by Patrick McPartlin
The ripples from last Wednesday’s explosive Scottish Cup replay between Celtic and Rangers continue to spread, with former First Minister Henry McLeish requesting both teams to “put their house in order” on the eve of a summit at Holyrood. Representatives of both clubs, the Scottish football authorities and the police will be present at the summit.
Over 200 complaints were made to Strathclyde Police following the match, in addition to 187 reports of violent and anti-social crimes, and more than thirty arrests. Strathclyde Police Chief Constable, Stephen House, called for the summit following the aftermath of the bad-tempered clash.
In the days following the match, Celtic boss Neil Lennon was given 24-hour security protection and a personal security officer following the discovery of a hoax bomb addressed to him at a Royal Mail sorting office. It’s not the first time the former Celtic and Northern Ireland midfielder has been subject to this treatment: he retired from international football following similar threats. But these recent events have come about as a result of his altercation with troubled Rangers striker El-Hadji Diouf. A YouTube video allegedly shows the Celtic boss racially abusing the Senegalese international. Diouf has come out today in support of Lennon, essentially claiming that what happens within a game should stay in the game, and denying reports of racial abuse.
No stranger to controversy himself, Diouf was one of three Rangers players sent off during the tie, which has been one of the contributing factors to the organisation of this summit. Some of the topics expected to be discussed during this meeting include the possibility of playing Old Firm matches on alternative days, such as Monday nights, in a bid to limit drunken behaviour, and the introduction of police instructions to both teams regarding conduct prior to matches.
Strathclyde Police have refused to comment on the allegations made against Lennon, and would not say whether Diouf or the Celtic boss would be interviewed regarding the claims. One thing is clear however; that measures will have to be put in place to limit the possibility of a repeat of last Wednesday’s events in the future.