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Rangers ban girl, 16, after flare lit at match

A 16-year-old girl has been handed an indefinite ban by Rangers after a flare was set off during a Scottish Cup match at Falkirk.

DANGER: Flares have been brought into Rangers games, raising concerns over the potential injury they could cause. Picture: SNS Group
DANGER: Flares have been brought into Rangers games, raising concerns over the potential injury they could cause. Picture: SNS Group

The incident, which caused damage to the plastic pitch, happened at Westfield Stadium on Saturday, November 30, during Rangers' 2-0 win in a fourth round replay.

Emma Leslie, 16, of Glasgow, denied two charges, including possessing a flare in a sports ground, during an appearance at Falkirk Sheriff Court last Friday.

On Tuesday, Celtic suspended 128 supporters from home and away matches after seats were wrecked and flares and smoke bombs discharged during Friday night's 5-0 win at Motherwell.

Another 250 season-book ­holders from Section 111 - the area that houses the Green Brigade - will be given the choice of being relocated or having their money refunded.

In the wake of the Westfield incident, Falkirk's general manager David White called for pyrotechnics to be eradicated before they cause serious injury. He said the Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League had to become more involved in combating the issue.

He said there were 95 stewards in attendance and a "sizeable police presence" for the visit of Rangers, but admitted it was not easy for clubs to tackle the problem on their own unless they carried out body searches of every fan on entry.

"You can't individually frisk everybody that comes into the ground," he said. "What really surprised us was when they told us these things burn at 1600°C. So you can imagine the damage that could do if it actually hit someone.

"I think when it becomes flares, it is really becoming a threat to personal injury, and that's something we need to stamp out."

The SFA would not discuss the issue, saying comment should be handled by the SPFL. It is understood the SFA will be looking at pursuing a joined-up education programme in the new year.

A spokesman for the SPFL said: "There has been a small number of isolated, high-profile incidents involving flares over recent weeks and we are working with clubs, the SFA and Police Scotland to tackle the problem head on.

"In collaboration with our ­partners, we are committed to eradicating such behaviour from the Scottish game. It is dangerous and irresponsible and has absolutely no place in our sport."

Police Scotland was ­unavailable for comment.

It has been revealed children as young as eight have been used to smuggle flares into English stadiums.

Research by football governing bodies in England conducted with 1635 Premier League supporters found one-third of fans has been affected by pyrotechnics, 87% believe they are dangerous and 78% say they want more action taken against users.

The English Premier League said a disturbing element of the increased pyrotechnics has been the involvement of children. It said: "It is not uncommon for 'mules' to bring the pyro­technics into a ground on behalf of others, and in one incident at a Premier League match last season a child aged around eight was observed aiding those involved in pyrotechnic use."

The Premier League, Football League and Football Association have launched a supporter education campaign on the danger of pyrotechnics at football grounds and are running adverts in their grounds and in programmes and websites.

Fans south of the Border have been warned they could be jailed for the use of fireworks at matches and are being reminded of their dangers following the death of a 14-year-old boy by a flare during a South American Libertadores Cup match in Bolivia in February.

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