As Rangers fans group the Union Bears take aim at Scottish government Covid-19 restrictions surrounding football, a startling admission proves that fans have been short-changed by Holyrood.

The Ibrox Ultras have expressed huge frustration by unfurling a banner outside the Scottish Parliament that simply says “Stop Control”.

Aimed at the government reducing stadium capacities to 500 – even whilst admitting it was more to do with optics and messaging than science – the fans group are speaking for a large slice of supporters.

Around 49,500 Rangers fans missed out on the club’s Boxing Day victory over St Mirren whilst the winter break was moved forward to give fans the best chance of being in the grounds.


Not only did this shortchange fans who’d paid for season tickets, but it shortchanged football supporters used to a festive schedule of games for generations.

And whilst some sounds suggest fans will return upon the end of this period next week – and others don’t – the group’s protest very much stands and gets a point across.

“Almost three weeks have passed since the Scottish Government imposed ill-thought-out restrictions of a 500-capacity limitation regardless of the size of stadium,” reads a UB statement.

“Once again, the Scottish Government has rushed into an authoritarian-like decision and are using football fans as scapegoats. 

“In addition, the Scottish Government has yet to offer any indication of a roadmap out of these latest restrictions.

“Attending football matches is such an important event for so many, particularly throughout the festive season which is a tradition spanning generations.

“Football serves as respite for many within the country, particularly in a time where there is so much uncertainty in people’s livelihoods. 

“It is crucial that the Scottish Government provides the required support rather than punishment of capacity limitations. Stop Control.”

Scottish Government defend “minor” restrictions as Rangers fans protest at Holyrood

This message hits somewhat harder when we consider the most recent comments of the Scottish Government national clinical director.

In what should be a thorough embarrassment to the Scottish Government, Jason Leitch claims that restrictions on nightclubs and football matches have made little difference in the fight against Covid when compared to England, who kept their stadiums open.

Insisting that the restrictions were “minor” – despite the sizeable backlash – Leitch toiled on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme to justify the moves.

“The differences between the four countries are quite minor, actually, in terms of restrictions, but also in terms of that data,” said Leitch [via the Times].

“If you want to do the comparison, Northern Ireland’s number is much higher than ours. Wales is higher. England and Scotland is very similar. We were lower than them, now they’re catching up a little bit.

Scotland's Health Secretary Visits Monklands University Hospital
(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

“Single week numbers are very difficult to interpret… the Office for National Statistics survey where they do about 60,000 random households a week suggests that Scotland still has the lowest case rate in the UK but it is coming closer together.”

So essentially, the Scottish government restricted people’s freedoms without just scientific reasoning and there remains serious doubts it had any impact on the spread of the virus.

If that’s not justification for a protest or for Rangers fans highlighting the flaws of the Scottish Government’s approach, then we don’t know what is.

Rangers’ newly arranged fixture with Celtic is set to go ahead on February 2nd – exactly one month on than originally planned – but one player could be set to miss the crunch Premiership clash.

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