Old Firm clash at Parkhead gets the green light
Game on: Celtic v Rangers (pic: SNS Group).
Sunday’s Scottish Premiership meeting between Celtic and Rangers will take place as scheduled at Parkhead after authorities gave it the go-ahead.
The game had been in doubt after thousands of Rangers fans broke lockdown rules to celebrate their side’s recent title win in George Square, the scenes coming after Celtic fans had gathered at Parkhead in December in protest at the team’s poor form.
Police Scotland and the Scottish Government are satisfied with both clubs’ messaging ahead of the clash, with assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins saying: “We’ve been really pleased with the way both clubs have embraced everything that both ourselves and the Scottish Government have asked of them.
“The club captains, the club managers have put out really strong messaging. The club websites have again reiterated the message which is please stay at home.
“The match is on the television, there is absolutely no need for you to come to either Celtic Park, George Square or Ibrox stadium.
“So my message is really, really clear – stay home, because if you don’t stay home and you don’t heed the warnings of the police then potentially you could be arrested.
“What we don’t want is the terrible, terrible disease to flare up again and compromise the route map. It’s not fair for you to act in a selfish manner and for your own self-purpose come out and compromise the potential of the restrictions being lifted.
“We’ve been really encouraged by the reaction we’ve got from the fans groups. I think the message has landed and I’ll be really, really disappointed if we see on Sunday the scenes that we saw a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be really disappointed but be assured we will deal with it.”
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said there had been “extensive engagement” between ministers and officials, both clubs, the SPFL, Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council ahead of the match.
He said: “Celtic and Rangers have strongly emphasised to their supporters throughout this week that they must stay at home and not gather. I welcome their positive and constructive approach to working with us to ensure the game can safely take place behind closed doors.”
The match is Rangers’ first since ending Celtic’s dream of 10 league titles in a row but Hoops interim boss John Kennedy confirmed they will not be giving the newly-crowned champions a guard of honour.
He said: “It is a subject that has been brought up and I have seen several people talking about it.
“It was the same two years ago when we were champions and if I am being honest, I don’t think such a fuss was being made about it. I don’t see it as a big issue.
“For us, we spoke collectively about it and we won’t do it. It is not about lacking class, nothing like that, because we are a club that always shows class and dignity and do what is right.
“But ultimately this same group of players went in as champions and didn’t get the respect that time, if you want to call it that.
“They are the same players who are being asked to stand there. We have decided collectively as a group. We will just get on with the game, park that, so we will focus fully on the game and just put that to bed.”