Glasgow & West Scotland

Rangers v Celtic matches on Mondays 'could cut trouble'

Gary Hooper of Celtic and David Weir of Rangers
Image caption Business leaders want Old Firm games to be played on Mondays to reduce trouble in Glasgow

Old Firm derby football games should be played on Monday nights as often as possible, business leaders have said.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) claimed it would reduce trouble and limit fans' drinking time.

They also argued that cutting pub opening hours would only lead to more people drinking at home.

The call follows a recent ill-tempered Scottish Cup clash between Celtic and Rangers, described as "shameful".

It culminated in a confrontation between Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Rangers assistant boss Ally McCoist.

There was also disruption off the pitch with more than 30 supporters arrested at Celtic Park in Glasgow.

An Old Firm summit was held in the wake of the game on 2 March and an eight-point action plan agreed.

'Shame game'

On Sunday, the Co-operative Insurance Cup final between the teams at Hampden passed without incident.

However, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said the fall-out from the previous "shame game" would have repercussions beyond the football pitch.

"There has been talk around the issue of kick-off times, and following discussions with our colleagues in the Licensed Trade Association, we have come to the conclusion that Monday evenings would be best for all," he said.

The organisations also urged the Scottish government to show "caution" on the issue of limiting fans' access to alcohol before and after matches.

"It's important that Glasgow's tourism offering isn't adversely affected by visitors being unable to have a refreshment simply because their stay happens to coincide with a Rangers-Celtic match," Mr Patrick added.

Paul Waterson, chief executive of the SLTA, said more matches should be played on midweek evenings, preferably Mondays which are the quietest night of the week.

He said: "Where games have to be at weekends, for example cup finals, the kick-off time should always be 3pm.

"Early kick offs have simply not worked."

Mr Waterson also warned cutting the opening hours of bars would "simply lead to more fans drinking at home."

"The problem is the vast majority of fans who are going to abuse alcohol do so at home anyway," he said.

"We have become a nation of take-home drinkers."

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