Ally McCoist has urged Rangers supporters to avoid a sectarian own goal that could ruin any championship challenge next season.

The Ibrox assistant manager helped launch the club's latest initiative to eradicate sectarian behaviour, a response to new legislation empowering the Scottish FA and, ultimately, the Scottish Premier League to deduct points for unacceptable crowd behaviour.

Follow with Pride supersedes the Pride over Prejudice campaign that has helped re-educate supporters over the past five years. Rangers are determined to avoid costly domestic punishment after being sanctioned by European football's governing body for two separate incidents in the past two seasons. They were fined £13,300 for crowd trouble in the Champions League tie against Villarreal and punished again for sectarian chanting against Osasuna in Pamplona last season.

McCoist has experienced a radical improvement in crowd behaviour in his second spell at the club, but has warned fans to avoid handicapping Rangers' title challenge against their Old Firm adversaries and recent superiors, Celtic.

"If we finished so many points behind Celtic last season, the last thing we want to do is starting to give points away," McCoist said. "That's the nightmare scenario, giving away points that could cost us the league. It goes without saying that it has been hard enough for us in recent seasons."

McCoist was joined by the club captain, Barry Ferguson, the security and operations manager, Kenny Scott, and Sandy Jardine to promote the new initiative. While neither the SPL nor the SFA have given a detailed explanation of unacceptable' songs or chants, the Rangers' representatives have urged a commonsense approach by their fans after the recent warnings from UEFA.

"Since I played, things have improved 10-fold and I think the club deserves enormous credit for that," McCoist said.

"I think the Rangers fans are intelligent enough to know what is acceptable and to sing songs that are reasonable and not intended to alienate people. The key is to make Ibrox and intimidating place, but without sectarianism. I think to a certain degree we lost that in terms of atmosphere last season, partly because supporters didn't know what to sing."

Celtic continue to dissuade their away support from politically-motivated songs, such as Boys of the Old Brigade, but maintain the lyrics are not of a sectarian nature. A section of Aberdeen fans, meanwhile, have glorified the Neil Simpson challenge that almost wrecked Ian Durrant's career. McCoist, in this respect, has called for even-handedness across the spectrum of SPL clubs.

"I am not going to single out any team or individuals, but I expect every team to be treated the same way," he said. "Whether it is sectarian or offensive, it has to be dealt with the same way. I think 99% of the fans are aware, it's not rocket science. People know when they are crossing the line.

"The UEFA punishments are as good an indication as you can get. From my point of view, I want to see Rangers in the limelight across Europe for the right reasons, not for their punishments. It is a little bit of a concern that it has not been the case in recent years."

He does not believe the renewed focus may sterilise one of world football's most intense and enduring rivalries to the point of tedium and even acclaimed Celtic fans for their recent good-humoured jibes across the city.

"Nobody has taken more stick than myself, but if it's good natured then it's fine," he said. "There is no comparison between the Old Firm games I played in. There was a problem back then, no question, but things are a helluva lot better. Recently, we have had Celtic fans throwing beach balls on the pitch: that's a great wind-up. There's no nastiness attached and, if it's funny, I'm all for it."

Jardine, who played with distinction throughout the 1960s and 70s, offered a stark chronicle of the changing attitudes of Rangers and its supporters.

"When I came here in 1964, we had no Catholics," he said. "Not just the playing staff, anywhere. There was no bit of paper, it was an unwritten rule. David Murray changed that and it moved on significantly in 1989 when Maurice Johnston signed. You cannot clear up 80 years of sectarianism in eight months, but we are a huge way down the road."