Wetherspoon pubs won’t show Celtic v Rangers match

Mo Edu challenges Anthony Stokes as Ki looks on during a Celtic v Rangers match in October 2010. Picture: Jane Barlow

Mo Edu challenges Anthony Stokes as Ki looks on during a Celtic v Rangers match in October 2010. Picture: Jane Barlow

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THE largest pub chain in Britain has confirmed that none of its Glasgow outlets will show next month’s League Cup semi final between Celtic and Rangers over fears of violence.

The JD Wetherspoon firm, which owns nine bars in Glasgow, including The Counting House in St Vincent Place and the Crystal Palace on Jamaica Street, will also beef up security for the match on February 1.

Rangers fans collect their tickets. Picture: SNS

Rangers fans collect their tickets. Picture: SNS

And police officers are visiting pubs across Scotland in a bid to work out where to have extra bodies in place if violence breaks out during the highly-anticipated clash.

Senior police chiefs want to know which pubs are showing the match, what their clientele is and if bars have a history of trouble.

Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for Wetherspoon, told the Daily Record: “Wetherspoon’s will not be showing the match in any of its Glasgow pubs. The decision was taken about a week back.

“The police have been to the pubs to advise that the game is on and ask what measures the pubs are taking. On the day of the match, door staff will be in place where required.”

Wetherspoon has over 70 bars in Scotland alone, and a source said area managers would decide if bars outwith Glasgow would show the game live on their televisions.

Due to be shown on BBC, the match is the first time Celtic and Rangers have met since April 2012.

But police fear the 1.30pm kick-off time for the derby will give supporters more time to drink before the match.

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A police source confirmed that officers were visiting pubs to interview staff but described it as ‘normal practice’ before a big game.

Police are focusing attention on Ayrshire, where there are a number of pubs frequented by fans of both Celtic and Rangers.

Supt Neil Kerr, of Police Scotland’s Ayrshire Division said: “Officers are visiting licensed premises to establish where the game is being shown. We do this for any high-profile events, including past Old Firm matches.”

Bars have been flashpoints for violence on previous match days, with nine police officers injured during an attack at the Rowallan bar in Thornliebank after Celtic defeated Rangers 3-0 in February 2011.

There were close to 300 arrests after the match as trouble broke out in Glasgow, with some suspects taken to police stations outside of Glasgow due to cells in the city being full.

And police dealt with 119 domestic violence cases after a Celtic-Rangers match in March 2012.

Donald MacLeod, the chairman of Glasgow Licensing forum, said the majority of bars in Glasgow would show the match.

He said: “Pubs are already required to put strict safety measures in place on match days as a condition of their licence. This includes providing properly trained and badged stewards

“The vast majority of fans watching Old Firm games in pubs do so peacefully. Only a small minority cause trouble. Crime in pubs and clubs is down and most incidents take place in the street.

“I’d be more concerned about the easy availability of cheap alcohol in off sales before the game, or even the night before.”

Craig Houston, a member of Rangers supporters’ group Sons of Struth told the Record: ““Normally, when you get trouble after an Old Firm game, it’s late at night – not when the game is being shown in a pub.

“If they’re really that worried about customers’ safety they would shut the pubs at night, but I don’t see Wetherspoon’s doing that.

“It seems strange they are penalising fans who can’t get a ticket and want to have a pint and enjoy their game.”

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