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Rangers ordered to close part of Ibrox over sectarian songs

UEFA has taken action after offensive songs were heard in the match against St Joseph's.

A section of Ibrox will be closed for the match against Legia Warsaw.
A section of Ibrox will be closed for the match against Legia Warsaw. SNS Group

UEFA has ordered Rangers to close a section of Ibrox Stadium after ruling that the club's supporters were guilty of singing sectarian songs during a European match.

The governing body has taken action after offensive songs were heard during the Europa League first round qualifier against St Joseph's.

The club was sanctioned for the "racist behaviour" of their fans and now have to close a section of the stadium holding at least 3000 seats for the crucial play-off match against Legia Warsaw next Thursday. Rangers will also have to display a banner with the wording "#equalgame" in the closed section.

UEFA operate a 'strict liability' policy on fan disorder with the rules stating that a partial stadium closure is the minimum punishment for the offence.

Any repeat of the same behaviour in future matches will see a full stadium closure and a fine of €50,000.

In a statement on the club website, a spokesperson said: "Rangers has been ordered by UEFA to close a section of Ibrox Stadium for the return leg of the club's Europa League play-off tie against Legia Warsaw on Thursday, August 29.

"UEFA has ruled that a group of Rangers supporters were guilty of racist behaviour - which includes sectarian singing - during the match against St Joseph's at Ibrox on July 18.

"Our supporters have been asked repeatedly by the club to refrain from indulging in this, and other forms of unacceptable behaviour. Sadly, the warnings have fallen on deaf ears and the actions of this minority will cause the club and the majority of good and decent Rangers supporters to pay a heavy penalty.

"UEFA has ruled that a section, or sections containing no fewer than 3000 seats must be shut off during the club's next European match, which is the home match against Legia Warsaw. The area, or areas to be closed will be announced in due course and the club will do its best to restrict the impact to offending supporters.

"Unfortunately a significant number of supporters, innocent of any wrong doing, will be unable to attend next week's match. This is deeply regrettable to all at the club and we hope that the guilty parties, who attracted the attention of UEFA might reflect on the damage their unacceptable behaviour is causing Rangers and their fellow supporters.

"If any individual supporter is unable to behave in a civilised manner then please stay away from Ibrox and our club. You are harming Rangers and that is something a genuine supporter would never wish to do."

Rangers chairman Dave King said: "Rangers is a club open to all and we will continue to convey this message at every opportunity through our Everyone Anyone initiative.

"Rangers has players and supporters from many religions, cultures and backgrounds but we are one and the same when we gather to support our club. If any supporter cannot accept that then Rangers is not the club for them".

The Europa League tie against Legia is finely balanced after the sides drew 0-0 in Poland on Thursday evening.

At his regular Friday media conference, Steven Gerrard expressed his disappointment at the behaviour and at the team not being able to enjoy the backing of a full house in the match at ibrox.

"I back the statement that the club have made," he said. "It's disappointing when I think about the effect it's going to have on innocent fans who go to the game and behave properly. 

"They're going to miss out on the chance of watching the second leg, which is set up to be an incredible match.

"I'm disappointed.I still think the crowd will be important. Every bit of support we get is going to be helpful and that's the reason why we're disappointed. But the club has made a statement and I back that.

"We've been here before and I hope it's the last time we have questions about fan behaviour. We want fans to go to the game, behave in the right way and get behind the team. That's what being a fan is all about.

"I've dealt with this question before and I'll say it again. We want our supporters to go to the game and get behind the team.

"We've got one of the best fan bases in the world. They follow us in large numbers home and away and they've got a reputation for being the best supporters in the world. When you hear stuff like this it damages the fans' reputation. So all I can do is echo what's being said in the statement and ask fans, plead with fans to behave in the right manner when they come to the stadium.

"The club are working extremely hard. We all are, players, staff, everyone around the club sending a really strong message in the campaign."

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