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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Gold urges fan calm
Referee Hugh Dallas receives treatment at Celtic Park
Referee Hugh Dallas was struck by a coin in 1999
Scottish Premier League chairman Lex Gold has urged fans not to let the row over the final Old Firm date of the season spill over into crowd disorder.

Gold welcomed Celtic's decision to withdraw their request for the match to be moved from the scheduled 27 April.

But he was also conscious that Celtic chief executive Ian McLeod had warned that his club's fans could approach that date with a sense of grievance into a match to be broadcast on BBC television, with a 1230 BST kick-off.

"This game will be shown live throughout the UK and worldwide," said Gold.

"Everyone involved, from players to fans, has an excellent opportunity to ensure the game is a fantastic advertisement for Scottish football and that, afterwards, we are talking about it for all the right reasons.

The over-riding factor in scheduling any match has been ensuring public safety
SPL chairman Lex Gold
"We warmly welcome the statement from Celtic, which recognises the basis upon which the original decision to schedule the match on 27 April was made.

"After the unfortunate events of 2 May 1999, the over-riding factor in scheduling any match has been ensuring public safety and we fully endorse the comments made today by Celtic that all fans should refrain from any inappropriate behaviour."

Referee Hugh Dallas was cut on the head by a coin thrown during the infamous 1999 match at Celtic Park, when Rangers clinched the league title.

The SPL and Strathclyde Police have since vowed not to allow an Old Firm game to be a championship decider.

It led to the choice of 27 April being chosen this season as that is the only match remaining when leaders Rangers could not arithmetically make sure of the crown.

Celtic complained that such a choice was unfair as it was only three days after their Uefa Cup semi-final second leg in Portugal against Boavista.

McLeod had responded angrily last week, saying that "there will now be genuine and extremely serious safety concerns surrounding this match because of the perceptions of bias and inequality".

Now, however, a statement on Celtic's website takes a more placatory line.

While stressing that there remained a "sporting inequality", it added: "The club strongly urges all of its supporters to respect the decision that has been taken to play the match on 27 April and, regardless of the final score, to refrain from any behaviour that would bring the good name of Celtic Football Club and its supporters into disrepute."

Celtic fans president Peter Rafferty
"We believe it is a bad decision"



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