Celtic’s Yellow Card then the “We Commend Rangers” Statement – Contacting Nicola Sturgeon and her Government’s reply

Trying to get an answer from the Scottish Government regarding their different treatment towards both Celtic and Aberdeen regarding players’ Covid restriction breach of protocols throughout this season has not been easy. That didn’t stop The Celtic Star trying…

A quick re-cap. Various Aberdeen players were photographed out in city centre bars after their opening day defeat to theRangers at Pittodrie. Meanwhile shortly after that Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli headed over to Spain for a sleep-over after Celtic opening day victory over Hamilton. He arrived back, was on the bench for the game at Kilmarnock and came on in the closing stages.

Photo: Jeff Holmes

Nicola Sturgeon’s anger was apparent and both Celtic and Aberdeen were told by the First Minister that they would not be playing for their next two games – something that put Celtic on the back foot in the league from pretty much the early stages – and Scottish football was also issued with a yellow card by Nicola Sturgeon, who pointed out she as using language that football would understand and that we all know what comes after a yellow.

When at the end of last year two players from theRangers Jordan Jones and George Edmundson were issued with Fixed Penalty Notices from Police Scotland for being caught breaching the lockdown rules by attending a house party – believed to be a birthday party for a teammate who appeared not to be there – a Scottish Government spokesperson released a statement COMMENDING theRangers for taking swift action agains their two Covidiots.

There was no mention of this latest breach by Scottish Premiership players – unlike on the earlier occasions involving Aberdeen and Celtic players and there was therefore no further threats of yellow or red cards being issued.

Then there was the second breach from theRangers squad, this time involving FIVE players – Nathan Patterson, Bongani Zungu, Calvin Bassey, Dapo Mebude and Brian Kinnear – and the SFA Tribunal into their breaches of the Covid rules was heard yesterday, with a decision expected on Monday. Remarkably these players have been allowed to continue to play – Patterson has actually played in Europa League matches and came on as a substitute at Celtic Park on Sunday.

Photo by Stuart Wallace

I contacted both my MP and MSP about this with the former, Alyn Smith MP, directing the matter to Bruce Crawford (SNP) MSP for Stirling constituency. Bruce, who is a football man and is a passionate Dunfermline Athletic supporter, understood the point I was making regarding the inconsistencies and promised to raise the matter with the relevant  Minister. Nothing happened though so after another round of chasing up he agreed to write directly to Nicola Sturgeon on my behalf.

Now over the past few weeks I recognise that Nicola Sturgeon has had plenty of more pressing matters to deal with and it has to be noted that she handled these issues that threatened her position as First Minister very well indeed. She has been an outstanding First Minister, has handled the Covid crisis as well as anyone could expect and the SNP will retain the support of many of those reading this – including myself.

That however does not mean that the way the football breaches this season were handled can be regarded as fair, even handed or reasonable. And her party is hardly likely to find much favour with the Unionist leaning supporters of theRangers. But as First Minister party political matters have to be secondary during a time of national crisis. But fairness is essential otherwise people are left disappointed, frustrated and even angry.

Here is the letter that Bruce Crawford MSP sent to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on my behalf and the reply he received from the Scottish Government yesterday. Make of it what you will. The matter incidentally will be revisited after the Election which presumably she will win…

Ms Nicola Sturgeon MSP
First Minister
Scottish Government
St. Andrews House
Regent Road

22 February 2021

Dear First Minister,

Rangers Football Club

I am writing to you on behalf of a constituent who recently contacted me in relation to the above.

My constituent tells me that five players employed by Rangers Football Club were recently discovered by Police Scotland attending a social gathering in violation of the Scottish Government’s public health regulations.

My constituent’s view is that there is an inconsistency in the approach being taken regarding this incident, and the one that was taken following breaches by players of Celtic and Aberdeen in August of last year.

My constituent therefore asks why Celtic’s game was postponed and the club issued with a yellow card for their breach of the coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, while Rangers appear to have committed two such breaches and have not had similar action taken against them, but rather had a statement from the Scottish Government commending their actions after the first breach.

Given the above, I would be grateful for your consideration of my constituent’s views and for any comment you are able to provide in relation to the points that he has raised.

I thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your response. Kind regards,

Bruce Crawford (SNP)
MSP for Stirling constituency

THE RESPONSE arrived yesterday and came from Scottish Government DIRECTORATE FOR SAFER COMMUNITIES, DSF: Police Division…

25 March 2021

Dear Bruce Crawford MSP,

Thank you for your email of 22 February to the First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon MSP, regarding football players reportedly breaching the Coronavirus Regulations. As we are now in a preelection
period, I am responding on her behalf.

Enforcement of the Regulations is a matter for the Chief Constable of Police Scotland. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 stipulates that the Chief Constable is responsible for the policing of
Scotland, and is accountable to the Scottish Police Authority for this, rather than to Scottish Ministers directly. These arrangements are in place to ensure public confidence that the police act independently, free from unwarranted Ministerial interference. Therefore, the Scottish Government cannot comment on the police handling of the case that you mention or the action taken by police officers in responding to this specific incident.

Police Scotland have been clear that they will continue to operate under the principle of policing by consent and follow the 4Es approach whereby they will Engage, Explain, Encourage and only then, if faced with wilful and blatant non-compliance, Enforce the coronavirus regulations – by for example issuing a Fixed Penalty Notice -as a last resort to protect public health.

From the outset of the pandemic, the Scottish Government has worked in partnership with the football authorities and clubs to ensure that the appropriate public health measures are in place. The Scottish Football Association is responsible for breach investigations, and the associated relevant sanctions.

The Scottish Government has highlighted on a number of occasions the obligations and restrictions on clubs.

It is vital that everyone, both in professional sport and across the wider population, understands the need to strictly follow all protocols and guidance to stop the spread of the virus and keep the country safe.

I hope your constituent finds this response helpful.

Yours sincerely

Ryan Paterson
POLICE : Powers and Workforce Unit

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk


  1. Peter Williamson on

    Are people that stupid as not to think Dictator Sturgeon is a secret The Rangers supporter. It is obvious (in my opinion) by the way the teams have been treated this past year. The Government, the SFA and Police are all run by the Masons and what they say goes. It is time for both Celtic management and supporters to stand up and say enough is enough and vote all these biased individuals out of office and get rid of suspected corruption once and for all.

    • Peter i agree with you but all celtic should boycott next season and just go to our home games as for our board they’re full of cowards.

  2. You wouldn’t have got a response from Sturgeon regardless of election period or not, I contacted through Keith Brown and exhausted the escalation route attempting to get a straight answer, all you get is nothing to do with Scottish Government it’s for the football authorities to act. They refused to respond to direct questions which I stated I wanted answered directly and just kept putting it back on football authorities. They would not answer why the public criticisms were repeatedly made against Celtic & Aberdeen and basically a demand to postpone the games but no such action over the multiple breaches at Sevco.

  3. That reply is shocking, one rule for 1 and another rule for everyone else. This has been deflected from the Government to the Police, we all have seen the Police being invisible when it comes to Rangers fans over the last few weeks.

    The same tactic from the Government as the Police , hit Celtic and their fans hard and tip to with the Rangers fans.In my opinion this could have had an effect on a Celtic fan being murdered as these fans just expect to get away with anything, as long as you wear a union jack flag.
    It is time for the Government to pass a bill to make Sectarianism = Racism and to act on it.I wont hold my breath waiting.

  4. Malcolm McKinlay on

    The first minister of Scotland signed off the trip to Dubia and they drew the daggers on the return of Celtic,I wonder what the reasons for that were ???

    • George Janczak on

      Nicolla trys to appear unbiased not to alienate unionists however in doing so she comes down harder on Celtic and many SNP followers.

      The response above was a joke unfortunately as she has dodged the question and passed the buck to the police.

      The police were not the subject of the question it was the Scottish Parliments conduct ams unbalanced actioning Public comments that were being questioned.

      Very disappointing response to a valid request for fairness.

      The quicker the term old firm is disolved the better as Celtic is not half of anything. However Celtic and The Rangers are polar opposite.

      Celtic fans do not murder people in the street unlike fans of the rangers who have a record of killers.

  5. I can’t stand that wee Kranky another hitler, and for the SPFL making sure Christie wasn’t to play in the first o.. f… game because of Covid reasons was shocking the rangers had everything going for them SPFL, SFA, SNP, POLICE SCOTLAND AND REFEREES I won’t be voting for Sturgeon they’re a corrupt government .Theres a true saying “ANYONE BUT CELTIC”

  6. Hailing from North Ayrshire, it’s not too far fetched to believe that Ms Sturgeon and her family have leanings towards the club that plays out of Ibrox. Indeed her reluctance to criticise the club and their fans (the majority of whom are unlikely to vote for her party) speaks volumes. Unfortunately her party is the only vehicle that allows Scotland hope of breaking away from the union and she is well aware that those of us who want and independent Scotland have no alternative that to vote for her party.
    The disdain and contempt with which her and her party treat Celtic and their support is disgraceful but she knows that there is no anti unionist alternative.

    • You have my vote, also support your team but let the body they employ (spfl) know that Scotland will not be supported until ffp is introduced.
      Will always pay tax and NI
      no matter who shouts loudest.

  7. It’s Scotland! It’s not to do with even-handedness. It’s to do with how you shake hands and with whom.
    Look no further than it being about Masonic Bs.

  8. Celtic supporters, please be careful for what you vote for. This Government criminalised football supporters (Ms Sturgeon voted AGAINST the Act’s repeal). They are well versed in obfuscation, as per Ms Sturgeon’s testimony at the recent enquiry. Their statements and non-action over recent weeks have been disingenuous and disgraceful. Policing has been replaced by ignoring the law, whenever the situation is deemed ‘awkward’. How long before they lock up the swings? Vote Communist.

  9. kevin mccarthy on

    She won’t get my vote,The SNP where a break away from the Scottish Tory party and are still run by the masonic lodge If you wan’t to vote tort why hide behind snp

  10. Jim O'Rourke on

    This fight should have been taken up by both Celtic, Aberdeen and all the other clubs who have been punished by players or staff breaking covid laws not left to fans. We have accepted shocking treatment from sfa, Scottish league and now by the Scottish government for too long.

  11. As much as it pains me to say, I have lost all respect and confidence in both NS & the SNP during the last 12-14 months! I was a member for years, done leaflet drops back in the day and always championed them as the correct vehicle for independence, however, all they are is another pig in the trough, political leech! Ignoring independent scientists, literally 000’s of Drs and basic common sense during this health crisis has seen them adopt the CCP course of action based on a flawed paper by a discredited government scientist in Germany, who is being sued by the same lawyer who successfully sued Deutsche Bank & Volkswagen btw, allowing and amplification technique to be used as a diagnostic tool is an outrageous misuse of power and Governments around the world, including here in Aus and at home with NS will hopefully be exposed and held accountable!
    The double standards regarding us and them is merely SOP, we have always been second class citizens to the powers that shouldn’t be and as long as we sit at the back of the bus this will continue. A new form of governance is ideal but at the very least a new political party, aligned to the common man not the wealthy & predatory classes is essential, the system is broken & that mealy mouthed sorry excuse of a reply is indicative of the way Governments see the masses, pay lip service at best but generally there for their benefit and aggrandisement