RANGERS legends have slammed a group of Celtic supporters for intensifying the atmosphere ahead of next Sunday’s League Cup semi-final by taking out a full-page newspaper advert insisting it is the first meeting of the two clubs.
After Rangers went into administration and were liquidated three years ago, the advert is adamant that the traditional “Old Firm” tag can no longer be applied to matches between the Glasgow rivals.
Rangers were thrown to the bottom tier of Scottish football after being liquidated in 2012 but Rangers fans maintain the history and bloodline of the 140-year old Ibrox club never died.
Other Celtic supporters have distanced themselves from the advert which was carried in the Sunday Herald yesterday at a cost of £3,000.
The comments were met by complete disdain from leading Rangers men who were involved in yesterday’s Fernando Ricksen Tribute match which attracted a crowd of 41, 349 supporters.
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Alex Rae, now working as assistant to Alex McLeish at KRC Genk in Belgium, said: “Listen, that’s just provoking things. If that’s what they get their kicks from on the day, maybe it will take away from their performance!
“Seriously, good luck to them, they can conduct themselves like that if they want.
“Rangers, over the years, have tried to conduct themselves in the right manner, with a bit of dignity.
“So it’s not important what they do. What is important is how we conduct ourselves.”
McLeish, who was back in the Rangers dugout yesterday running a select side, said: “For me Celtic are missing Rangers. You see empty spaces at Celtic Park. Back in the day when Martin O’Neill was there and they had a superb team we did too.
“Stadiums were full every week. Celtic are missing Rangers. A lot of people will probably be trolling me for that but I think a lot of people will agree.”
There was a concurrence from the Dutch contingent who were at Ibrox to salute their fellow countryman who is suffering from motor neurone disease.
Bert Konterman said: “I have seen the same in Holland at PEC Zwolle, the team I joined as a young lad. When I came in, it was PEC Zwolle, it was FC Zwolle when I played there and the name went back to PEC. The shirt changed a little bit as well, but, overall, it is the same club. It is the same stadium, it is the same history.
“You can never erase that. No chance. Of course, I feel the same way about Rangers.
“It is a nice try, but no chance. It is in the heart of the people and that won’t change.
“I think it is a bit of sarcasm. It is funny from their side.”
Ronald de Boer also had a pop back at the un-named group of Celtic supporters for taking the action that they did and insisted that the club he played for four years between 2000 and 2004 is the same one.
De Boer said: “They are fans and I think only one per cent of people think that way.
“I think most people think differently and they will be looking forward to this game.
“Of course, people in Holland think of Rangers as the same club. They just think it is sad when they hear of it going into the Third Division. It is sad what happened because we have a lot of Dutch history in the club and they hope it is back soon.
“I have always known that there is a giant out there in Rangers that is waiting to burst out. There will be good times again, for sure.”
Of course, the build-up to Hampden next Sunday starts now but yesterday it was all about Ricksen who was carried shoulder-high by his team-mates on an emotional day.
McLeish said: “It was great walking out and seeing another powerful moment involving Rangers fans.
“The noise they could make inside this stadium when it’s full. It’s so difficult to get it through your head Rangers aren’t doing well when you see that support.
“It was a brilliant tribute to Fernando, these guys turning out like this and I’ve got to compliment the players turning out too for helping a friend who’s having a bad time.”
Of course the diagnosis of Ricksen 15 months ago has had a massive effect on those who know him well.
De Boer added: “Fernando was so full of spirit and a great fighter as a player and it is very sad when you see him.
“He is getting worse and worse, but the turnout was incredible and it was great to be back at the club.”