A decision to hold the next Old Firm game of the season on Hogmanay has been described as “absolutely unbelievable”. The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) today confirmed Rangers will play Celtic at Ibrox on 31 December. The game is scheduled to kick off at 12.15pm.
But the Scottish Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said the decision to hold the match on one of the busiest days of the year for Police Scotland was “ridiculous”. Police made just one arrest in the stadium during last Saturday’s clash between the two sides at Celtic Park. But there has been controversy over banners and effigies displayed by the Celtic fans and damage done to the stadium’s toilets by Rangers supporters. Calum Steele, general secretary of the SPF, said: “There are so many reasons why this is a ridiculous decision. “People are already taking on more alcohol because of the festivities and there’s a heavier demand on the police. It’s also likely that people will not be facing work the next day or for the next couple of days. “The ordinary Hogmanay events taking place across the country will already have police resources stretched. It’s going to make for a very long and uncomfortable day for police officers.”
Scottish Conservative sport spokesman Brian Whittle added : “Most people will find this surprising from a safety and sporting point of view. “Everyone knows the challenges surrounding Old Firm matches, and lumping that in with the most drink-fuelled night of the year is baffling.” A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “The match will be policed appropriately.”