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Police brief Old Firm players ahead of final

Co-operative Insurance Cup final
Venue: Hampden Park Date: Sunday, 20 March Kick-off: 1500 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Scotland and online at the BBC Sport Scotland website, commentary on BBC Radio Scotland 810 MW, and highlights online

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist (left) and Celtic manager Neil Lennon

Tempers fray in Old Firm Cup tie

Celtic and Rangers players have been briefed on their responsibilities by a senior police officer ahead of the Co-operative Insurance Cup final.

It follows an ill-tempered Scottish Cup clash between them earlier this month.

Match Commander Chief Superintendent Andy Bates spoke to Rangers at their Murray Park training ground.

He then went on to Celtic's Lennoxtown complex in the afternoon, after which Bates said that both teams wanted to concentrate on playing football.

But he warned supporters heading for Hampden Park on Sunday: "While we will be doing everything we can to make sure that the game takes place in a relaxed, friendly manner, I have to stress that anyone who uses this match as an excuse to sing sectarian songs, become violent or abuse their partner will be arrested.

"We will be pushing for football banning orders in as many situations as we can.

"Football should be a celebration of sport and of Scotland's best talent.

With the greatest respect, he probably didn't say anything we didn't already know

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist

"Anyone who breaks the law must not be allowed to be a part of that celebration in the future."

Three red cards were show to Rangers players during their 1-0 Scottish Cup replay defeat and a confrontation at the final whistle between assistant manager Ally McCoist and Celtic manager Neil Lennon led to touchline bans for both men.

With 30 supporters arrested at Celtic Park and statistics showing a rise in domestic abuse at the time of Old Firm games, a Scottish Government summit was held with the Glasgow clubs.

An eight-point action plan included supporting new measures to reduce alcohol consumption before and after games and the expansion of community partnerships between the two clubs.

Now Bates has outlined to players their roles as role models and stressed the importance of the Scottish Football Association regulations on players' celebrations.

"I have met with both teams and all they want to concentrate on is doing their job and winning the match," he said.

"They don't want to be reading headlines about arrests, violence or domestic abuse any more than I do.

Gers ponder goalkeeper choice

"These are headlines that shame us all and it is time for this type of behaviour to stop."

McCoist appeared to feel there was little need for the interjection.

"We had a very relaxed discussion with the chief super and he was fantastic," said Rangers' assistant.

"We just sat the boys down and we had a good blether.

"With the greatest respect, he probably didn't say anything we didn't already know.

Mjallby pleased with Samaras deal

"But if it was a gentle reminder that everybody needed then it has been delivered and delivered very, very well.

"Hopefully that will be a great success and Sunday's cup final should go off okay."

While McCoist will be able to be on touchline at Hampden because he has appealed against his ban, Celtic will be led out by Johan Mjallby in Lennon's absence.

The Celtic assistant played down the prospect of police intervening directly if there is further trouble at Hampden on Sunday.

"I don't expect anything to happen," he said. "Obviously they want to stamp their authority on things, which is their right.

"But, right now, we are just thinking about our team."

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CIS Cup results

30 Jan 2011 23:59 UK

see also
Celtic 1-2 Rangers (aet)
20 Mar 11 |  Scottish Cups
Old Firm bosses face tough decisions
19 Mar 11 |  Scottish Cups
Chick Young's cup final preview
18 Mar 11 |  Scottish Cups
Lennon makes his mark at Celtic
18 Mar 11 |  Scottish Cups
Weir experience key for Gers
18 Mar 11 |  Scottish Cups
Rangers' Bartley out of cup final
18 Mar 11 |  Rangers
SFA pursues eight-game Lennon ban
17 Mar 11 |  Celtic
Rangers will contest McCoist ban
16 Mar 11 |  Rangers
Thomson to referee Old Firm final
07 Mar 11 |  Scottish Cups
Rangers 2-1 Motherwell
30 Jan 11 |  Scottish Cups
Aberdeen 1-4 Celtic
29 Jan 11 |  Scottish Cups


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