Sectarian rules branded biased by Rangers fans

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The Independent Football

The Rangers Supporters Trust today warned they will question the motives of the Scottish Premier League's unacceptable conduct policy if the club's fans are reported for alleged sectarian chanting during the Old Firm derby.

It is understood SPL match delegate Alan Dick could mention some of the chants and songs that appeared to come from the away support during Sunday's goalless draw at Celtic Park.

Dick reported Rangers to the SPL in August 2007 under similar circumstances following the Ibrox club's trip to Inverness and, while there was no action taken, there was a warning of sanctions should there be any future complaint.

Rangers have campaigned tirelessly in recent years to rid the club of its sectarian baggage but the SPL would come under pressure to punish them if they are presented with evidence of more transgressions.

However, RST spokesman David Edgar told PA Sport another black mark against the supporters' reputation would, in their eyes, raise questions about the SPL's agenda.

"While it is difficult to comment until we've seen the report, we are looking forward to an even-handed and consistent approach to the application of this legislation," Edgar said.

"We find it hard to believe that Rangers fans are the only fans in the country who have ever sung an offensive song; yet we are the only ones who have been reported under the rules.

"There were instance of distasteful chanting coming from both ends on Sunday but, yet again, the focus is only on one set of fans.

"It therefore becomes very difficult for the supporters to understand what is going on.

"Are the rules genuinely in place to eradicate offensive chanting or simply to punish Rangers?

"What about Aberdeen fans singing about the Ibrox disaster or Celtic fans singing about Nacho Novo and the IRA?

"We are committed to ridding Scottish football of all genuinely offensive chanting and Rangers fans have responded magnificently over the last couple of years.

"However, we are left with wondering if this is a rule for all the SPL clubs or are a rule simply for Rangers."

Rangers escaped punishment for the Inverness affair after the SPL board took into account the club's efforts to eradicate unacceptable conduct by some of their supporters.

The incident at the Caledonian Stadium 18 months ago came just nine days after the launch of Rangers' 'Follow With Pride' campaign, which was aimed at cleaning up the club's image by ending sectarian and other abusive chanting.

However, the club had previously been fined on two occasions by UEFA for offensive chanting in Champions League and UEFA Cup matches, amounting to in excess of £21,000.

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist played down speculation that the Ibrox club will be up on yet another SPL charge.

McCoist, who will take control of team affairs for tomorrow's Homecoming Scottish Cup trip to Forfar, said: "I don't know enough about it.

"I don't know what the delegate said in his report; I've not seen anything so I wouldn't comment on it."

An SPL spokesman would not comment on any specific case but explained the process involved if the match delegate brings anything untoward to their attention.

He told PA Sport: "We are expecting the match report in the next 24 hours, which is normal following a Sunday game.

"In general terms, if the delegate flags up any incidents involving crowd behaviour, we cross-check with police, match officials and the clubs involved to get a broad feel for the issue.

"We would then write to both clubs to comment or provide additional information and then we can make an assessment.

"If we do think there has been a breach of the rules, we pass it on the SPL board, who take a formal view."

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