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Sturgeon condemns 'disgraceful' Rangers fans who 'rampaged' through Glasgow to celebrate title win

Nicola Sturgeon today condemned Rangers fans who 'rampaged' through central Glasgow last night to wildly celebrate their unbeaten season as 'disgraceful' after five police officers were injured and 28 people were arrested.  

Riot police were sent into George Square on Saturday as punch-ups broke out among the supporters following their 4-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon, which saw them claim their 55th Scottish top-flight title.

Around 15,000 fans ignored lockdown rules and marched to the city centre from Ibrox stadium to clamber onto statutes and monuments and let off flares and smoke bombs, despite concerns that a virulent Indian Covid strain is driving up cases.

After supporters celebrated in the square for hours on Saturday - singing, dancing and setting off fireworks - police said some fans became unruly, with property damaged, people assaulted and missiles and flares being thrown at officers.

Vicious infighting broke out, with some fans sent tumbling to the ground by punches and others mercilessly kicked around the head as they lay in the street.  

Police were forced to respond to the 'rising disorder' and formed a line and cleared the group from the area just after 9pm, with Police Scotland describing the fans' behaviour as disgraceful. 

Ms Sturgeon condemned the Rangers fans as 'disgraceful' and 'selfish beyond belief' for breaching the Covid rules, adding that she was 'utterly disgusted' by their rampage of the city.

It comes after Scotland's First Minister announced that Glasgow was to remain in 'Level 3' next week as the rest of the country moves into 'Level 2'. 

Positive cases in the Glasgow area rose up to 3.5 per cent on Friday, with research suggesting the Indian strain of the virus is contributing to these spike in cases.

UK Government scientists revealed on Friday that the variant could 'realistically' be 50 per cent more infectious than the Kent strain - which models project could lead to 1,000 deaths a day, as well as 10,000 daily hospitalisations by the summer.  

Fans clamber onto the statue of Prince Albert in George Square, holding flares and Union Jacks aloft as their celebrate their league title win in Glasgow on Saturday

A man is restrained by police officers in George Square on Saturday as riot police were deployed to disperse crowds 

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square

Rangers fan celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership title at George Square on May 15 as they were condemned by the Scottish National Party

Three police officers have been injured and 20 people arrested after Rangers fans ignored lockdown rules

Orange smoke is released as Rangers fans celebrate their league title victory in Glasgow on Saturday 

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square, Glasgow, after their match against Aberdeen. Thousands marched to the city centre from Ibrox stadium to clamber onto statues and monuments and let off flares and smoke bombs.

The SNP called them 'selfish and irresponsible' for breaching the Covid rules, a day after Nicola Sturgeon announced the Glasgow was to remain in 'Level 3' next week as the rest of the country moves into 'Level 2.'

Smoke fills the air in George Square during rowdy celebrations of the league victory

Mounted police watch on as Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square, Glasgow, after their match against Aberdeen

Union Jacks fly as the Rangers fans celebrate their 55th Scottish league title in Glasgow on Saturday

Union Jacks and Ulster flags fly in a smoke-filled George Square on Saturday during celebrations

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square, Glasgow

A Rangers fan celebrates winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square

Nicola Sturgeon condemned the Rangers fans as 'disgraceful' and 'selfish beyond belief' for breaching the Covid rules, adding that she was 'utterly disgusted' by their rampage of the city

Ms Sturgeon condemned the violent Rangers fans in a string of tweets today, describing them as a 'thuggish minority who seem to care little for the risks they pose to other people'.

'I'm understandably inundated with messages about yesterday's disgraceful scenes in Glasgow,' she tweeted. 'Police still have a job to do, which restrains my comments to some extent - but to say I'm utterly disgusted by the Rangers fans who rampaged through the city would be an understatement.

'I'm also angry on behalf of every law abiding citizen. In normal times, the violence & vandalism, & the vile anti Catholic prejudice that was on display, would have been utterly unacceptable. But mid-pandemic, in a city with cases on the rise, it was also selfish beyond belief.

Ms Sturgeon added: 'People across the country still living under the most difficult restrictions - not able to see family or attend weddings and funerals - are rightly furious at the irresponsible actions of a thuggish minority who seem to care little for the risks they pose to other people.

'Understandably people ask questions about if/how government and police can do more to prevent/tackle scenes like these, and there is a need to reflect. That said, Police Scotland officers have my admiration & thanks for the job they did in difficult and dangerous circumstances.

'I hope Rangers FC will also reflect on what more must be done to tackle this behaviour by fans, albeit a minority. However, ultimate responsibility lies with those who behaved in such a thuggish, sectarian and selfish manner. And that's why we must let the police do their job.'

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf last night branded the Rangers fans 'selfish and irresponsible,' saying that they put lives at risk. 

Riot police were sent into break up the ruckus at around 9pm and successfully cleared fans from the area amid rising concerns for public safety. 

'Our officers became the focus of the crowd's attention with missiles and flares being thrown at them,' chief superintendent Mark Sutherland, Police Scotland's Divisional Commander for Greater Glasgow, said in a statement. 

A large crowd of Rangers fans gathered to celebrate their win in George Square, Glasgow, on May 15 despite lockdown rules

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square

Fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership title at George Square on May 15,

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership title at George Square

Rangers have won their first Scottish Premiership title in a decade with former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard at the helm

Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership title at George Square

Rangers fans gathered in their thousands to celebrate their side receiving the Scottish Premier League trophy on Saturda

'Our policing response has been proportionate. We have responded appropriately and consistently to the behaviour of those gathered,' chief superintendent Sutherland added.

'This disgraceful behaviour which clearly endangered public and officer safety could not be tolerated and officers dressed in full public order equipment and, after appropriate warnings were given, moved in to disperse those present.

'Although most of those present dispersed, a number remained and confronted officers with violence and aggression. Missiles were thrown and officers came under direct attack as George Square and the surrounding area was cleared.

'I strongly condemn the behaviour of these supporters who have not only placed our officers at risk but have sought to damage the image and reputation of this great city, especially during this critical period of the pandemic.'    

In an earlier statement on Saturday, chief superintendent Sutherland said: 'Due to the rising level of disorder taking place, and the threat to public safety, in George Square in Glasgow this evening, Saturday, 15 May 2021, Police Scotland will make use of powers available to officers under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 to disperse those who have chosen to gather there.

'This decision has not been taken lightly, the senior police officer on the ground will give direct instructions to those gathered and anyone in George Square should leave immediately.'

Earlier on Saturday, Steven Gerrard's side defeated Aberdeen 4-0 at Ibrox before collecting the Scottish Premiership silverware.

Fans had been warned against gathering to celebrate due to rising Covid-19 cases in Glasgow.

However, supporters outside Ibrox were cheering and chanting as the Rangers players arrived for the 12.30pm kick-off.

Police Scotland had called on them to 'disperse and take personal responsibility'. 

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said 15,000 people chose to ignore their pleas, and took the 'selfish decision' to gather at Ibrox and then George Square.

'The gathering was initially peaceful and throughout the day Police Scotland managed the crowd appropriately, tackling anti-social behaviour and encouraging dispersal under Scottish Government Coronavirus regulations,' Mr Ritchie said.   

'However, later the crowd in the square became aggressive and violent, fighting with each other, as the effects of alcohol took hold.

'At this point, public order officers moved in to break up the crowd and make them disperse. They began to throw missiles at us and five officers were injured, which is unacceptable. No one should expect to be assaulted when they go to their work.

'Policing a situation like this requires balance and a proportionate response. The level of force we use is dictated by the actions of the crowd. Sending in public order officers too early, particularly when a crowd is largely peaceful, can have the opposite effect and actually trigger violence and disorder.

'I strongly condemn the behaviour of these supporters who not only placed our officers at risk but damaged the image and reputation of Glasgow, especially during this critical period of the pandemic.'

He added: 'So far 28 people have been arrested for a variety of offences but we will be continuing our enquiries and my message is clear that if you have been involved in these ugly scenes then you will be identified and arrested.'

Steven Gerrard's Rangers lifted the Scottish Premier League trophy on Saturday afternoon

The Gers fans gave their team a heroes' welcome when they arrived on the team bus

The move comes a day after Nicola Sturgeon announced Glasgow would remain in Scotland's highest restrictions bracket due to concerns over the Indian coronavirus variant 

After the trophy was lifted, many fans made their way into the heart of Glasgow.

The Union Bears fan group had earlier announced plans to walk from the stadium to George Square.  

On Friday night, scores of Rangers fans lit red flares simultaneously along the River Clyde in the city as they marked the end of the season.

In an earlier statement on Saturday, chief superintendent Sutherland said: 'We understand the importance of football in Glasgow, how it connects our communities and, is for many, a culture and a way of life.

'We are, however, still in the midst of a pandemic and under coronavirus restrictions people should not be gathering for any reason.

'The overarching aim of Police Scotland's operation today remains public safety.

'Throughout the day we have seen crowds gather and anti-social behaviour including the use of pyrotechnics and drinking in public.

'Our officers are dealing with such offences where possible and have made arrests.'

He said a request for a fan procession to the city centre had been declined, but police later decided to escort large groups of supporters as they made their way to George Square in order to minimise disruption.

While some arrests were made in the afternoon for anti-social behaviour, chief supt Sutherland said due to the largely peaceful nature of the crowd at that time 'it would not be proportionate for our resources to use a high level of force through public order policing to disperse those gathering'. 

Rangers released a statement on Friday calling for fans to respect the lockdown rules in place

Fans let off flares before Rangers' clash with Aberdeen on the final day of the league season

The fans ignored calls from the club and the Scottish Government to stay away from Ibrox

Responding to the gatherings on Saturday, the Justice Secretary said: 'I understand the significance of this day for Rangers fans but I am extremely disappointed that supporters have once again ignored Covid regulations and chosen to gather in large numbers in Glasgow.'

Mr Yousaf added: 'This selfish and irresponsible behaviour endangers the lives of others - supporters, the police on duty and the wider community.

'I want to thank the police for incredibly difficult job they are doing keeping our communities safe throughout the pandemic.

'We have already discussed this with Rangers and will liaise with Police Scotland and the football authorities to consider what further action can be taken.'      

Before the Scottish First Minister's announcement on Glasgow's restriction rules, Rangers themselves published a statement on Thursday, calling for fans to respect the rules put in place. 

It read: 'It's a day to enjoy and to celebrate the achievements of our club, and the title win by Steven Gerrard and his team. However, we are cognisant that the battle against Covid-19 is far from over and that the virus is still live. It hasn't gone away. 

'Please celebrate this historic day for our club in a safe and sensible manner, respecting public safety - adhering to the current government guidelines and restrictions which are still in place.

'In particular, please be mindful of the government guidelines regarding gathering in large numbers. If possible, please celebrate within your own community.'     

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard was cheered by supporters when he arrived at Ibrox

Intense police presence was at Ibrox after Glasgow remained in the highest lockdown group

Rangers supporters, who are still not allowed inside stadiums due to coronavirus rules, let off flares and sang club chants when the side arrived in the stadium, with stewards in place to keep fans away from the team when they stepped off the bus. 

Manager Steven Gerrard was greeted by supporters after leading Rangers to their first league title since 2011 after perennial success by fierce Glasgow rivals Celtic over the past decade.

Earlier this week, the Rangers boss spoke about the bond between the players and the fans.

Gerrard told a press conference: 'The players have seen it with their own eyes, the support that the team have been given. 

'I think there's been a real understanding from the players and we've made it abundantly clear what the fans have had to do to support from afar this year. 

'The players are family men, a lot of them - they understand what the fans have gone through. The players want to share (Saturday) with the supporters, even though they can't be in the stadium, they want to raise that cup for them because they are the most important people here.'  

In winning the Scottish Premier League title, Rangers managed to stop arch-rivals Celtic from winning ten top-flight titles in a row, as well extending their all-time league record to 55, over the Bhoys' total of 51. 

The title was won by Gerrard's men on March 7 after Celtic drew 0-0 against Dundee United, with Rangers building up a 20-point lead with six games remaining. 

The Gers amassed 102 points before Saturday's clash with Aberdeen and boasted a 25-point lead over Celtic at the Scottish Premier League summit. Gerrard's side did not lose a league match this season, the first time it has been done since Celtic managed it in 2017.   

The Scottish Premier League title win is Rangers' 55th top-flight title and their first in ten years

Fans sang club chants and used drums to add to the party atmosphere on Saturday morning

Rangers can amass 102 points if they beat Aberdeen on Saturday lunchtime at 12.30pm

On Friday night, Rangers fans lit up red flares on the banks of the River Clyde at around 9pm

Rangers also broke the 100-point barrier for the first time ever and only the second time in Scottish football history, after Brendan Rodgers' Celtic in their unbeaten campaign. 

Rangers also completed a 100 per cent winning record in league home games, the first time it has been done since Martin O'Neill managed it with Celtic in the early 2000s.  

The title celebrations among Rangers supporters continued on Friday night when thousands of fans from the Union Bears supporters group lit up the banks of Glasgow's River Clyde with red flares. 

Police Scotland confirmed that officers were called to the river at around 10.15pm on Friday night but no arrests were made and the group was dispersed shortly afterwards. 

SAGE says it's a 'realistic possibility' Indian variant could lead to 1,000 Covid deaths by summer 

There is a 'realistic possibility' the Indian Covid variant is far more transmissible than the Kent strain and could lead to up to a thousand deaths a day by summer, the Government's scientists warned last night.

The SPI-M subgroup said it was confident the mutant B.1.617.2 strain was more infectious than the currently dominant variant, and that it could spread up to 50 per cent more easily.

It warned that pressing on with easing all lockdown restrictions on June 21, as is currently the plan for England, could lead to more than 10,000 more people being hospitalised with the disease daily by Autumn. 

The bleak forecasts were presented to No10 this week after cases of the strain more than doubled in seven days and four people were found to have died from the variant.  

Scientists advising SAGE this month estimated what a more transmissible strain could do to the country after lockdown is lifted in June and claimed it could trigger up to 20,000 hospital admissions per day in a worst-case scenario. January's peak, which nearly crippled the NHS, was around 3,800 a day in England.

A Warwick University modelling team cautioned that if it was 40 per cent more transmissible the next surge could be worse than the second wave, with up to 6,000 daily admissions, and a 50 per cent increase could lead to 10,000 per day. Less grisly numbers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine suggested a 50 per cent rise could lead to 4,000 per day.

But there are still glimmers of hope, with experts saying it remains unclear whether the current variant spreads significantly quicker or whether it is a coincidence it sprung up in places that already had high transmission or simply emerged in clusters linked to people flying into the country from abroad. 

Vaccines are still likely to work against the strain, research suggests, and there are no signs it is more deadly. But faster transmission means more people getting infected and more opportunities for 'vaccine failure' - when people get sick even after having a jab, which may happen to between five and 15 per cent of people.  

The variant still only makes up a minority of cases nationwide - around 10 per cent - but it is growing quickly and particularly in hotspots such as Bolton, Blackburn, Bedford and Sefton in Merseyside, where it is confirmed to account for more than half of all positive tests.

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