Football: Security fear at Old Firm game

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The Independent Online
SECURITY OFFICERS at Celtic and Rangers will meet later this week to finalise arrangements for what is potentially one of the most hostile Old Firm derbies in the fixture's long history.

Rangers have the opportunity to seal the title at their rivals' Parkhead home for the first time if they win on Sunday, an outcome which would have huge security implications.

Already the Scottish Premier League has stressed there is no prospect of the trophy being presented to Rangers at Celtic Park - that would wait until their following home game, against Hearts.

Rangers' security officer, Lawrence McIntyre, has raised the issue of where players not involved in the action should sit, fearing they might be subject to abuse if based in the main stand.

His Celtic counterpart, George Douglas, has confirmed that given the sensitive nature of an already high-profile fixture, special arrangements might well need to be made in conjunction with the police. He said: "We will be having a formal meeting with police in which security at the match will be discussed and the agenda of what we will be covering at that meeting is fairly full.

"It has happened before that players from the opposing side have been seated in the away section, but I cannot speak for the police who may have their own views on what should happen on the day this time.

"The Old Firm game is quite different from all other matches and brings its own pressures, but both clubs are well-rehearsed regarding the operation which needs to be put in place and every issue will be addressed."

Tosh McKinlay will treat the match as if it is his last but has no intention of it heralding the end of Celtic's title ambitions. The Scotland international defender is determined that Rangers will not secure the title this weekend, even if he has to score to make sure. Remarkably, during his long Celtic career, which may well come to a close this summer, McKinlay has never scored.

Speaking at a coaching session for youngsters from ethnic minorities at Tollcross, in Glasgow, McKinlay outlined Celtic's will to win. Although he collected a slight calf strain during last weekend's 1-0 defeat at St Johnstone, McKinlay expects to be playing on Sunday with his captain, Tom Boyd, suspended from the backline.

He said: "I hope I can be okay because it would be a right one to miss. Everyone at the club is still quite confident going into the game on Sunday. Despite last Saturday's loss there is no pessimism because we have clawed it back a long way and hopefully we can claim the three points and take our chance from there."

McKinlay endured a frustrating time under Celtic's previous head coach, Wim Jansen, who plainly never rated the player, but Jozef Venglos has judged him differently. The 34-year-old has justified the Slovakian's faith by combining defensive nous with creativity on the left since his call to emergency service in recent weeks.