'Make next game a showcase' Alex Salmond warns the Old Firm

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THE next Old Firm clash in two weeks' time must be a showcase for Scottish football rather than an embarrassment, Alex Salmond has warned ahead of tomorrow's emergency summit.

The First Minister said the meeting would focus on ensuring "we get into a much, much better place" after the violence of last week's explosive Celtic-Rangers cup tie.

The summit, which Mr Salmond will chair, is expected to consider a range of measures in an attempt to avert a repeat of what he has described as "disgraceful scenes".

Options which may be discussed at the summit may include extending alcohol bans on match days, transferring more weekend fixtures to week nights, and increasing police powers to disperse drunken fans.

The clubs will next meet in the Co-operative Insurance Cup Final at Hampden in Glasgow, at 3pm on Sunday, 20 March.

Mr Salmond said: "We've got a Rangers-Celtic cup final - the League Cup final - in two weeks' time. So our immediate task in hand is to make sure that cup final becomes a showcase for the Scottish game, not an embarrassment. Then, following on from that, to try and do everything we can to make sure that better atmosphere continues.

"The summit on Tuesday will be focused on what everybody can do - the police, the clubs, the football authorities, the government - to make sure we get this into a much, much better place.

"The worry we've got (is] too many people attached to the clubs - that's fans, players, management - have tended to let themselves down, let the clubs down and by implication let their country down."

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association said wider alcohol bans could be introduced in time for the match, but doubted whether they would help curb violence and disorder.

• David Weir insists Rangers have no case to answer on discipline problems

Chief executive Paul Waterson said cutting the opening hours of bars and off-licences in the area would simply lead to fans drinking more at home.

He said: "The problem is the vast majority of fans who are going to abuse alcohol do so at home anyway. We have become a nation of take-home drinkers."

Mr Waterson called instead for more matches to be played on midweek evenings, and for weekend games to kick off at 3pm rather than noon.

Glasgow City Council confirmed police could apply for closure orders on individual premises under current powers.

Strathclyde Police has launched an investigation into incidents at last Wednesday's Scottish Cup tie at Celtic Park, which Celtic won 1-0.

The referee issued 16 red and yellow cards - the most at an Old Firm game for 20 years - while 34 people were arrested and Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Rangers' assistant manager Ally McCoist had to be pulled apart after the final whistle.The confrontation followed a touchline incident during the game and a bust-up in the tunnel at half-time involving players and staff.

Strathclyde Police said it had received complaints from members of the public "regarding allegations surrounding the events during the match".

Lennon's lawyer has condemned "malicious and despicable individuals" for making allegations against the Celtic manager.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland yesterday accused some players, coaching staff and fans of besmirching the game and the name of Scotland. The Rt Rev John Christie warned the behaviour witnessed at the "ugly" clash risks creating another generation for whom "anger and confrontation is the norm".

Former first minister Henry McLeish called for an acknowledgement from Rangers and Celtic that they need to "put their own house in order". He did not believe the clubs' management teams have been outspoken enough following the game.

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