Raith not to blame as Rangers fans bring sectarian shame to Stark’s

Kris Boyd celebates after scoring Rangers' second goal in the 2-1 win over Raith Rovers at Stark's Park last Friday. Pic: George McLuskie
Kris Boyd celebates after scoring Rangers' second goal in the 2-1 win over Raith Rovers at Stark's Park last Friday. Pic: George McLuskie

Raith Rovers have been forced to defend their security protocols following the sectarian singing that took place at Stark’s Park on Friday night.

An SPFL probe was launched this week after its match delegate reported that a section of the travelling Rangers support indulged in “sustained” sectarian chanting during their side’s 2-1 victory.

While Rangers are accountable for the conduct of their fans, Raith, as the host club, are held responsible for safety and security of the event.

The Kirkcaldy club also took the decision to sell away tickets directly to Rangers supporters over the fears surrounding the Ibrox club’s financial position.

However, club chief executive Eric Drysdale told the Press that Rovers did everything by the book and is confident they have no case to answer.

“Without wanting to pre-empt the SPFL match delegates report, I don’t think we have anything to fear,” Drysdale said.

“We prepare for all our games, in particular the games against big opposition, very carefully indeed.

“Our safety officer Bob Farmer is in charge of this and is vastly experienced so a huge amount of preparation goes into it to make sure we do all we are required to do by Police Scotland and the SPFL.

“We are completely satisfied that we prepared fully and professionally for the game on Friday - but if hundreds of supporters are going to indulge in signing we can’t do anything about that on match day.

“All we can do is make sure we have adequate stewarding and police resources in place - which we did. We actually brought in Rangers own security to help steward the McDermid Stand as they know the troublemakers.

“That’s not to say what happened on Friday was acceptable - it absolutely wasn’t - but there are guidelines to follow, and we followed them to the letter, so I don’t envisage that we will face any SPFL charges.”

Drysdale is also part of the SPFL Board and he revealed that it is taking steps to review the rules governing the behaviour of fans at matches.

“The SPFL board recognises that what happened on Friday night and at other recent matches is wholly unacceptable in modern-day Scotland and we are determined to take steps to address this sectarian issue once and for all,” he added.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster also hinted that Rangers will escape punishment for their fans’ sectarian chants in Kirkcaldy, stating: “It remains the SPFL’s position that if it can be established that clubs have done everything required in overall management of the event pre-match, during the game and post-match, then they have no case to answer.”

He also expressed his frustration at the “distasteful, shameful and selfish actions of a mindless minority”.

Police Scotland have confirmed that an 18-year-old was arrested at Stark’s Park under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act. An investigation is ongoing to identify others who were heard singing sectarian songs during the live broadcast of the game last Friday.

Meanwhile, tickets for next Saturday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final in Inverness are on sale from Stark’s Park today (Thursday) or on Tuesday, between 10.00 a.m and 7.00 p.m, along with seats on subsidised supporters buses.

Cash turnstiles will also be in operation on the day of the match (admission £20 adults, £10 concessions), but if you wish to take up the coach travel package, you must also pre-purchase a match ticket.

The home league match against Hearts on Tuesday, March 17 has been made all ticket and these can also be purchased from Stark’s Park today or on Tuesday.

Further details are available on www.raithrovers.net.