Football: Old Firm inquiry looks at security

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The Independent Online
THE SCOTTISH Football Association has set a date of next Tuesday, 11 May, to hold a committee of inquiry into last Sunday's turbulent Old Firm derby at Parkhead. The SFA's executive committee have opted to conduct the inquiry before the Tennents Scottish Cup final so that any security measures decided can be introduced before the fixture at Hampden Park on 29 May.

The committee of inquiry's remit is to gather all available information, but it cannot itself sanction disciplinary action against either Celtic or Rangers, who will only learn of their fate after the final is played.

Chris Robinson, the Hearts chief executive and SFA vice-president, will chair the inquiry, which will also include his fellow vice-president John McBeth. Both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish League will assist the committee, who will consider all events surrounding the fixture, won 3-0 by Rangers to secure their 10th title in 11 seasons.

During a hostile game, the referee Hugh Dallas was struck by a missile, while three fans ran on to the pitch intent on attacking the official who, over an ugly 90 minutes, sent off three players.

In a statement, the SFA said: "The committee of inquiry will look at what positive steps can be taken to create a safe venue and an enjoyable event when the clubs next meet on 29 May in the Scottish Cup final and on any future occasion. They will interview officials of both clubs, the four match officials, the referee supervisor, the SFA security advisor, and the relevant authorities.

"The committee will not, however, be dealing with any disciplinary sanctions relating to the match, which will be considered by the SFA after the Scottish Cup final."

Celtic's Stephane Mahe, one of the players sent off by Dallas, has criticised the referee's decision which sparked the furore during the game. The 27-year-old Frenchman yesterday defended his actions at Celtic Park, following which Dallas was cut by a missile thrown from the stand.

Later more than 100 fans were arrested in Glasgow by police wearing riot gear as rival groups fought following Rangers' victory. Mahe took four minutes to leave the pitch after his dismissal and wrestled with team- mates who could not pacify the former Auxerre and Paris St-Germain player.

Mahe was reported by several Scottish newspapers as saying he was a victim of a vendetta by Dallas. "It is not the first time for Mr Dallas and me. I have had trouble with him before," he said. Dallas sent off Mahe against Kilmarnock earlier in the season and he had collected two yellow cards for dissent on Sunday.

"No matter what I said, he refused to listen," Mahe said. "It was clear to everyone in the ground that Rangers' players were putting in tough tackles, but he ignored those. If he was sending me off, he should have sent the guilty Rangers players off, too."

Of his refusal to leave the pitch, Mahe said: "People thought I was trying to get at Dallas to harm him but I was so angry that I just wanted to approach him to make him see sense. I would never have been violent."

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