NICOLA Sturgeon has admonished fans of Rangers FC who have broken lockdown to celebrate their football team’s victory in the Scottish Premiership.
Celtic were today held to a goalless draw by Dundee United, meaning Rangers’ 20-point lead at the top of the table is now unassailable.
As such, the team have won their 55th top flight Scottish title, and their first since 2011, ending Celtic hopes of achieving a historic tenth consecutive victory.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) March 7, 2021
The news of Rangers clinching the title has led to crowds gathering in Glasgow, both in the city centre and outside the club’s stadium in Ibrox.
Under current coronavirus restrictions, public gatherings are banned and a maximum of two people from two households are allowed to meet outdoors.
Football games are still taking place, but behind closed doors fans unable to attend.
Pictures from PA (above) show police gathered alongside crowds of hundreds celebrating their team’s victory outside Ibrox Stadium.
The Glasgow Times sent a reporter to George Square where scenes were only slightly smaller in scale.
Billowing smoke can be seen and shouting heard as people gathered in force despite lockdown restrictions.
— Stacey Mullen (@journostacey) March 7, 2021
In footage on Twitter large crowds are seen across Scotland with red, white, blue, and orange flares being set off, and even fireworks in some areas.
Rangers fans have returned to Ibrox to celebrate their first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years 🏆 pic.twitter.com/aD9BeN02A5
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) March 7, 2021
Fireworks are now being set off from the middle of the square as large groups continue to ignore social distancing rules. pic.twitter.com/dAmIpkLbwc
— Radio Clyde News (@RadioClydeNews) March 7, 2021
Larkhall main st. never made ibrox 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/ksR315LirN
— I’m feeling it! 5️⃣5️⃣ (@TimFreeZone) March 7, 2021
Rutherglen Rangers 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/NlYO0hU0NN
— dougie (@dougiew255) March 7, 2021
Responding to a Radio Clyde post showing the celebrations in the city’s George Square, the First Minister called for those present to think of others amid the pandemic.
She wrote: “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 & the country, they will go home.”
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 & the country, they will go home. https://t.co/MjzJJEhhsd
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf added: “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.”
Police Scotland said they were aware of the gatherings and would be responding in “measured and appropriate” fashion.
Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, divisional commander for the Greater Glasgow Division, said: “We are aware of proposed gatherings in both George Square and outside Ibrox stadium on Sunday, March 7, 2021.
“In line with current Scottish Government Coronavirus guidelines, all gatherings are currently prohibited and we would urge members of the public to comply with these restrictions.
“An appropriate policing response is in place and officers are already using the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging compliance with the restrictions.
“Our response will be measured and appropriate. We understand fans want to celebrate but they must do so safely and lawfully. We continue to ask everyone to do the right thing to stop the spread of the virus.”
The news follows from a preemptive “title party” held by Rangers fans on Saturday.
Ahead of the club’s match against St Mirren, a “large number” of fans gathered outside the Ibrox stadium in celebration.
Yousaf cautioned that the behaviour may put Scotland’s ambitions of hosting Euro games later this year in jeopardy. He warned that people should be in no doubt that “UEFA will also be paying close attention as the Euros are around the corner”.
Speaking yesterday, Chief Superintendent Sutherland said: “About 10am today, March 6, a large number of supporters gathered outside Ibrox Stadium and a number of pyrotechnic devices were set off.
“Our priority is public safety and an appropriate policing plan was in place and officers engaged with those present to explain and encourage compliance with restrictions.”
55 times pic.twitter.com/GTOQ3uBoGL
— BrandonStewart (@Brandonns72) March 6, 2021
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government added: “We are extremely disappointed supporters have gathered at Ibrox today.
“At this crucial stage of suppressing the virus, the actions of this minority of individuals jeopardises the safety of other supporters, the police on duty and the wider community.
“We will continue to engage with Police Scotland and the club.”