Old Firm policing cost £2.4 million

POLICING the seven Old Firm football fixtures last year cost the taxpayer £2.4 million, new figures have revealed.

Figures obtained using freedom of information legislation show that Rangers and Celtic paid just 301,263 of the 1.968m cost of staging games at Ibrox and Parkhead.

The Old Firm cup final at Hampden in March cost Strathclyde Police a further 412,216, although the Scottish Football League, which organised the competition, was only billed for 35,905.

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However, Campbell Corrigan, Strathclyde's assistant chief constable, said if trouble surrounding the fixture continued at its current level the funding arrangements would need to be reviewed.

He said: "We will, as a police service, have to ask the question: 'Does the community want us to spend this amount of money on that single event?'"

The figures only take into account the cost of policing in and around football stadia.

Meanwhile, Celtic manager Neil Lennon yesterday revealed all top-flight clubs had been visited by police officers before the new season kicks off this weekend to warn they face arrest for violent behaviour on the pitch.

Lennon was involved in a touchline fracas with Rangers coach Ally McCoist during a cup tie. He added: "Players have been warned about serious foul play, and we have been told there is a level of behaviour we have to adhere to in the technical area.

"Players know where they stand now. Some police have also said they would step in if there's a spitting incident, a headbutting incident or punching incident and they may even step in and arrest players."