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red cards for Neil and Ally

The alcohol-fuelled trouble at Old Firm games (remember them?) is down to Neil Lennon and Ally McCoist.

Faced with clamp-downs on pubs near football grounds, Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), says: "The players and managers are part of the problem here."

Waterson is right. Many a time and oft on the Gallowgate just before kick-off at Celtic Park I have observed this Lennon fellow standing outside pubs when he should be up at the stadium giving his team talk.

Lennon drags the supporters unwillingly into bars. "Fill yer boots, lads and lasses," he says. "Drink until you're incapable. Get a carry-out for going up the road. Urinate up a close. Throw a half-eaten greaseburger and chips into a garden. If you've got time how about a wee breach of the peace or maybe a sectarian-aggravated assault." Giorgios Samaras will help his boss by urging Sellik fans to get fired up with an ouzo or three.

It's the same over on the Paisley Road as Ally incites fans to have a right good swally on the way to Ibrox. "Remember, we don't do walking past pubs," he says. So it's not the hooligan supporters' fault. It is Neil and Ally who do it and run away.

The SLTA chief says pubs face match-day closures as part of the fall-out from a game between Celtic and Rangers two years ago when three players were sent off and both managers squared up to each other. Again you can see where the footballers were at fault. Fans whose post-match plans had no doubt been to make their way peacefully home, have their tea and stay in to watch Strictly Come Dancing with the wife suddenly changed tack.

They declared: "In the light of three players being red-carded and messrs Lennon and McCoist being involved in a minor scuffle, I have no option but to repair to the pub, get blootered and afterwards indulge in frankly provocative behaviour which may include violence."

Some fans often find themselves dragged at gun point into off-licence premises and forced to buy bottles of potent cheap wine and cans of strong lager.

The polis should bear in mind these pressures on excessively inebriated supporters. Huckle them gently into Black Marias and remove them from the vicinity of the stadium.

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