Rangers have launched a scathing riposte to those individuals in positions of responsibility who made untrue remarks in the fall-out of the club’s 2-1 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park earlier in the month.
The Ibrox club’s fans were roundly criticised in the press despite Kilmarnock’s failure to implement a new ticketing system almost causing a crush amongst the support.
As a result of the incident, Rangers met with officials at Rugby Park for a debriefing meeting.
An update from Rangers following the meeting was released on the Club 1872 website – a fan led group which is Rangers’ second largest shareholder.
For the sake of clarity, it has been provided in full below.
“Following a debriefing meeting at Rugby Park at the end of last week, Rangers is happy to provide an update to supporters, who have been calling for clarification on issues arising from the match against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Sunday, August 4.
Rangers felt it appropriate and sensible to wait until after the post-match debriefing session before commenting despite many others, including a Kilmarnock director, Phyllis McLeish, pundits and a politician, William Coffey, making misinformed as well as misleading comments.
However, now that the events of last Sunday have been fully analysed by all parties, we can offer a reasoned and fact-based insight into what happened.
Kilmarnock’s new ticketing system did indeed fail despite suggestions to the contrary. It has been accepted there was also a failure to deal properly with the problems this caused. There was no recognisable plan of action to deal with such a situation and it was very close to kick off before someone thought the problem, which had started to cause panic among those Rangers supporters, who were being pushed and squeezed together toward the turnstiles, should be brought to the attention of the police. By that time some Rangers fans were being crushed and in a state of alarm, and there are many testimonies which bear that out.
Kilmarnock has accepted their ticketing system failed (and that there had been problems with it at the game against Connahs Quay Nomads) despite one of their directors promoting the irresponsible notion there had been no operational problems. We would hope to receive a retraction and an apology from Kilmarnock for having pointed the finger of blame at Rangers fans for the issues which arose ahead of kick off. Those pundits, particularly two BBC Scotland contributors, Michael Stewart and Tom English, who made flippant and insulting comments without knowing the facts of what actually happened, might also wish to reconsider their comments and apologise now that the debriefing has revealed that a ticketing failure, and not the impatience of Rangers fans, caused the problem before the kick off on Sunday.
Mr Coffey might also wish to reconsider his own words.
No one at the debriefing disputed the view that there would not have been congestion and supporters would have gained admission smoothly and safely had the system operated properly. This view is supported by Police Scotland.
Rangers believe it was correct procedure to wait until after the debriefing, called by East Ayrshire Council’s legal services department, who issue the safety certificate for Rugby Park, before commenting.
Although there has been an attempt to roll everything that happened at Rugby Park into one issue it is important to retain a sense of perspective and balance. The congestion before the match had no bearing on what happened at the end of the game when Rangers fans went on to the pitch to celebrate a late winning goal. Their presence on the pitch cannot be condoned and Rangers are working with Police Scotland to identify and trace those who crossed the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
The same applies to the handful of fans who jumped on to the roof of the enclosure reserved for disabled supporters causing that covering to collapse. Their behaviour endangered the safety of their fellow fans and we are fortunate no one was badly hurt. Those fans will also be dealt with appropriately as soon as they are identified.
It’s pretty damning stuff.
The club have done very well here to protect the supporters who were resoundingly, and unfairly, criticised by some quarters following the incident.
The likes of Tom English have already been publicly criticised by the Rangers Supporters Liaison Officer for disgraceful comments suggesting complaints of a crush were embellished.
These individuals retain positions of influence with the national broadcaster, and whilst they are disparaging and desperate, they are absolutely to be expected. Which in some respects makes them worse.
There is little doubt they’ve been pulled into the hysteria surrounding the match.
The fact these two in particular have used their position to criticise Rangers fans before finding out the true facts of the incident is incredible, and the club are absolutely correct to suggest they reconsider.
The final statements, referring to blurred lines between incidents at the beginning of the game and the end (where fans invaded the pitch in celebration of a last minute winner) are absolutely spot on too.
These two incidents are separate and deserve to be treated as such.
But will the club see those individuals who have so clearly used this as an opportunity to attack Rangers fans take responsibility for their actions?
Or will these individuals continue to demand that Rangers fans, despite being let down by Kilmarnock, do the same?