Hogmanay Old Firm Game "Baffling"

14 September 2016, 19:48

A decision to hold the next Old Firm game on Hogmanay has been branded "baffling''.

The Scottish Professional Football League confirmed the Rangers v Celtic fixture is set to kick off at 12.15pm on December 31.

The game is one of several Scottish Premiership matches taking place that day but the timing has drawn criticism.

Scottish Conservative sport spokesman Brian Whittle said: "Most people will find this surprising from a safety and sporting point of view.

"Everyone knows the challenges surrounding Old Firm matches and lumping that in with the most drink-fuelled night of the year is baffling.''

Police made one arrest at Celtic Park on Saturday in the first Old Firm league clash for four years but banners and effigies apparently displayed by Celtic fans have caused controversy, as has damage to the Celtic stadium toilets.

Rangers declined to comment on the fixture concerns.

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins, Police Scotland's strategic lead on football, said: "The time and date of the next Old Firm fixture was decided after discussions between ourselves, football authorities and broadcasters.

"We believe this is the best option in terms of the needs of the interested parties and minimising the wider community impact.

"Planning has already started in terms of the policing of the fixture and again will involve a multi-agency partnership approach.''