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Time called on notorious pub Dalglish made famous

ONE of Scotland's best-known football pubs has been forced to shut down after its owners were brought before licensing chiefs over repeated violent incidents, including claims staff cleaned up a crime scene.

LAST ORDERS: Licensing chiefs have closed Bairds Bar, where Kenny Dalglish infamously held a press conference in 2000, after a series of violent incidents.
LAST ORDERS: Licensing chiefs have closed Bairds Bar, where Kenny Dalglish infamously held a press conference in 2000, after a series of violent incidents.

Bairds Bar on Glasgow's Gallowgate, where Celtic's then interim manager Kenny Dalglish infamously held a press conference in 2000, became one of only a handful of bars in the city to have its licence revoked.

Councillors on the licensing board acted after the pub was brought before them three times in less than 18 months after causing problems.

The board heard from police about a serious incident on the day of Scotland's opening World Cup qualifier against Serbia last year, when a man was attacked by other pub-goers at the pool table.

A police report into September's attack revealed several other pub-goers were seen on CCTV jumping on the man as staff watched.

The police said there was a 15-minute delay between the fight and a call being made for an ambulance, while no request was made for police assistance.

The complaint continues: "Enquiries revealed that the bar staff had cleaned up the crime scene prior to police arriving, which as Your Honours will be aware, was similar to an incident detailed in the review before the board in October 2011.

"Glass and a broken bottle neck, which were heavily blood-stained, were found within the bin and although CCTV does not show it being used, the injured male's injuries were consistent with being attacked with a bottle."

The police also said used polythene wraps, suspected of being used for drugs, were found in the toilets during a routine visit. A customer was arrested on another occasion for carrying cocaine following complaints of drug dealing in the bar.

Last year, Bairds received a written warning for a lock-in just months after it had been banned from opening during the day following a series of violent incidents.

It had been ordered to provide extra stewarding whenever Celtic games were taking place, and to serve drinks in toughened glass to reduce injuries, but was accused yesterday of ignoring these conditions.

The move to revoke the licence with immediate effect is one of the few times councils across Scotland have used the power, introduced in late 2009.

The Glaswegian Bar in Tradeston was shut following allegations of sectarian behaviour, intimidation of local residents and council staff inspecting the premises, and ineffectual management.

When Bairds had its licence suspended for a month in 2005, amid allegations of drunken disorder and mismanagement, it was able to remain open after lodging an immediate appeal.

But any appeal against the latest decision, or reapplication, may not take place until after the football season.

Lawyer Niall Hassard, for the pub, said staff had been unaware they were clearing a crime scene, adding: "If there are any future assaults in the bar, staff are in no doubt about what is expected of them.

"For Celtic fans the bar is an institution, not just in Glasgow and Scotland but also across Europe, Australia and America. It's different from what you would find in the west end, but it is a destination venue in the east end and so has a different set of problems."

Inspector Alan Morris said: "We are well beyond the stage of engagement with these premises. It is not the police's job to teach the licensed trade how to run their business. As the CCTV shows, they are inept at best and obstructive at worst."

Board chairman Malcolm Cunning said there had been a pattern of incidents and failures to act by the management. He added: "From the CCTV footage, what I saw was an almost forensic clean-up of the area."

There is no suggestion any offence had been committed by people involved in the clean-up.

In the end, it took less than a minute for the shutters to come down on a pub steeped in decades of footballing history when police entered the premises shortly before 3pm.

"It is 100% unacceptable," said Connor Wilie, 19, one of the half-a-dozen drinkers inside. "Nothing should get shut down. It's been there forever, it is very sad."

Joyce McMullin, 33, said: "Everyone always goes to Bairds. All the people from other countries always go there."

Others whispered approval that a pub known for its boisterous atmosphere on match days would no longer be serving.

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