Rangers Want 'Full Independent Investigation'
23 May 2016, 06:22 | Updated: 23 May 2016, 06:24
Rangers have reiterated their calls for an investigation in the crowd trouble which marred Saturday's Scottish Cup final after criticising Hibernian chairman Rod Petrie's attempts to downplay the violent scenes at Hampden.
Several Rangers players were assaulted as thousands of Hibernian fans flooded on to the pitch following the Edinburgh club's dramatic 3-2 triumph.
Footage showed Lee Wallace being punched and goalkeeper Wes Foderingham attacked as the celebratory pitch invasion turned ugly.
Dozens of Rangers fans also came on to the pitch and fights broke out between rival supporters, while Hibs fans broke one of the goalposts and ripped up sections of the Hampden turf.
Petrie, who is the vice-president of the Scottish Football Association, put the scenes down to "over-exuberance'' in the immediate aftermath and described them as "unacceptable''.
A club statement later confirmed Hibs would "co-operate fully into any inquiry into the pitch invasion which followed the club's historic Scottish Cup win at Hampden Park''.
However, Rangers have again reacted angrily and in a scathing statement demanded both the SFA and Police Scotland take swift action against those responsible.
It read: "Rangers finds it incomprehensible that no-one, either from within the Scottish FA or Hibernian Football Club, has condemned Hibernian's supporters following the violent scenes at the end of yesterday's Scottish Cup final when Rangers players and members of our backroom staff were physically and verbally assaulted.
"We have not even had the courtesy of any contact whatsoever from Hibernian to ask after the well-being of those who were attacked by their club's supporters.
"There must be a full independent investigation into the shameful scenes at Hampden. Rangers is also at a complete loss to understand why certain individuals have hastily attempted to gloss over the appalling events which unfolded at the end of Saturday's final.
"No matter how many times Hibernian's chairman and Scottish FA vice-chairman, Rod Petrie, and certain other biased commentators wish to play down Saturday's mayhem and violence, the truth must not be distorted.
"What unfolded on Saturday cannot and must not be put down to exuberance. That is a complete insult to Rangers, our supporters, and those individuals who were intimidated and attacked.
"It was clear to most of those who watched in horror that the Scottish FA's security procedures failed when Hibernian's fans went over the top in their thousands.
"It is to be hoped that all of Scottish football will share Rangers' disgust and any attempts to attach blame to our supporters for the disgraceful and violent behaviour, which led to our players and fans fearing for their safety, will not be accepted or tolerated by this club.''
The statement went on to acknowledge that a "tiny majority of Rangers fans also encroached on the pitch but only after having been faced with prolonged and severe provocation''.
The club said it was "preposterous to suggest Rangers fans were somehow to blame, as some commentators appear anxious to do'', adding that the "thuggish behaviour must be investigated and as many culprits as possible brought to book and formally charged''.
It concluded: "So, let everyone be clear on one thing - Rangers demands that players, staff and fans be protected from the violence and hatred of supporters of other clubs.
"Rangers fully expects the Scottish FA and Police Scotland to take action to provide our people with a safe environment. When players are unable to accept medals at the end of a final because of fears for their safety and our supporters are alarmed and extremely concerned for the women and children among them, then surely every step must be taken to ensure that this is never repeated.''
Hibs own statement did add that the club "reiterates its regret at the events which unfolded immediately following the final whistle''.
Rangers players were handed their medals in the dressing room, while Hibs players had a long wait to lift the trophy after the pitch was cleared, with the lap of honour cancelled.
The SFA, along with Police Scotland and stadium managers, have launched an investigation into some of the worst scenes of violence seen inside a Scottish football ground since the 1980 final, when Celtic and Rangers fans battled on the Hampden pitch. The Scottish Government is "liasing closely'' with the inquiry.
Police are collecting CCTV footage and have appealed to spectators who may have information, images or video footage.
Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald said: "An investigation team has now been established at Helen Street Police Office. So far there have been 11 arrests for minor offences.''
He added: "If there are any images or video footage of incidents on the pitch involving violence or disorder, please contact officers at the enquiry team through the non-emergency number 101.
"Alternatively contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where anonymity can be maintained.''