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Msp's To Attend Up-coming Old Firm Fixture


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THE first Old Firm match of the season will see four new faces making their debut.

The debutants, however, will not be on the pitch, but in the Ibrox stands, when a group of politicians embark on a fact-finding mission to observe the crowd and the security arrangements.

Four members of Holyrood's justice committee will join police controlling the fans to see for themselves the difficulties of introducing new laws to tackle sectarianism at football matches.

The justice committee is currently scrutinising the anti-bigotry proposals, which were introduced by the SNP government following ugly scenes at Rangers v Celtic fixtures last season.

The introduction of the plans have proved controversial, with some fans claiming they are unnecessary. There have also been concerns about how they can actually be enforced at football grounds packed with thousands of passionate supporters.

Yesterday, the justice committee convener, Christine Grahame, SNP, said: "We will be watching behaviour at the match and seeing in a pragmatic way just how enforceable it (the anti-sectarian legislation] is."

Ms Grahame has been to only one professional football match before, and that was so long ago that she cannot remember who was playing.

"I'm not a football person," she said. "I am not really sporting. When I was convener of the health and sport committee I used to say that I'm neither healthy nor sporting. But that is not relevant, frankly.

"This is an objective appraisal of what's taking place. It is rather like a site visit in a court case.

"I am not prudish, so I am not going to get a fright. I am going because I am interested in the reaction of people. I am interested in how the police and the stewards operate and how their planning works."

Ms Grahame added: "I won't really be watching the match. I am looking to see how it is policed in the widest sense."

Her committee colleague Alison McInnes, Lib Dem, has never been to a football match, although she follows the Scotland team on the television.

"It will be good to go, so that we are a bit better informed about this," Ms McInnes said.

The only match that the Conservative MSP John Lamont has ever been to was the Scotland v Brazil friendly last season.

"It is more of an education for me," he said.

"The police have offered to give us a security briefing to see what they do to try and deal with offensive behaviour and what goes on.

Mr Lamont added: "The game will put some things into context for those of us who are football novices."

The politicians will meet Strathclyde police, who will explain their security strategies before kick-off on Sunday 18 September. Each MSP will be assigned to a police officer, who will take them around the ground to observe security measures and fans' behaviour.

They will also meet the "match commander", the senior police officer in charge of big football occasions.

When the final whistle has sounded, they will observe the fans leaving the ground. The MSP on the fact-finding mission with most experience of football is Colin Keir, the SNP member for Edinburgh Western, who is a Hearts fan and an occasional visitor to Tynecastle.

He will be going to Ibrox on public transport so that he can observe the travelling support.

"I have never been to an Old Firm game," he said. "But I have been to Tynecastle and Easter Road when they have been playing.

"I have obviously got some preconceived ideas because of what you see at matches in Edinburgh. But I can't go in with these preconceived ideas. What I may have thought before is completely irrelevant. I need to just find out what it is like in situ."

He admitted that producing effective legislation would be challenge. "This is a problem that we have, because obviously no-one wants to put in bad legislation - legislation that can't be enforced is bad. You are wasting your time."

Last night, their trip was given a cautious welcome by fans' organisations.

Andy Kerr, president of the Rangers Supporters' Assembly, said: "If they are going to consider new legislation, they have got to consider the practical application of it, and the best place to do that is amongst the fans. That's the best way to do it. Otherwise, you have MSPs who are a bit removed from the match environment taking legislation forward without seeing the week-to-week activities of the fans. This has to be done from a position of fact, rather than perception," he said.

"We would encourage MSPs to go to games all round the country as well, and I would strongly encourage them to go out, so that they understand what these issues are about."

Jeanette Findlay, of the Celtic Trust, a supporters and shareholders organisation, said: "They will see there is not a problem at these matches and there is not a massive number of arrests, there is no violence and you are probably safer at a Scottish football ground than you would be in other places that you go to during your life. They will see that, and that's good."

A spokesman for Rangers Football Club said: "They are coming at the invitation of Rangers Football Club, as we can assist their understanding of the fixture."

Celtic declined to comment on the visit.

http://news.scotsman.com/theoldfirm/We39ve-never-seen-an-Old.6833814.jp?articlepage=2

May have been posted earlier today.

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I must admit I have no faith in this bunch at all.

But I would really love for one of them at least to notice 7,000+ people mainly Scottish born, singing a foreign national anthem.

And then reflect on the question.

Is it really such a nasty, racist, bigotted thing to ask why they don't go home?

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Will there be any in the celtic end listening to their vile IRA pish, no of course not. They will hear "sectarian" singing from the Rangers end but will fail to hear any from the celtic end, much like at hearts last season when "they" went unpunished.

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Will there be any in the celtic end listening to their vile IRA pish, no of course not. They will hear "sectarian" singing from the Rangers end but will fail to hear any from the celtic end, much like at hearts last season when "they" went unpunished.

Ive never really got this argument in Scotland. None of the two of us have been punished for singing here.

Its only in Europe. (tu)

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True, but our singing is always in the rhags etc. I forsee this being a problem for us, but not them.

Was defo the case for years but there has been a wind of change and the end of last season, once our guys got their act together, the tables have turned in my view. Ive read and heard about their songs a lot more in the last 6 months than ever before.

I think the credit has to go to all our troops who have pulled their socks up (tu)

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Was defo the case for years but there has been a wind of change and the end of last season, once our guys got their act together, the tables have turned in my view. Ive read and heard about their songs a lot more in the last 6 months than ever before.

I think the credit has to go to all our troops who have pulled their socks up (tu)

We as a support have cleaned up the banned songs and the add ons, but with their agenda will they hear what they want to hear?

After all as a Kilmarnock fan said to me last week "it must be sectarian Rangers fans sing it"

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Unless they are going to end something as important and far reaching as sectarian education why are they even bothering with football

Free Ticket, Day out, free drink etc. And it's probably the 1st time they have been to an old firm game.

not many would turn down that chance. even if they are MSP'S.

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:crabflute: put the bastards in the septic end and sit with and listen to the filthy bastards all arround them and before the game let them stand at the corner of edmiston drive and broomloan road and listen to the scum chants and songs about the ira and watch the police do fuck all as the call them orange bastards and passing bears and another thing make the bastards buy a ticket .and one more thing on this let them look at the large number of septic fans able bodied and walking without any impediment who are carrying very large :walking sticks:
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