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By ESPN Staff

Gers chief points finger

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain believes the explosive events of Wednesday's Old Firm derby were sparked by the treatment of some of their players in previous meetings with Celtic.

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Ibrox trio Steven Whittaker, Madjid Bougherra and El-Hadji Diouf were all shown red cards in the Scottish Cup replay at Parkhead, which Celtic won 1-0.

Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist and Celtic boss Neil Lennon also had to be separated during an angry exchange after the final whistle of what had been a bad-tempered match.

In a statement released by Rangers, Bain said: "There was indeed increased tension at last night's match between the clubs, mainly as a result of incidents at previous matches where two of our players were the subject of extreme verbal abuse in the tunnel and around the dug-out area at Ibrox.

"Our management team are highly regarded across the football world for their approach to the game.

"Our assistant manager, who is acutely aware of representing Rangers in the best possible way, became embroiled in a situation last night where he acted in the defence of our players.

"He met Neil Lennon again after the match and is now satisfied the Celtic manager is fully aware of his views."

Diouf had previously claimed he was taunted by Lennon and Celtic captain Scott Brown during the initial Scottish Cup tie at Ibrox.

Meanwhile, Bain believes criticism of match officials may have had an impact on the fixture.

Celtic wrote to the Scottish Football Association to seek clarification on decisions made in games against Rangers and Dundee United earlier this season.

Bain said: "The dismissal of three Rangers players and the extraordinary number of bookings we believe is a matter for the Scottish Football Association's disciplinary process.

"We should point out that in recent matches between the two teams the number of bookings and sendings-off has been unremarkable.

"There has been extensive criticism of referees and the SFA this season and we are now questioning the impact of that criticism.

"Refereeing Old Firm matches is an extremely difficult task but the number of bookings last night compared with other recent Old Firm fixtures indicates the match was not controlled in the same way."

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan released a statement earlier on Wednesday where he spoke of referee Calum Murray "being manhandled, while another player who had been dismissed brazenly walked to his own supporters in defiance".

Regan did not name the players involved, but appeared to be making reference to Bougherra and Diouf, and Bain was unhappy with those comments.

He added: "We regret that on one hand the SFA chief executive today said they had launched an investigation into the whole matter and then in the same statement immediately leapt to conclusions on two of our players."


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