Scottish Police Are Seriously Overreacting To A Sunday League Match

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

Glasgow’s Old Firm rivalry is world-renowned for its ferocity. Matches between Celtic and Rangers have boiled over into violence and sectarianism many times. You know what haven’t? Games between Blantyre Rangers and Blantyre Celtic.

Blantyre is a small town of under 20,000 in South Lanarkshire,  most famous as the site of a 19th century mining disaster and being the home of the drummer from Mogwai.

But police are insistant that a North & South Lanarkshire Football Association Division Two match between two clubs bearing the names of the Old Firm must be played behind closed doors.

According to the Blantyre Rangers club secretary:

Both clubs ­regularly play in front of family and friends – 50 to 60 people.

The police insisted on a meeting with us. A chief inspector and an inspector warned us about potential problems and asked how we intended to segregate the crowd.

We said there would be no need since the players and supporters of each club know each other and are friends. But that cut no ice at all. It’s crazy.

The police pointed out the hassle surrounding the real Old Firm last season and the ‘ongoing problems’ at Rangers, which we are struggling to connect to a football match in Blantyre.

We know the Blantyre Celtic boys, they know us, we work and socialise together.

Blantyre is by no means perfect but the people here are quite grown up and we are talking about two tiny clubs.

When the police started talking about segregation of fans, we all shook our heads in dismay, because both clubs are about bringing the community together, not keeping it apart.

Because amateur games  are what Scottish football needs to worry about right now.

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