Cops Warn Old Firm Fans Ahead Of Clash

Police have warned Old Firm fans to be on their best behaviour at the Scottish Cup semi-final this weekend - or risk being banned from matches even if they do not attend the game.

Chief Inspector Stephen Stiff said a "small minority who spoil the occasion for others'' will be targeted on Sunday when Rangers and Celtic meet at Hampden in Glasgow for the first Old Firm game in more than a year.

He said any public place which screens the match is deemed to be a "football ground'' in law and anyone who is subject to a football banning order would be barred.

Anyone who commits an offence which could attract a football banning order while watching the match in a pub could be banned from attending games.

Officers have also visited known domestic abusers ahead of the game as they said history shows a rise in drink-fuelled violence around an Old Firm tie.

Police have been to pubs to "offer safety advice'' and visited ``known violent offenders'' in Dumfries and Galloway who pose a risk of disorder.

Patrols will be stepped up on Sunday, focusing on pubs and the conduct of travelling fans and preventing disorder.

Mr Stiff said: "The game kicks off at 12 noon and will be televised live, and in many licensed premises in Dumfries and Galloway.

"This will be the first meeting of the two teams for some time and has the added pressure of being a cup semi-final. History indicates that there is a rise in alcohol-related violence, including domestic violence, around an Old Firm game and as such we have been proactive in highlighting this to licensees across the region who will be screening the match live this weekend.

"Police Scotland officers have already made visits to licensed premises to remind staff of their licensing conditions and to offer safety advice. Officers on Sunday are fully aware of those premises where the game is being screened and patrols will be directed accordingly.

"We also need local supporters to understand the wider consequences of their actions if becoming involved in football-related disorder.

"Offenders don't necessarily need to attend the game to attract a football banning order if convicted for a football-related offence, and we will assess circumstances closely and pursue all legal avenues to prevent future offending.''

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