East Stirling ‘sorry’ for Ibrox disaster comments

A FOOTBALL club has issued an apology to Rangers for one of its youth team players making “grossly offensive” remarks online about the Ibrox disaster.

East Stirlingshire FC’s chairman expressed “deep regret” for the distress caused by the under-19 player’s social networking posts.

The player, understood to be Brett Molloy, is now the subject of disciplinary procedures and police are also looking into the case.

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The Ibrox disaster claimed 66 lives on January 2 1971 when fans were crushed on stairway 13 of the stadium at the end of an Old Firm game.

Rangers said it is “truly abhorrent that anyone could see fit to mock such a tragedy”.

An apology issued by East Stirlingshire chairman Tony Ford has been published on his club’s website.

“I have been contacted by a number of people regarding posts made on social networking sites by one of our under-19 youth team players and I would like to thank those people for bringing this matter to my attention,” it read.

“Having read these comments I share your sense of shock and revulsion. Furthermore, I am horrified that a player connected with our club can express such opinions. I am sure all Shire supporters will join me in condemning these words.

“On behalf of everyone at East Stirlingshire Football Club I would like to apologise for the actions of this individual.

“As chairman of the club I would like to express deep regret for the distress these words will have caused the families of those who lost their lives in the Ibrox disaster. I would like to say sorry to all Rangers supporters for the grossly offensive nature of the descriptions used.

“And I would also like to apologise to the officials, staff, coaches and players of Rangers Football Club, who we have spent this season building warm and cordial relations with.

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“The player concerned has already been spoken to by club staff and has been told he will be the subject of a disciplinary procedure which will begin today. I will not prejudge this but I believe the individual concerned understands the possible implications and potential outcomes.”

All of the club’s players were spoken to about the use of social networking sites at the start of the season, Mr Ford said.

“In the almost 18 months I have been chairman I, and the rest of the board, have worked extremely hard to make East Stirlingshire a welcoming club for everyone. We have participated willingly and positively in initiatives to combat sectarianism, bigotry and hate.

“A main aim has been to try and use football to promote community, harmony and tolerance. Coming to a Shire match is a social experience above all and many who have participated in that have commented how much like a family the Shire support is.

“I know I speak for the entire board of directors when I say we are proud to be a fan-owned and fan-run club. Likewise, I know my fellow directors are saddened and ashamed by these recent events which have brought no credit to the supporters, coaches and playing staff of our club. To those people too we owe an apology.”

The statement was replicated on The Rangers FC website.

A foreword to the statement from the Glasgow club stated: “East Stirlingshire have issued a full apology to Rangers Football Club following sickening posts made by one of their club’s teenage players on a social networking site about the Ibrox disaster.

“The 1971 disaster, in which 66 people died, resonates deeply with all Rangers supporters and it is truly abhorrent that anyone could see fit to mock such a tragedy.

“Rangers condemns the sickening comments made and we note East Stirlingshire have issued a swift apology to everyone connected to the club.”

Strathclyde Police said they are investigating.

“We can confirm that a complaint has been received and inquiries are ongoing,” a force spokeswoman said.