Another disaster beckons unless Scottish football makes a stand
Much has been said about the Scottish Government looking to introduce Strict Liability after the past few seasons have seen a rise in misconduct across Scottish Football.
But events at Rugby Park on Sunday, must be the final straw for the football clubs and authorities alike with the safety of supporters now at major risk from mindless thugs and neanderthals.
British football has seen a number of high profile disasters over the years including Hillsborough, Heysel, Bradford City and Ibrox disasters - which no one wants to see ever again - thankfully no one was seriously hurt on Sunday but it was more luck than anything else.
It is now becoming apparent that talk of a crush outside Rugby Park at the away end was nothing more than a smokescreen to hide the fact that hundreds of fans turned up with fake tickets and tried to gain entry - in clear violation of stadium regulations and threatened the safety of their fellow Rangers fans who had tickets.
A security gate was forced open after security staff were physically assaulted and with limited police resources in place - several Mounted Police officers just stood by watching the scenes unfold - hundreds of fans rushed into the away end.
Footage posted on social media - proves this version of events - while, footage of the game clearly shows Rangers fans blocking the staircases and entrances to the terracing in clear violation of health & safety and stadium regulations - put in place following disasters such as Ibrox and Hillsborough.
We then also witnessed ANOTHER pitch invasion from the Rangers support to celebrate a late goal against Kilmarnock in what was the first league game of the season. We have seen this very scene numerous times last season and yet there is no condemnation from the Ibrox side, no increase in police and security around the pitch, and no punishments from the SPFL or the Scottish FA.
Unless all parties act now, we could very well see fans go to a game and never return home thanks to the incompetence and total disregard for safety from their fellow supporters.
In fact, we are just three years away from the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Ibrox disaster, which claimed the lives of 66 innocent men, women and children. Do we really want to see the likes again?
As a support, Rangers fans should look at such behaviour on Sunday with disdain and anger. They shouldn’t be defending it, they shouldn’t be deflecting away from it but they are.
They are blaming the Police, they are blaming Kilmarnock and they are blaming the Health & Safety inspector for approving Rugby Park’s licence. Once again they refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. Nothing new there.
And then we have the destruction of the roof housing the disabled section of the away end. The most vulnerable of the support were subjected to what can only be described as a horrifying moment and one that could have caused serious injuries - but thankfully sheer luck prevented serious injury to innocent Rangers fans with various disabilities merely wanting to watch, support and cheer on their team to victory.
A number of Rangers fans were caught on camera climbing on top of the roof celebrating Conor Goldson’s late winner. One fan was followed by numerous others and seconds later the roof collapsed on the disabled fans below as those on top crashed through on top of them also.
As I mentioned it was sheer luck that no one was seriously injured, but this must surely be the final straw. The authorities should not wait for Celtic fans to slip up before taking action. They shouldn’t look to even up the score before taking action. They must act now or we will be faced with another disaster - this time due to the misconduct of some of the gutter filth that plague our game.
The Rangers fans have already pissed all over the club’s latest box ticking initiative by belting out their sectarian song book, and the Ibrox club themselves have put out a weak ass statement ahead of what will inevitably be a statement from Club 1872 blaming Kilmarnock, security and police officers rather than pointing the finger of blame at the real culprits - their fellow supporters.
Warnings must not be ignored as they were by the Ibrox hierarchy in the run up to the 1972 Disaster. 11 years before the horrific scenes at Ibrox, we saw 70 fans injured and two dead in 1961 on Staircase 13 - and in 1967 another 11 fans were injured on the same staircase. And 29 fans were injured two years later - and still no work was done to prevent further injuries or loss of life - resulting in the deaths of 66 Rangers fans in 1972.
Stadium are much now safer places since those days, but now we have to contend with halfwits, thugs and neanderthals among us more interested in getting a selfie than actually celebrating with their mates in the stand where they belong and should remain.
So if bandwagon jumped politicians like Adam Tomkins and James Dornan are serious about safety in Scottish football - they should ditch the party politics and come together to protect the safety of all supporters rather than trying to use incidents to attack one another over.
The next league away from home for Rangers is a trip to Paisley to face St.Mirren and if the appropriate actions and level of stewarding and policing is not put into place for this game, then we will almost certainly see the fans invading the pitch again.
Time for those within the hierarchy of our clubs, within our governing bodies, police force and the political parties to come together and turn their words into actions to ensure the safety of all fans before it is too late.
And for those Rangers fans thinking that they can do what they like, maybe you should hear out your club’s own disability fans chief after yesterday’s scenes.
Rangers Disabled Supporters Club chairman Billy Paterson, who was underneath the shelter, said: “I was inside and underneath when it was going on. It was extremely fortunate that no-one got seriously injured. There was a young 16-year old severely disabled boy in there.
“I got hit in the shoulder by the roof. It grazed me. A few inches away and it would have hit my head. It was the same with the others.
“If the roof had landed on our heads someone could have broken their neck. Those fans are completely ignorant.
“It is sheer ignorance by those who did this, but the fault here is the lack of stewarding that lets them do that game after game.
“You can’t behave like that at a football match on top of a shelter for disabled fans. Common decency tells you that.
“They should show a bit of respect. We are only there to watch the football the same as everybody else. It is extremely fortunate that nobody was seriously injured. It is pure luck.”