Sunday’s Old Firm derby to go ahead after call-off warningon March 19, 2021 at 1:41 pm

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The league match at Celtic Park was at risk of postponement after Rangers fans breached Covid lockdown rules.

Sunday’s Old Firm derby will go ahead, the justice secretary has confirmed.

The fixture at Celtic Park was at risk after Rangers fans breached lockdown to celebrate their team’s title win.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the scenes as “disgraceful” and police said there had been a “lack of support” from the club.

Rangers and Celtic have since repeatedly urged their supporters to stay away from Sunday’s game.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said the decision to allow the game to go ahead followed “extensive engagement” with the clubs, the SPFL, Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council.

He said: “Police Scotland have confirmed there will be a significant police presence in the area and any disorder or gathering of fans will be dealt with.

“I urge the fans to listen to the messages from their clubs, the police and government to stay at home.

“I also encourage Celtic and Rangers – and all other clubs in Scotland – to continue to encourage their supporters to stay home during games until they are permitted to return.”

Rangers fans at Ibrox on Sunday

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Police containing crowd at George Square

image copyrightGetty Images

Police Scotland warned that officers will make arrests if there are any mass gatherings after the match, which is due to kick off at noon.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said the clubs had acted “really, really responsibly” to convey the “stay at home” message to fans, and he urged supporters to follow this advice.

Mr Higgins said: “Detailed plans are in place for an extensive and proportionate policing response to this weekend’s match at Celtic Park.

“Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to encourage people to do the right thing to avoid the spread of the disease.

“However, where officers encounter blatant breaches of the legislation they will not hesitate to enforce the law where necessary to ensure public safety.”

Officers made 28 arrests following the mass gatherings outside Ibrox and in Glasgow’s George Square.

The also handed out fixed penalty notices for offences including assaulting police officers, sectarian-related breaches of the peace, breaking Covid rules and the use of pyrotechnics.

Under current Scottish government coronavirus guidance, public gatherings are banned.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith warned there was a “real risk” the celebrations would lead to a spike in Covid infections.

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