Sport Soccer

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Gordon Strachan warns of the danger of a potential Old Firm title clincher

Gordon Strachan
Gordon Strachan

Andy Newport

Gordon Strachan has warned against pairing the Old Firm together in a potential Old Firm title clincher - claiming the possibility for trouble could place Scotland's global reputation at risk.

The wait for the release of the post-split fixtures is set to rumble on into Wednesday as Scottish Professional Football League chiefs continue to hold talks with police bosses and their broadcasting partners.

But it is highly unlikely Celtic - who need just one more win to clinch their seventh straight title - will take on Rangers first up, with Hampden chiefs desperate to avoid a repeat of the kind of violent scenes which marred the Light Blues' 1999 title party at Parkhead.

However, that stance has frustrated Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers, who feels such a box-office duel could provide the league with a much-needed boost by drawing attention from around the world.

Former Celtic manager Strachan is not so sure.

He fears the image of Scottish football - and the country as a whole - could suffer if there was a similar outbreak as took place before last week's Champions League clash between Liverpool and Manchester City, in which the Blues' team bus was attacked with missiles as it approached Anfield.

"I can see where everybody is coming from but we have to send the best image of Scotland out to the world," said the ex-Scotland boss, back at Hampden to preview this Sunday's William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final showdown between the Glasgow giants.

"If the government and police think there could be problems, then you have to take your advice from them.

"They might think it is damaging to Scotland as a whole to show something like that. You hope we're a lot better now but you never know.

"Just look last week at Manchester City going to Liverpool. It wasn't good seeing those scenes before the match. It wasn't good for Liverpool, it wasn't good for the English game.

"You're hoping you wouldn't see those kind of scenes (in Glasgow).

"If everything was great you'd love to see this fixture. We had the Man City-Man United game the other day and that was a great spectacle."

Former Rangers boss Ally McCoist was also at Hampden ahead of this weekend's derby clash and he said he would have no problem with his old side taking on their bitter rivals with the title up for grabs - but only if police chiefs give the powder-keg fixture their blessing.

"There are people far more qualified than me that will make that decision," he said.

"As for me personally? I wouldn't have a problem with it as when it comes to Old Firm games, you could play it at 2am out in the back garden and it would still have the same appeal to me.

"The fact of the matter is that there are people far more qualified than me to talk about it and make decisions on it. Sadly that is the police.

"I don't see everything that goes on around Old Firm games so the correct people to make that decision would be the powers that be and if the police decide the game can get played, I'm happy with it.

"If not and they'd rather play it two weeks later, then I'm also happy with that."

- McCoist and Strachan were both speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.

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