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McCoist defends call to name SFA panel but warns against 'giving in to lunatic fringe'

Ally McCoist yesterday stood by his call for SFA judicial panel members to be named but said that Scottish football should never give in to the "lunatic fringe" who try to threaten and intimidate.

Ally McCoist insists his statement was not an apology
Ally McCoist insists his statement was not an apology

Police gave security advice to the SFA after threats were made against the three men who ruled Rangers should be fined £160,000 and banned from signing players for a year. Raith Rovers director Eric Drysdale, Gary Allan QC and former journalist Alistair Murning were all warned to be vigilant after threats and malicious calls were made. Rangers have appealed.

The threats came within hours of McCoist's call for the anonymous panel members to be named. He then issued a statement on Thursday, but yesterday moved to clarify that he had not intended to sound apologetic. "I stand by everything," said McCoist, speaking ahead of tomorrow's Old Firm game at Parkhead. "A lot of people have actually misinterpreted the statement I made as an apology. It was anything but an apology.

"We keep talking about transparency and openness and I think that is a must. Once we start giving in to the lunatic fringe then we'd be as well just packing up our bags. I do appreciate we have all got a responsibility, of course I do, I'm not stupid. But if we for a minute give in to this, then it's absolute madness. People hiding behind computers and all that stuff? Do me a favour. You know it and I know it: these people are absolute numpties to a man or a woman and we shouldn't be giving them any time of the day."

"I don't have any problem with the guys on the panel. I have a problem with their decision, but absolutely no problem with the guys at all. I realise the SFA have a job to do. They are an organisation that, without doubt, do their level best. I'm just hopeful that common sense will prevail with the appeal."

On another day when even a derby was overshadowed by the latest developments in Rangers' financial mess, including the submission of a joint takeover bid by the Blue Knights and Brian Kennedy, McCoist said he understood there was a "moral" need for Rangers to be punished, but that both Old Firm clubs were "special cases" and excessive penalties could end up having consequences which damaged the entire Scottish game.

"Fans of other clubs can say, 'we don't care, send them down'. That might be right but it's not going to help our game. So we all have a problem. Do we do the right thing or do we do the right thing for the game? Everyone has their own opinion. [Punishing Rangers severely] might be the right thing to do morally, but is it the right thing for Scottish football? Obviously not.

"In an ideal world, whatever the punishment should be, that should be it. But Scottish football is not an ideal world. These fans [wanting Rangers in the third division] thankfully won't get their wish. Rangers and Celtic are special cases, whether we like that or not, because they are the main two clubs, by far."

McCoist will join Sandy Jardine in meetings with the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund, but he stopped short of saying that he would automatically endorse a decision to boycott away games against clubs perceived to have acted against Rangers' interests in the disciplinary process.

"The fans have supported us unbelievably well. The least we can do is show them a bit of solidarity and support back, which we will do. I don't think for a minute we will agree with everything they want to do but I would go with an open mind. I am not for a minute saying 'right, boycott this or that, boycott away matches or sponsors. What I will say is that we will sit down with the fans and give them a sympathetic ear."

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