Andy Halliday ‘could have sparked riot’, Mark Warburton told

Rangers' Andy Halliday (right) leaves the field after he is shown a red card at Morton. Picture: SNS
Rangers' Andy Halliday (right) leaves the field after he is shown a red card at Morton. Picture: SNS
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Rangers manager Mark Warburton is to seek clarification from the SFA on acceptable forms of goal celebration as he struggles to comprehend Andy Halliday’s controversial dismissal against Morton.

Warburton is still stunned by the second yellow card administered to Rangers midfielder Halliday during Monday night’s 2-0 win at Cappielow, describing it as “beyond belief”.

I just find the whole process and decision frustrating beyond belief.

Mark Warburton

Halliday, booked a few minutes earlier for a foul on Declan McManus, was cautioned again by referee Barry Cook on the advice of his assistant David McKniff following his reaction to Barrie McKay scoring Rangers’ second goal of the game.

The 24-year-old was deemed to have made an offensive gesture by raising his arms in the air towards the Rangers supporters and then turning his head towards Morton fans in another section of the ground.

With no appeal allowed against a sending-off for two bookable offences, Halliday is suspended for Rangers’ next Championship fixture against Falkirk at Ibrox on Saturday.

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Warburton has contrasted Halliday’s actions with the infamous celebration of Emmanuel Adebayor, when he ran half the length of the pitch to taunt fans of his former club Arsenal when scoring against them for Manchester City in 2009, and warned that no player in Scotland will be safe from a yellow card regardless of how innocuous his response to a goal.

“It brings into question any player bringing their finger to their lips, or running down the side of the touchline,” Warburton told RangersTV.

“I’m thinking back to the time that Adebayor ran something like 80 or 90 yards to the fans. I can understand that, but the other night is a baffling decision and we will lose a player due to it as there is no appeals process.

“We will lose an important player in an important game in front of a packed Ibrox and we have got to look and ask ourselves ‘is that right?’ I just find the whole process and decision frustrating beyond belief.

“I watched the game when I got home on TV and you see them talking about the goal, talking about the great finish and the one-two then you see Andy Halliday looking bemused.

“He can’t work out what has gone on. Look at our bench, we get no dialogue and that’s not a good enough process.

“The explanation was that Andy made a gesture that could incite a riot or trouble with the Morton fans.

“I think that if a player runs up to a set of fans and makes a gesture in front of them in an intimidating manner, then I understand absolutely as the last thing anyone wants to see is any fan trouble or anyone hurt.

“It’s in the middle of the pitch and he’s walking back in front of the Rangers fans. I will aim to seek some clarity and an explanation, but I think everyone in football knows that if we start to go down that route in football then we would be booking and sending players off every time there is a game played.

“I’ve made it very clear and I’m always going to have to be careful about what I can and cannot say.

“For me, Andy Halliday was guilty of celebrating a goal. It [Cappielow] is a tough place to go, against a good opponent, with a good manager where it’s tough to get a victory and any team would find it hard to get the victory.

“We get the very important second goal and he celebrates in the middle of the pitch and to get a second yellow card for that is beyond belief.

“Look at the core point, a player has been awarded a second yellow, been booked, for celebrating a goal. I understand that if your shirt comes off you are booked, he literally raised his hand in a clenched fist in terms of saying ‘we’ve scored a second goal’, a big goal in front of the fans.

“I will wait to hear an explanation, but it will just be the normal.”

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