THE Scottish Government's plans to tackle sectarianism ran into fresh controversy last night after it emerged Rangers fans have been told they will not be arrested for singing Loyalist anthem The Sash.

Supporters’ groups met police and club officials this week to discuss acceptable singing during games at Ibrox and were told songs like The Sash and Build My Gallows would be allowed as they contain no sectarian references. But the decision is likely to cause controversy as many Catholics consider the songs inflammatory.

Andy Kerr, president of the Rangers Supporters’ Assembly, said: “Essentially at this stage it’s what song is going to get you arrested and the club into trouble and what won’t and we’ve got clarification on that from the police.” He added there was an upsurge in fans apprehending other Rangers fans indulging in sectarian behaviour.

At this week’s meeting it was also agreed to continue “self-policing” and to “continue to ask that fans eradicate all singing of The Billy Boys and derogatory references to Catholics”.

The decision comes in the wake of a Government pledge to tackle sectarianism. Initial proposals were shelved amid difficulties with enforcement when it emerged that fans could be prosecuted for crossing themselves or singing God Save The Queen.

Strathclyde Police said officers who attended the meetings were unavailable for comment but a source said: “Singing The Sash as a rule will not get you arrested but fans should ask themselves whether it’s appropriate to sing these songs at a football match.”

A Rangers spokeswoman said: “Rangers Football Club has made it clear on numerous occasions that sectarian singing has no place in football and fans risk arrest if they participate in singing certain songs.”

Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Media Office, said there had to be a consensus on sectarianism. He said: “Chants and songs in support of British unionism or Irish republicanism are demonstrably not sectarian, while songs attacking the Pope, for example, clearly are.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The legislation is clear -- all songs that are threatening or offensive to a reasonable person or which express or incite religious, racial or other forms of hatred, will be covered by the new offences.”