match against Villarreal in 2006 and Osasuna a year later, while they were also handed a £72,000 fine for chants during both legs of a UEFA Cup tie with PSV Eindhoven in 2011
The Legia Warsaw tie is in the balance after Thursday’s first leg in Poland finished goalless.
UEFA’s disciplinary regulations state Rangers could be fined €50,000 and forced to play a tie behind closed doors if there is a further offence.
The club said in a statement: “Our supporters have been asked repeatedly by the club to refrain from indulging in this, and other forms of unacceptable behaviour.
“Sadly, the warnings have fallen on deaf ears and the actions of this minority will cause the club and the majority of good and decent Rangers supporters to pay a heavy penalty.
“Unfortunately, a significant number of supporters, innocent of any wrongdoing, will be unable to attend next week’s match. This is deeply regrettable to all at the club and we hope that the guilty parties who attracted the attention of Uefa might reflect on the damage their unacceptable behaviour is causing Rangers and their fellow supporters.
“If any individual supporter is unable to behave in a civilised manner then please stay away from Ibrox and our club.
“You are harming Rangers and that is something a genuine supporter would never wish to do.”
Rangers chairman Dave King added: “Rangers is a club open to all and we will continue to convey this message at every opportunity through our Everyone Anyone initiative.
“Rangers has players and supporters from many religions, cultures and backgrounds but we are one and the same when we gather to support our club. If any supporter cannot accept that then Rangers is not the club for them.”
Police Scotland said there were three arrests on the night of the St Joseph’s game, but none for sectarian singing.
Neither the Scottish FA or Scottish Professional Football League commented.