Football: Rangers to ban Celtic supporters

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RANGERS have decided to withhold all ticket allocations to Celtic supporters for the final Old Firm game of the season - at Ibrox on 30 April - because they claim their Glasgow rivals' fans are responsible for more than pounds 20,000-worth of damage in the stadium during matches between the clubs since March 1992, writes David McKinney.

David Murray, the Rangers chairman, indicated that several requests to Celtic for them to admit responsibility and reimburse Rangers for the damage have met with refusal. 'We have created a magnificent stadium and it is our view that the public should come to Ibrox to enjoy their football in safe and comfortable surroundings,' he said.

'This type of wanton vandalism can no longer be tolerated. Our supporters know the standards that are expected of them: they accept a code of conduct laid down by ourselves, and it is our opinion that Celtic Football Club, or indeed any other clubs whose followers cause damage, must accept responsibility.'

Responding for Celtic, Michael Kelly, a club director, countered: 'I'm very, very disappointed in this decision, which is not worthy of a club like Rangers. The game will be the poorer for it.'

There is no rule in the statutes of the Scottish Football League which prevents a club from banning visiting supporters, although Peter Donald, the SFL secretary, said: 'It is acknowledged as part of the excitement of the game that there are two sets of supporters in a ground, and in some way the game is lessened if only one group of fans is allowed access.' Celtic have said they have no plans to respond with a reciprocal ban on Rangers supporters at Celtic Park.

In England, supporters of Leeds United, disgusted by the snub to Sir Matt Busby at Blackburn on Sunday, have started to 'shop' the culprits. The Leeds chairman, Leslie Silver, said yesterday that supporters had been phoning the club with names and addresses of those who broke the minute's silence before the game. Information is being processed, and Silver reiterated that those responsible would be banned from home and away matches for life.

Some fans whose pictures have appeared in newspapers have contacted the club claiming they were not taken during the minute's silence. The club's general manager, Alan Roberts, is obtaining signed statements from photographers, indicating the time their shots were taken.

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