Football: Celtic protest over Gascoigne gesture

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The Independent Online
Paul Gascoigne has once again found himself in the eye of the storm. On the day he apologised publicly for his inflammatory gesture in miming playing the flute in front of Celtic fans at the recent Old Firm game, it emerged that Celtic have lodged an official complaint with the Scottish Football Association over the incident, which was captured on television.

Gascoigne returned to action in that game at Celtic Park following a four-match suspension but could find himself on the sidelines once again if the SFA take a stand on an issue they can judge from television evidence.

Gascoigne sat out the 2-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday and, reading from a prepared statement, said afterwards: "I would like to unreservedly apologise for my actions at Celtic Park last week. I totally accept I should not have made the gesture. I am aware of the hard work undertaken by Rangers in this area and my actions did nothing to assist the efforts being carried out. Due to the sensitive nature of the matter, rather than deal with the situation in private, I decided I would like to make this apology public. I fully accept that I should think twice before carrying out actions such as last week."

Gascoigne added that he has been fined pounds 20,000 by the club. It was the second time he has made a public apology, the first coming after a red card issued against Ajax in the Champions' League in 1996.

Even without Gascoigne, Rangers burst past a poor Aberdeen side to increase their lead over Celtic to four points.

Celtic's 1-1 draw at Motherwell was another game accompanied by off-field drama as Davey Hay, the club's former chief scout, laid bare in a tabloid newspaper his view on the in-fighting he perceives to be happening at the club, while Alan Stubbs felt motivated enough to announce on radio that he has no plans to leave in the summer as reports had suggested.

The mood of the Celtic fans was darkened by a penalty miss by Darren Jackson at Fir Park.

Hearts take on St Johnstone tonight knowing they can reduce Rangers' lead to one point. Their Edinburgh neighbours, Hibernian, secured their first victory in 16 matches thanks to Steve Crawford, who scored the only goal against Dunfermline, who have now played eight games without a victory themselves.

- David McKinney