THE independent report, which was commissioned by Celtic FC after the crush at Celtic Park ahead of the Glasgow Derby last September, is out today, just a few days before the repeat fixture takes place this Sunday.
After the outcry from supporters after the match on 2 September, which Celtic won 1-0, the club commissioned Fairhurst to conduct a full and independent review of the circumstances that caused the crushing incident in the Janefield Street underpass below the North Stand at Celtic Park in the half hour or so before the match kicked off.
This was the first match at Celtic Park where the number of away fans had been reduced from around 8000 to just 800 and obviously that meant that there were approximately 7000 extra Celtic supporters at this game, that would have previously been the case.
While Fairhurst conclude that a number of factors were to blame, they do state that a key factor was the segregation put in place by Police Scotland near London Road to keep home away and fans apart was a significant contributory factor.
This meant that with more home supporters than usual at a Glasgow Derby at the game, the segregation plan put in place by Police Scotland, meant that a large number of supporters were forced to use the Janefield Street underpass to the North Stand and this resulted in the crush as kick-off time approached.
Segregation put in place by police near London Road to keep home away and fans apart was identified as a significant contributory factor.
The decision to schedule the game for early on a Sunday when public transport was reduced was also highlighted in the report.
Some elements of the response to the unfolding incident were also criticised, however the actions of Celtic supporters throughout was praised.
Fairhurst also state they received feedback from fans criticising the behaviour and attitude of some police and stewards.
The review was conducted through multiple agencies including Celtic, Police Scotland, the ambulance service and supporters.
Speaking about the review, Celtic said: “The safety and welfare of supporters visiting Celtic Park will always be our priority and it was therefore essential that a comprehensive and independent review was undertaken. We would like to thank Fairhurst for their rigorous work and to thank our supporters and the wide range of agencies who have contributed to the review.
“We regret the events which took place and we will continue to work with Fairhurst in connection with their recommendations, building on our existing good practices, to ensure that Celtic Park continues to be a safe place to visit.”
The new arrangements for the visiting supporters this weekend will make a repeat incident much more unlikely.
These changes, which were exclusively revealed on The Celtic Star, angered the away support the Rangers fans reckoned that they’re going to be treated like ANIMALS!
The September fixture was the first one against the new club with the reduced allocation of around 800 away supporters. Yet Police Scotland, with or without the consent of Celtic FC, appeared to treat that game as if the Rangers had their full allocation.
That meant access around the stadium at the away end corner was denied to ALL Celtic supporters. No account seemed to have been taken to the fact that with over 7000 fewer away fans meant over 7000 MORE Celtic supporters would be at the game.
Whoever had the bright idea to channel them all through the narrow tunnel behind the North Stand could have ended up with a blood on their hands and another disaster.
Indeed, and having been in the crush that developed in the half hour before the match kicked-off, it was only as a result of the calmness and patience of the Celtic support – without any Police assistance whatsoever – that a major incident was prevented.
Celtic commissioned the independent enquiry that reported today and is discussed above.
However the new arrangements have left the Rangers supporters (who insisted on the reduction of the away support at Ibrox to start all of this off – are now extremely unhappy.
The Rangers Ticket Centre issued details of the new arrangements in a memo titled Important Supporter Communication:
Rangers Football Club has been instructed to include the following information from the Head of Safety, Security and Operations at Celtic FC with each ticket.
It is essential that fans who will receive a ticket for the match are aware of the following information. In the interest of safety we will require Rangers Fans to be in the Stadium no later than 11:00 hours.
Fans are requested to gather at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome around 10.30 Hours at which point they will receive an escort across to Turnstiles 66 and 67. We estimate the loading process will take around half an hour and after this point the Stadium footprint will be open for general access. Rangers fans arriving after 11.00 Hours will be held away from the stadium until after the match has kicked off.
This decision has been taken in the interest of safety and Police Scotland supports the position taken.
Rangers Football Club
Some of the comments from the Rangers fans are worth noting…
“Only got ourselves to blame.”
“It also says Police Scotland support the position taken, who made the decision then Rangers?”
“It’s a joke, expecting us to turn up 2 hours before the kick-off, again Rangers just going with it and accepting it, shambles.”
“F*ck them, everybody leave from Bridgeton Cross with the boys from Bridgeton right up London Road.”
“Grow a set of balls, Rangers FFS…safety…this tells me the Celtic fans are not to be trusted. Tell them to ram their tickets up their arses.”
“Half ten is a shambles.”
“And the club just rolled over and let this happen, surely 800 fans going in is less of a security risk than 8000?’
“Disgusting.’Loaded’ since when were we animals?” – no laughing at the back!
“Why can’t they put up the security fencing we put up for them and the sheep?”
“So because their ground is a dump and they can’t get fans in and out safely, we get disadvantaged. Football for the fans right enough.”
So it looks like the access areas denied to Celtic supporters for the September match which Celtic won 1-0 will be open to the home support from 11am – that’s an hour before kick-off. And by then the Rangers supporters will be LOADED (like animals) into their corner or failing that will be held well away from the stadium until after the match has kicked off before being escorted to the away turnstiles.
Presumably they will be kept back after the game too until the Celtic fans have left the ground. If there’s another Celtic victory that means that they’ll have to ensure all the celebrations, this singing long to Beautiful Sunday Broony and the Bhoys and the customary over celebrating that so infuriated them the last time.
So it looks like being a very long day for the Rangers supporters. These arrangements are as a direct result of their own lobbying to have the Celtic support removed from the Free Broomloan stand after they couldn’t handle our celebrations any longer.
You reap what you sow, you reap what you sow.