Old Firm hope for trouble-free cup final

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The Independent Football

Both Old Firm sides have been visited by Strathclyde Police ahead of tomorrow's CIS Cup final between the sides. Recent matches between Rangers and Celtic have been so fractious and discordant that they prompted the intervention of first minister Alex Salmond, who chaired a summit which led to the police visits. The assistant manager of Rangers, Ally McCoist, described their talk as being "very relaxed".

McCoist was speaking after the chief superintendent met players and staff at Rangers yesterday, hoping to remind them of their responsibilities. "We had a very relaxed discussion with the chief super and he was fantastic," McCoist said. "We just sat the boys down and we had a good blether. With the greatest respect, he probably didn't say anything we didn't already know. But if it was a gentle reminder that everybody needed, then it has been delivered and delivered very, very well. Both parties, the police and our staff, are delighted to have had the meeting. Hopefully that will be a great success and Sunday's cup final should go off okay."

The push from the authorities to ensure that tomorrow's game is trouble-free is partly a response to the Scottish Cup match on 2 March. That evening three Rangers players were dismissed, 10 yellow cards were issued and McCoist had to be separated from the manager of Celtic, Neil Lennon, at the final whistle. The pair received touchline bans as punishment.

The Rangers midfielder Steven Naismith yesterday downplayed that particular night. "It was just heat-of-the-moment stuff," he said. "We came out of it looking a lot worse in terms of cards but it's just two teams wanting to win a game." The Celtic striker Georgios Samaras, who yesterday signed a new four-year deal, also tried to contextualise the incidents of that evening. "To be honest I was surprised by the reaction because from my point of view it was not so big a deal," said the Greek. "It was just the passion of the Old Firm. It is a passionate game and sometimes it comes out, it is normal, we are human and have emotions. I have seen much worse things in Greece that cannot be compared to here in Glasgow."

Celtic have Scott Brown and Mark Wilson back from suspension tomorrow although Daniel Majstorovic will be out. Rangers will be without Kyle Bartley, who has a knee injury. McCoist said that he was "really, really disappointed" for the 19-year-old.