Arrests made as Rangers fans’ title party turns violent

GLASGOW: Police make an arrest as Rangers fans celebrate in George Square in Glasgow on Saturday, after Rangers lift the Scottish Premiership trophy for the first time in 10 years. – AFP

GLASGOW: Three police officers were injured and more than 20 arrests made after Rangers fans packed into the streets of Glasgow on Saturday to celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership with an unbeaten record. Steven Gerrard’s side had already been confirmed as champions over two months ago, but fans gathered in large numbers outside Ibrox Stadium for a 4-0 win over Aberdeen on the day they were presented with the league trophy.

The entire Scottish season has been played behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. A spike in positive cases in Glasgow saw the Scottish government on Friday maintain restrictions on indoor mixing of households and hospitality that will be eased for the rest of mainland Scotland today. Fans ignored pleas from the club and government to disperse as they then marched from Ibrox into Glasgow city center. Riot police were drafted in to help disperse the crowds as scenes turned violent late on Saturday night.

In a statement, Police Scotland’s Divisional Commander for Greater Glasgow, Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, said: “As celebrations continued sections of the crowd became increasingly disorderly, property was damaged and people were assaulted. Our officers became the focus of the crowd’s attention with missiles and flares being thrown at them. So far, we know that three officers have been injured and more than 20 people have been arrested.”

Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said he will liaise with the football authorities to see what action can be taken. “This selfish and irresponsible behavior endangers the lives of others – supporters, the police on duty and the wider community,” Yousaf said in a statement posted to social media. “We have already discussed this with Rangers and will liaise with Police Scotland and the football authorities to consider what further action can be taken.”

The Scottish Government previously criticized Rangers’ response after thousands of fans gathered on the weekend they clinched the title in early March. On the field, the Rangers rounded off a near-flawless season. Aberdeen never threatened to spoil the party as Kemar Roofe scored twice after Joe Lewis’s early own goal. Former Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe completed the demolition in the final moments. Having ended Celtic’s bid for a 10th successive Scottish title, Rangers finished with 102 points after going unbeaten through the entire 38-game campaign.

Rangers’ 19th win from 19 league games at Ibrox this season saw them finish 25 points clear of second-placed Celtic. “It was about having a vision, getting the right people in the right places, the right support from the board and fighting for it,” said former Liverpool captain Gerrard. “I’m so proud of the boys and all the staff. We’ve fought every day for the last three years to get to this point.” – AFP

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