Ian Wright slams ‘vile’ Old Firm derby and ‘pro-Rangers’ media

Ian Wright after completing his move to Celtic in 1999. Picture: Allan Milligan/TSPL

Ian Wright after completing his move to Celtic in 1999. Picture: Allan Milligan/TSPL

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Former Celtic striker Ian Wright has condemned the “super-intense religious bigotry” that exists within the Old Firm derby.

The ex-Arsenal and England hitman played for the green half of Glasgow’s divide for a brief period in the 1999-00 season under John Barnes.

Writing in his new autobiography A Life In Football, Wright says he was “naive” prior to his move north of the border and that he wasn’t prepared for the hatred he would experience.

He writes: “This wasn’t football, listening to songs being sung from the start to the finish of the game saying ‘**** the Pope and the IRA’, or you’re in your car and people start banging on the roof shouting ‘No retreat! No surrender!’ At first, I didn’t even know what they were talking about.

“There was a vile atmosphere, fuelled by hatred, especially at the Auld Firm derby [sic]. Fans love to talk about it like it’s this unbelievable thing! It’s not an unbelievable thing: it’s a nasty, tense, unsporting environment of super-intense religious bigotry that’s nothing to do with sport.”

Wright goes on to repeat claims, originally made back in 2000, that he was spat at by Celtic fans in the wake of the 3-1 defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup, the match that would cost Barnes his job as manager.

He also states his belief that the media in Scotland were biased in favour of one half of the Old Firm.

He adds: “The press up there seemed to be very pro-Rangers, too, so journalists had so much fun ridiculing me and my so-called lack of form up there.”

Wright played 10 games for Celtic, scoring three goals. His autobiography A Life In Football is on sale now.

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