Nicola Sturgeon once again appears to have hit out at Rangers supporters following their Scottish Premiership title parties on the streets and squares of Glasgow. Some fans congregated in numbers despite coronavirus regulations to celebrate the Gers’ first title since 2011.
Steven Gerrard’s side were confirmed as champions for the first time in a decade earlier this month after Celtic drew at Dundee United, leaving Rangers 20 points clear atop the table with six games to go.
The two Old Firm rivals are due to go head-to-head at Parkhead this Sunday (12pm kick-off) but Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and First Minister of Scotland Sturgeon has cast doubt over the fixture going ahead.
There have been concerns the match could be called off after thousands of Rangers fans flouted rules to gather in celebration at George Square on March 7.
The day before, many fans also welcomed Gerrard and the Rangers players to Ibrox prior to their home victory over St Mirren.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “On upcoming Celtic vs Rangers match, we need clear messaging from everyone that fans must stay at home.
“If police intelligence tells us, despite clear messaging, that groups of fans are going to gather to square off with each other, we need to consider if the game should be postponed.”
Sturgeon has yet to make a decision on whether or not the match will go ahead this weekend and did not mention it in her Wednesday address.
But she did appear to take a fresh dig at Rangers supporters, suggesting that some have not been fully honest about where they contracted COVID-19.
There have only been a small number of confirmed Covid cases in Scotland that can be directly linked to the celebrations in the city.
SNP leader Sturgeon said: “There has been a very small number of cases we think through the case management system associated with the gatherings at Rangers.
“There may be more – maybe people who were at that, if they have got the virus, they may not be saying they were at that, I don’t know.”
While Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said: “You ask about the significance of the events in Glasgow, not last weekend, but the weekend before when Rangers were crowned champions.
“What we have seen through the test and protect is that there is certainly small number of people who have been very honest, and we are very grateful for their honesty, in saying that they were part of those celebrations.
“That is allowing us to contact people who they might have been in contact with to ask them to isolate to try and break these chains of infection.”
Sturgeon was critical of Rangers fans earlier this week insisting she expects a rise in positive cases due to the celebrations.
She said: “We also need to be really opened eyed about this. This is a virus, so any time we open up and people start to come together there is greater opportunity for transmission.”
Following criticism from Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Steven Gerrard issued a statement on Saturday night asking for fans to avoid getting together.
“This is another huge week for Rangers Football Club,” the Light Blues boss declared.
“The players would want nothing more than to hear the fans sing and support us in the ground and hear you behind every pass, every tackle, and to lose themselves in utter euphoria when the ball hits the net.
“Sadly, however, right here and right now, you can’t be there with us. You can’t follow us to Parkhead as champions – and the first time we can say we are champions in a decade.
“That hurts me, it hurts my management team and it hurts my players. Make no doubt about it, we want you there with us, but sadly, right now, you can’t be.
“We know you are with us here in spirit and we know how much last weekend meant to you when we secured the title. We know all of you enjoyed it, but we must stay safe, and stay at home.”
Similarly, Celtic interim manager John Kennedy said: “For us, and for everyone, it’s about staying at home, being safe and sticking to the rules and legislation that’s in place.
“It’s difficult for everyone, it’s a difficult period for society as a whole, but especially surrounding the game, and the attention it brings, we want to make sure everyone does the right thing and stays at home and keeps everybody safe.”
While Rangers are already champions, for the 55th time, Celtic can at least end their unbeaten record this season provided the Old Firm derby goes ahead on Sunday.