Three police officers were injured and more than 20 people arrested after crowds of Rangers fans gathered in Glasgow to celebrate the club’s league title win.
More than 10,000 supporters gathered outside the club’s stadium despite warnings about the rapid spread of the new Indian variant of coronavirus in the city.
The crowd, the majority not wearing masks, began arriving before their team’s match kicked off at 12.30pm.
When the squad arrived by coach the players gave the thumbs up, punched the air and applauded fans who sang, cheered and let off pyrotechnic flares and smoke bombs.
After the team lifted the Scottish Premiership trophy in an empty stadium following a 4-0 win over Aberdeen, supporters flanked by police walked from Ibrox to George Square in the city centre.
It was there that violence flared, with property damaged and people assaulted.
A senior police officer condemned the “disgraceful behaviour” and thanked the officers who helped bring the “violent and disorderly gathering to an end”.
Chief superintendent Mark Sutherland, Police Scotland’s divisional commander for Greater Glasgow, 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. Our policing response has been proportionate. We have responded appropriately and consistently to the behaviour of those gathered.
“I strongly condemn the behaviour of these supporters who have not only placed our officers at risk but have sought to damage the image and reputation of this great city, especially during this critical period of the pandemic.
“I would like to place on record my thanks to the police and partners who manged this incident, especially those officers who put themselves in danger to bring this violent and disorderly gathering to an end.
“So far we know that three officers have been injured and more than 20 people have been arrested.
“We will be continuing our enquiries and my message is clear that if you have been involved in these ugly scenes then we you will be identified and arrested.”
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “My full support to police officers who put in an incredible shift in very difficult circumstances. Absolutely disgraceful that they were subjected to the kind of thuggery we saw last night. Incidents of violence, disorder, anti-Catholic and any other hatred will be followed up.”
It comes as Scotland recorded an additional 413 new cases of coronavirus in the daily figures, including 133 in Glasgow, although the numbers were affected by a data issue that meant Friday’s reported figures were lower than they should have been.
No new deaths were reported in the latest statistics from the Scottish Government, while the test positivity rate stood at 1.6%.
Glasgow remains in level three of coronavirus restrictions, along with Moray, because the number of cases per 100,000 in both areas is above 50, a key benchmark for deciding the appropriate tier of restrictions.
The Glasgow cases are concentrated mainly in the south of the city, not far from Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium, and are being driven by the Indian variant, which is believed to be 50% more transmissible.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had said people should not travel in or out of Glasgow and Moray for the coming week. However, many Rangers fans arrived from outside the city.
Police Scotland and Justice Minister Humza Yousaf had called on Rangers fans to disperse and take personal responsibility before yesterday’s match.
Yousaf said: “While there is a significant police presence at Ibrox and across [the] city, this is ultimately about personal responsibility. If you have gathered you should disperse, particularly given yesterday’s announcement about Covid in Glasgow.”
However, a huge crowd gathered at the Copland Road end of the Rangers ground, with dozens of fans scaling the gates at the south-east corner of the stadium.
Johanna Turnbull, 37, and son Ethan, 12, travelled to the stadium with friend Lesley Ann Lawrie, 38, and her son Konnor, 12, from their home town of Alloa.
Johanna said: “We came in by train and the atmosphere here is absolutely unbelievable. We are thinking about Covid but we are wearing our masks and we wouldn’t miss this for anything.”
Darren Hastie, 26, of Easterhouse, Glasgow, said: “This is a great day for all the fans and we wanted to be here. Of course we are concerned about Covid but there is always a risk in life. We wanted to see this party.”
Many thousands of fans marched towards the city centre along Paisley Road West after the game, eventually making their way over the Tradeston footbridge where they were joined by thousands more who had walked in via the Broomielaw. A minimal police presence was observed along the routes.
— Chris McLaughlin (@BBCchrismclaug) May 15, 2021
By 4pm, huge numbers were in George Square with further fireworks let off as a police helicopter buzzed overhead.
On Friday night, scores of Rangers fans lit red flares simultaneously along the Clyde close to the Clyde Arc, known as the “squinty bridge”.
The Scottish Government previously criticised Rangers’ response after thousands of fans gathered outside Ibrox and in George Square on the weekend they clinched the title in early March.
After the match, Rangers tweeted “We are the champions” and repeated an earlier call for fans to celebrate “in a safe and sensible manner” and disperse from Ibrox.
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