Battling Old Firm rivals leave Scottish football chief ‘deeply embarrassed’

Rangers El-Hadji Diouf is sent off after the final whistle by referee Callum Murray.

Rangers El-Hadji Diouf is sent off after the final whistle by referee Callum Murray.

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SCOTTISH FA chief executive said today he was “deeply embarrassed” by trouble on and off the pitch at last night’s Old Firm derby.

Rangers had three men red-carded and the match ended with Rangers coach Ally McCoist and Celtic manager Neil Lennon involved in an angry confrontation.

FA boss Regan said: “The Scottish FA categorically condemns the inflammatory and irresponsible behaviour throughout last night’s Scottish Cup replay between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park.

“As chief executive of this organisation, I was both saddened and deeply embarrassed to witness the scenes that unfolded during what is supposed to be Scottish football’s flagship fixture: these images were broadcast around the world and shows our game in a poor light.

“I acknowledge the pressures of expectation on both clubs but last night’s behaviour crossed the boundaries of acceptable conduct at a football match.

“We have already launched an investigation into all incidents that occurred and will do everything in our power to ensure there is no repeat.

“The events at Celtic Park, however, run deeper than the Scottish FA’s disciplinary procedures. The unedifying sight of two of the country’s most recognisable and respected coaches engaged in an angry confrontation was not only unsavoury but exacerbated an already incendiary atmosphere inside the stadium and throughout the west of Scotland.

“The clubs have a duty of care to ensure that the image and integrity of the game is upheld at all times. This was not adhered to last night. This week, Strathclyde Police reiterated their concerns over the heightening violence and public disorder around Old Firm derbies. It is incumbent on Rangers and Celtic to ensure a far more responsible level of behaviour.

“In an age of austerity and financial hardship, football must try harder than ever in this country to restore its image as the national sport, extolling pride and passion. It fails in this regard.”

Former Sunderland midfielder El-Hadji Diouf was one of three Rangers players sent off. He was shown a second yellow card AFTER the final whistle, but still refused to leave the pitch and went to throw his shirt to Rangers fans.

Regan added: “Last night’s actions – which culminated in three red cards and 13 cautions in total – also re-emphasised the ongoing lack of respect for our match officials.

“It was a source of comfort that at least one person retained his composure amid last night’s chaos.

“Only a matter of months after our referees withdrew their labour, we had to witness the match official, Calum Murray, being manhandled, while another player who had been dismissed brazenly walked to his own supporters in defiance. It is a tribute to his professionalism that Calum and his team kept calm.

“A degree of faith in Scottish football was lost last night. All parties must work together to help restore it.”