Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster says she cannot rule out closing sections of the East Stand at Easter Road after the club were embarrassed by fan behaviour for the second successive home game.
A glass bottle was thrown towards Celtic winger Scott Sinclair during last Saturday’s Scottish Cup defeat and there was another serious incident at the ground during last night’s 1-1 league draw with Rangers when a supporter jumped over the advertising boards to confront Ibrox captain James Tavernier, despite the fact an additional 50 stewards had been drafted in.
Asked if she would consider shutting down the part of the stadium where the trouble originated, Dempster replied:
“I think this is a challenge for the whole game but we are in the middle of it, but I don’t think anything is off the table, to be honest.
“Instead of talking about a good game of football we are talking about an idiot – again. So nothing can be off the table. Given everything we have talked about and what has been said and written in the past six days I find it astonishing I have to sit here and talk about another incident. I was going to call him a supporter but I don’t think you can call people like that supporters.
“To come on to the pitch and confront a player... I can use the word unacceptable but that isn’t strong enough. The person you saw is in custody, where he should be as far as I’m concerned, and he won’t come to another football match at Easter Road. Ever.”
Dempster said she had apologised to Tavernier on behalf of the club and the Ibrox boss Steven Gerrard said they had accepted that but added that things had now gone too far.
“When we’re getting to the stage with fans running on to pitch, we’ve got a problem,” the Rangers manager said. ‘That’s for Hibs and their security team to address. There’s nothing I can do to stop them. But if it’s in someone’s head that they’re going to run on the pitch, [there’s] not much you can do to stop it.”
The incident simply added to the Rangers manager’s disappointment on a night when his team failed to capitalise on their first-half superiority and blew the chance to apply pressure on league leaders Celtic. They led through a first-half goal from Daniel Candeias but Florian Kamberi equalised for Hibs with 14 minutes remaining. “Maybe it [the title] was already out of reach. I don’t know,” added Gerrard.
“You can get away with a performance like this once a season, twice if you’re lucky. But when you are chasing a team who have won seven trophies out of the last seven, you can’t have five or six like this. Good teams don’t let you get away with that.”