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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 4, 2006

Rangers fans warned against sectarianism

Rangers chairman David Murray has warned there will be no hiding from serious punishment if supporters continue to chant sectarian songs.

UEFA have written to the club lawyers following the an Ibrox request for clarification on the judgement on the behaviour of fans during the games against Villarreal last season.

The Light Blues were fined £13,300 by the European governing body for discriminatory chanting during the Champions League ties against the Spanish club earlier this year.

However, in their correspondence, UEFA have underlined a firm stand against any form of sectarianism is not limited to European fixtures and domestic matches will also be considered.

Consequently, Rangers will provide each fan entering Ibrox for the game against Dundee United tomorrow with the 'Wee Blue Book', which will feature a song list agreed between supporters' representatives and the club, a Pride Over Prejudice section, a list of penalties supporters face if they engage in sectarian behaviour and a telephone hotline for fans concerned over sectarian behaviour.

Fans who fail to comply will face the loss of season ticket, lifetime bans or arrest.

And, after avoiding having their ground closed last season as a punishment due to their achievements in combating sectarianism, the Gers owner has appealed to fans to refrain from such chanting.

Murray said: 'There is no doubt whatsoever that the club and the overwhelming majority of supporters are determined to do everything in our power to eradicate this problem.

'The issue of sectarianism in Scotland goes way beyond Rangers and football, but we are fully committed to playing our part.

'There should be no doubt now in supporters' minds that UEFA have made it clear that all forms of sectarian singing - including any version of the `Billy Boys' - are prohibited at domestic and European matches, home and away.

'Whether people think that is right or wrong or whether Rangers have been treated fairly or unfairly, that is the reality of the situation.

'We did ask UEFA for clarification following the fine they imposed and they have responded clearly.

'There is no appeals process. The appeals body determined that sectarian singing had taken place.

'UEFA acknowledged our achievements on sectarianism and that helped us avoid ground closure as a sanction.

'If the minority of supporters do not take that on board, then the club faces further and more serious punishment.

'We have to deal with the situation we are in and the vast majority of Rangers fans are in full agreement that Rangers should not suffer from the actions of a small minority who refuse to accept that sectarian behaviour is prohibited.

'We have done a tremendous amount as a club to address sectarianism.

'There has been progress and we are building on what we have done in the past.

'This is an exciting new era for Rangers on and off the pitch and we must rise to all the challenges we face.'

UEFA have already warned of the dangers facing clubs, whose fans are involved in any discriminatory chanting.

A UEFA statement said: 'Any national association or club whose supporters engage in behaviour which insults the human dignity of a person or group of persons, by whatever means, including grounds of colour, race, religion or ethnic origin will incur a minimum £13,000 penalty.

'In particular circumstances, the disciplinary body may impose additional sanctions on the member association or club responsible, such as the playing of one or more games behind closed doors, a stadium closure, awarding of a match by default, deduction of points or disqualification from the competition.

'Moreover, any form of extremist ideological propaganda is banned before, during, and after games.'