“We acknowledge that a tiny minority of Rangers fans also encroached on the pitch but only after having been faced with prolonged and severe provocation and in order to protect our players and officials who were being visibly attacked in front of them. Any club’s supporters would have done the same. This distressing and deeply disturbing episode would never have happened had Hibs fans behaved properly but as they swarmed across the pitch it became immediately obvious that the security procedures were inadequate and had failed.”
This powerful and assertive paragraph from the Rangers club statement following the Scottish Cup Final now, alas, seems a world away. It appears Rangers have forgotten the mitigating circumstances they themselves cited, as several weeks on the same supporters the club defended in statement have now been subjected to an entirely different treatment courtesy of our club.
The letter below was sent out to one of our fans arrested in connection with the aftermath of the Scottish cup Final. As you can see it is in 2 parts – a kind of double whammy. The first part imposes an indefinite ban from attending both home and away matches as a consequence of being arrested at the Cup Final and thus bringing the name of the club into disrepute.
The 2nd part is dependent on the recipient of the letter being a season ticket holder (which he was) and thus his season ticket has now been forfeited, without compensation, for the alleged criminal conduct which gave rise to the arrest in Part 1.
There is nothing anywhere in the letter which offers any kind of caveat in relation to the pending court case, no suggestion that such action will be reviewed or reversed in the event of him being found not guilty or not proven at any future trial. Whatever happened to the “prolonged and severe provocation and in order to protect our players and officials who were being visibly attacked in front of them.”?
No-one is asking the club to defend the indefensible but is it really too much to allow due legal process to take its natural course? Could the club not have included the caveat in those letters that such decisions taken by the club would be subject to review in the light of the subsequent court hearings? Have the club considered how prejudicial to forthcoming legal proceedings such action may prove to be?
The particular irony in all of this is that the information which allowed Rangers to identify those charged with offences at Hampden most probably came from a football intelligence unit of Police Scotland. The same Police Scotland, some of whose members created a fictional, false and erroneous account of Rangers fans making barricades to prevent Police responding to the Hampden pitch invasion.
Actions speak louder than words, and the actions from our club in relation to the fans they once sought to defend by word, offer little to support the initial response to that post cup final statement – that as club, from the boardroom to the stands we are all in this fight together.