Steven Gerrard: Crowd aggro will deter players from coming to Scotland

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard believes the recent spike in crowd disorder could make it more difficult to persuade players to move to Scotland.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Gerrard is concerned that the wider reputation of Scottish football is being damaged by the high profile incidents which have included missile-throwing and sectarian chanting.

Supporters will come under intense scrutiny again tonight when Hibs and Rangers meet in a Premiership fixture at Easter Road. Both clubs have experienced problems among a section of their followings during the current spate of unsavoury episodes. A bottle was thrown at Celtic winger Scott Sinclair from among the Hibs support during last Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie at Easter Road, while some Rangers fans damaged seats at Pittodrie the following day.

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Gerrard insists the safety of players must be the priority and feels it could have an adverse effect on attempts to recruit new signings from outwith Scotland this summer.

“That’s a possibility,” said Gerrard. “When I talk to players about coming up here, I always say that the games are fantastic in terms of the intensity, the tempo and the supporters. In general, the crowds here are superb.

“I talk to players about going to places like Pittodrie, Celtic Park and Easter Road to play and the Scottish fans are, in the main, excellent. But if these incidents continue or increase, then you could have a problem attracting top players to come here. That could be a factor in their decision making.

“It was disappointing to see what happened at Easter Road last week. We all have a responsibility - managers, staff, players, fans and media - to try and create a positive image of the game in Scotland.

“These games go out worldwide and clips of these instances from the fans, whether it be chants or bottles or coins thrown, it gets shown all over the world. It certainly dents the reputation of the game in Scotland we all have a responsibility to protect that and try and improve the behaviour of the supporters.

“The most important thing is the safety of the players and I don’t want to be sitting talking about someone getting badly hurt or injured. If it continues, that could be the case. A coin getting thrown or a bottle or an object could cause injuries that could last a lifetime.

“But the police in Scotland and the authorities are doing everything they can. The game, in general, is in a decent place here. These are isolated incidents in certain games in recent weeks that paints a picture of a big, giant problem. I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve got trust in the authorities to do everything they possibly can to make sure that these incidents don’t happen at all.”