‘Perfect storm’ of violence looming around Old Firm clash, police warn

A total of 1,000 extra police officers are to be put on the streets this weekend to combat a predicted surge in violence around the Old Firm clash.

Rangers and Celtic are to meet for the seventh and final time this season at Ibrox on Sunday.

Scotland’s top police officer has already warned the crunch game, alcohol and sunshine were creating a “perfect storm”.

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Strathclyde Police Chief Constable Stephen House predicted that violence, including rape and domestic abuse, will surge this weekend.

And Strathclyde Police safer communities superintendent Derek Robertson said: “It’d be wrong for us not to plan and prepare for this to make sure the public are kept safe, so with that in mind – and it’s a holiday weekend and it’s going to be sunny and there’s a number of other factors – we’ve put an extra 1,000 officers on the streets in our communities to keep the people safe.”

Police voiced concerns as detectives hunt for whoever sent parcel bombs to Celtic manager Neil Lennon, Paul McBride QC and former MSP Trish Godman.

Officers said the packages were “designed to cause real harm to the person who opened them”.

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Mr House said the “full weight” of Strathclyde Police was going into catching whoever is responsible.

Speaking ahead of the game, Lennon said the threats would not stop him from managing the Parkhead club.

He said: “I’ve had this for 10 years but I don’t want to say you get used to it, because you never do.

“It’s been with me during my time as a player, my time as a coach and my time as a manager. But it is not going to deter me from doing what I want to do.

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“For me this is the greatest privilege in my life, to manage this football club, and the support I’ve had from the fans and my close family and friends has been my strength.”

His Rangers counterpart Walter Smith said the parcel bomb threat was a new low in the history of the Old Firm rivalry.

Smith, who first joined Rangers 25 years ago, said: “In the 20 years I’ve been involved, and being from the west of Scotland, I’ve never known a week quite like this. It’s sad.”