Fears voiced that Rangers' fans celebrations could hamper return of lower league football in Borders by triggering spike in Covid-19 cases

Fears have been voiced that mass celebrations by Rangers fans in Glasgow at the weekend could trigger a spike in coronavirus cases in the Borders, potentially threatening to dash hopes that lower league football seasons here could resume soon.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:46 pm
Rangers fans set off smoke bombs as they gather outside Glasgow's Ibrox Stadium to celebrate their team winning the Scottish Premiership title on March 7 (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Thousands of Rangers supporters from all over Scotland gathered outside their team’s Ibrox home ground and in the city’s George Square to celebrate their first Premiership title win for 10 years after Celtic failed to beat Dundee United yesterday, March 7, leaving them 20 points clear at the top.

Defying current Scottish Government guidance banning public gatherings and meetings of more than two people from different households from meeting outdoors and encouraging social distancing, fans from the Borders and further afield joined their Glaswegian peers to mark the occasion by chanting, waving flags and letting off flares, sparking widespread condemnation from politicians and others.

That show of defiance of coronavirus restrictions could also lead to football fans elsewhere losing out, fears Gala Fairydean Rovers chairman Ryan Cass.

Rangers fans gather at Glasgow's Ibrox Stadium to celebrate the club winning the Scottish Premiership for the first time in 10 years on March 7 (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

“It’s a genuine concern. There were hundreds of fans there who’d travelled from all over and they’ve then come back to the Borders or wherever, and that could lead to a rise in Covid cases here and that’s not going to help,” said the Galashiels club chief.

Any such upsurge in infections could hold up the current lockdown-easing process, he said, and that could mean that lower league football teams such as his run out of time to finish their current seasons, suspended since Monday, January 11.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her deputy, John Swinney, have also hit out at the fans involved and Rangers’ bosses over the celebrations.

"To see so many people deliberately flouting rules with no regard for the safety of others is shameful,” Swinney told the Scottish Government’s daily Covid-19 briefing today, March 8.

Rangers fans gather in Glasgow's George Square to celebrate the club winning the Scottish Premiership for the first time in 10 years on March 7 (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

“Events like yesterday risk spreading the virus and they show no regard or respect at all for the millions of households across Scotland who have been sticking to the rules, who haven't been able to meet up with friends and families to fully celebrate birthdays and other milestones or, in some cases, to attend funeral services of their loved ones.

“The government and Police Scotland reminded Rangers of the need for the club to advise fans to adhere to the current restrictions in discussions on February 26 and March 5. It is a matter of profound regret that that did not happen.

“The Scottish Government will be making our extreme disappointment at the lack of leadership clear to the team’s management.”