Police are preparing for two League Cup Semi Finals games at the National Stadium at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
As Hundreds of supporters from Renfrewshire gear up for a great weekend of League Cup football in Glasgow, Police Scotland’s security operation gets underway to keep people safe at the matches, in the city and across the country.
Thousands of football fans are due to descend on Glasgow over the weekend for the games at the National Stadium, Hampden when Dundee United play Aberdeen on Saturday 31st January 2015, kicking off at 3pm and Celtic play Rangers on Sunday 1st February 2015, that game kicking off at 1.30pm.
Scotland’s national police service is advising supporters to plan their travel in order to arrive at the games on time and to behave responsibly so the focus can firmly be on the football.
Officers will be carrying out high-visibility patrols in the city centre and at key transport hubs to help ensure supporters get to and from the match safely. Fans are being reminded that drinking alcohol in public in Glasgow is illegal as is drinking on a coach, minibus or train travelling to the game from anywhere across the country.
Police Scotland is advising supporters to get to know their route to the stadium, plan their journey and get to the ground in plenty of time to avoid congestion.
Additional Police Scotland officers will be on duty in the city and will be patrolling the roads and transport hubs to minimise disruption and congestion on major routes.
Chief Superintendent Andy Bates, the Event Commander, is looking forward to the weekend. He said: “These are significant semi-final matches for all the teams and supporters involved.
“Once again, Glasgow will be the focus of attention with a large number of visitors expected in the city. We’re well-versed in policing high-profile matches and sporting events and we have an appropriate plan in place to ensure the safety of people attending the matches and visiting the city.
“It is our job to ensure that supporters get to and from the game safely and that there is minimum disruption to those who live, work and socialise in the city centre and in and around the stadium.
There is significant interest in the semi finals, in particular Sunday’s fixture which is the first game between Celtic and Rangers in three years. Acknowledging this, Ch Supt Bates said: “These two semi finals bring together four teams that are great rivals and I am sure that most supporters will enjoy the sporting occasion, however, a minority may choose to cause disorder and my message to them is clear, anyone involved in disorder will be arrested”.
As is customary for any major event, there will be extra officers on the ground, before, during and after the game targeting the small minority intent on causing problems. Describing the policing operation Ch Supt Bates said:
“This is an intelligence-led operation with officers deployed to identify and engage with potential trouble makers and disrupt their activities. There will be a highly visible police presence to ensure the safety of people attending the games and visiting the city and to deal quickly with any disorder.
“One of the main issues for police is supporters drinking to excess. If you are going to drink before or after the match, do so responsibly.
“It is an offence to enter or even attempt to enter the stadium whilst drunk and both Police and stewards will be looking out for anyone who is drunk or intent on causing disruption.”
Officers will also be monitoring social media for any offensive comments. Ch Supt Bates said: “In 2013/14 nine people were convicted of various football-related online offences with one person being sent to prison for 12 months for a racial BOP and drug offences after making an offensive comment about footballers.
“So far, in 2014/15, four people have also been reported to the Procurator Fiscal for a number of religious and racial offences.
Ch Supt Bates, who was in charge the last time Celtic played Rangers at Hampden in 2011, is looking forward to the semi final weekend. He said:
“We had a superb year policing major sporting events in 2014 and the semi-final weekend provides yet another opportunity to showcase Glasgow on the world stage. Together we can make sure that football is the story in Monday’s newspapers, not the behaviour of a minority of so-called fans.”
Police Scotland will be working closely with British Transport Police and other partners. Chief Inspector David Gray, who is leading the British Transport Police operation for this weekend’s semi-finals at Hampden, said:
“British Transport Police (BTP) is well-used to transporting large numbers of spectators to football and other sporting events from all over the country every week and these matches will be policed in the same way. Officers have been planning in partnership with Police Scotland colleagues and train operator ScotRail to ensure the thousands of supporters, from as far north as Aberdeen, can reach Hampden safely and securely.
BTP is warning that any alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.
Chief Inspector Gray added: “Supporters of all teams should be aware that there are alcohol restrictions in place on many train services during Saturday and Sunday. These will be enforced by BTP to ensure all passengers can travel without encountering any sort of anti-social behaviour. It’s really not worth risking not seeing what promises to be a great match just because you may have drank too much and everyone is urged to respect the other passengers on the train who may not be travelling to or from Glasgow to see a match.”
Police Travel advice
Travel directions and stadium entry restrictions can be found on the Police Scotland website www.scotland.police.uk.
Aberdeen and Rangers Support: There are designated routes for coaches for entry to and from the stadium via Battlefield and private vehicles are asked to use on-street parking at the west side of the stadium. Limited paid parking is available within the Queens Park Recreational Ground.
Dundee United and Celtic Support: There are designated routes for coaches for entry to and from the stadium via Polmadie and private vehicles are asked to use on-street parking at the east side of the stadium. Limited parking is available in the car park at Aikenhead Road.
Parking is controlled by a temporary traffic regulation order (coned areas). On street parking should only be utilised out with restricted areas as a tow-away scheme is in operation for illegally parked vehicles. As a result, there is limited parking available in the vicinity of the stadium; supporters are encouraged to travel via train where possible.
Please note that restrictions are in place for the sale and carrying of alcohol on certain trains. Please visit www.scotrail.co.uk for further information. Aberdeen and Rangers supporters using rail services should travel via Mount Florida station. Dundee United and Celtic supporters using rail services should travel via Kings Park station.
Sport Grounds and Alcohol
It is an offence:
To enter the sports ground if you are in possession of any pyrotechnic device including flares, fireworks, pellets etc (matches/cigarette lighters are not included).
To attempt to enter the sports ground with a controlled container (any bottle, can or other portable container whether open or sealed) or alcohol either prior to, during or after the game. This is also the case inside the arena or in the surrounding area.
To be drunk within or to attempt to enter whilst drunk a sports stadium or surrounding area.
To be in possession of alcohol or be drunk aboard a coach, mini-bus, public service vehicle or railway vehicle taking you to a designated sporting event. The driver, keeper, employee or person hiring the vehicle on which alcohol is being carried also commits an offence.
Note: Police checks on buses/coaches and mini buses travelling to these games will be undertaken at numerous locations prior to the event.
To drink alcohol or be in possession of an open container which contains alcohol in a public place.
To use threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or who displays written material likely to stir up racial or sectarian hatred is guilty of an offence.