Rangers manager Steven Gerrard fires back at Celtic over Covid-19 ban process

Steven Gerrard has hit back at Celtic counterpart John Kennedy over the ongoing debate regarding SFA punishments for Rangers stars breaking Covid-19 protocols.

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard and Celtic counterpart John Kennedy. Picture: SNS
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard and Celtic counterpart John Kennedy. Picture: SNS

The Ibrox boss insists the five players who broke lockdown rules – including first-team stars Nathan Patterson, Bongani Zungu and Calvin Bassey – were punished appropriately by the club.

He also queried why the Scottish FA came down so hard on the players when they didn’t do the same to Celtic upon their return from a winter training camp in Dubai, where defender Christopher Jullien and another unnamed star contracted the virus.

This comes after Kennedy hit out at the SFA after the appeal hearing for the five players, also including youth goalkeeper Brian Kinnear and loanee Dapo Mebude, was set for after next weekend’s Scottish Cup clash between the two Old Firm rivals at Ibrox.

The caretaker boss at Parkhead wasn’t impressed that Rangers had decided to appeal the six-match bans (two of which were suspended) on account of the impact it could have on the young player’s careers.

Gerrard responded at Friday’s press conference: “We don't control when the hearings are held, I agree with John on the inconsistencies from the SFA. I feel his pain, if I was John I’d be frustrated if good players were available to play against my team.

“We were really strong with our punishments for the lads. I don't see any consistency with the outcome of the bans compared to previous situations, in Dubai social distancing rules were clearly broken & nothing was done. It seems as if the SFA are guessing with punishments.”

This comes less than 24 hours after Kennedy had his say on the situation, speaking at Celtic’s press conference ahead of this weekend’s match against Livingston.

He said: “Steven’s got his reasons to do that and say it but our players are talented. We paid money for them and have high hopes for them.

"Look at the Bolingoli situation. Yes, he broke the law and he was harshly punished for it and rightly so.

“We’re not defending that but it was a massive setback in terms of his career at Celtic. That’s the punishment for stepping out of line.

“Regardless of how talented or valuable the player may be, there comes a punishment when you step out of line. We’ve been dealt with harshly in the past and had to accept that.

“This is only my opinion and I’m not just saying this because it’s Rangers. Aberdeen were dealt with in the same manner as ourselves when their players were involved in their situation.

“Our players are talented. They’ve been punished. It’s the same difference.

“It should be very clear in terms of how you deal with situations like this. Regardless of the player – how talented, how valuable he is – there comes a punishment when you step out of line in these situations.

“We’ve been dealt with harshly in the past and had to accept it and we have to wait and see what comes Rangers’ way.”

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