St Johnstone Ban Banners And Flags From Celtic Match

Flags and banners are to be banned from an upcoming football match over concerns they are being used to cover up the lighting of flares and smoke bombs.

The decision was taken for the St Johnstone v Celtic match on Boxing Day in Perth after discussions between the clubs and police. 

It follows a spate of trouble involving flares and smoke bombs at Scottish football grounds. 

A reported £10,000 of damage was caused to seats in a section housing Celtic fans during the away match against Motherwell earlier this month and two green smoke bombs were thrown on to the pitch. 

A flare was thrown from the Rangers support after their win at Falkirk on November 30, damaging the pitch, and a smoke bomb was thrown from the Motherwell support during their defeat by Albion Rovers on the same day. 

A host of people have been arrested in connection with the incidents. 

Flags and banners will be banned from McDiarmid Park on Thursday. 

Flares and smoke bombs are always banned from stadiums and police said people caught using them face spending part of the festive season in custody. 

A statement from St Johnstone read: ``Supporters will be aware that, regrettably, there has been a significant increase in the letting off of flares, smoke bombs and other pyrotechnics at games across the country this season. 

``These are inherently unsafe not only for those around the devices but also for spectators in general, particularly those who suffer from breathing disorders. They also have the potential to set seats alight and cause flags to burn. St Johnstone FC and Celtic FC fully support Police Scotland in their attempts to eradicate this nuisance from our game and as part of the planning process for this match between the three parties and other agencies, and as there have been several instances of flags being used as cover for the igniting of these devices, a decision has been taken that for this specific fixture, flags and banners will not be permitted inside McDiarmid Park.`` 

There will be checks on supporters' buses travelling to the match, police said. Match commander Superintendent Kevin Lynch said: ''The police and both clubs expect everyone to enjoy the occasion in the right way and abide by the law, as well as the ground regulations. We will be on hand to assist them where required and, where necessary, to deal effectively with anyone who is involved in disorder or other criminal behaviour. 

''Those attending the game, as well as the local community, can rest assured that we will deal effectively with any incidents and put offenders before the courts. 

``That could mean a spell in custody for offenders at a time when I am sure they would prefer to be with friends and family. So please come along and enjoy the game in the right way. 

''We look forward to an entertaining afternoon and hope that everyone who attends enjoys the contest between the sides in a good-natured and enthusiastic way where everyone is safe and remembers the game for all the right reasons.``