Campaigners are calling for Old Firm games to be held on weekdays to prevent drink-fuelled violence from erupting

Scotland’s leading anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth believes the move could help take the “sting” out of louts who cause trouble after heated matches.

Last night football fan Francis “Francy” McCann was fighting for his life in hospital after being stabbed during celebrations in Glasgow’s Merchant City.

It came hours after Celtic won 2-1 at Celtic Park during the Old Firm match on Sunday which triggered the worst football violence in two decades.

Following the game a police union boss said that he fears that public services are being treated as an afterthought to football games.

Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “The demands created by the Celtic v Rangers fixture on the police and other public services is huge. 

“For a whole variety of reasons, the game is seen as something that those services have to fit around because of the commercial side of it, such as the television companies or others. The public service’s pressure seems to be a very low consideration.

“As far as the suggestion to move the games to a weekday should certainly be given consideration and shouldn’t be refused because of tradition.”

An eyewitness working in the Merchant City said stab victim Mr McCann, of Drumchapel, was “decorated in blood” after the horrific street brawl at 5pm. It’s believed a fight broke out in one of the pubs on Albion Street before spilling into the street. Police are treating the attack as attempted murder. 

Two other men, aged 29 and 30, were also taken to the nearby Royal Infirmary Hospital with serious injuries.

Nil By Mouth chief David Scott said the games should be moved forward to weekday evenings to prevent drunken fans from starting trouble during the match.

The charity director said: “The 48 hours after the game was one of the most extremely serious incidents that we’ve had in a long time. It used to be the games were changed to earlier on a Sunday because people would be getting tanked up before the games – but now they are getting tanked up after the games instead.

“If they had a 7.45pm kick-off on a Monday or a Tuesday, people have to go to their work before it and afterwards.”

Nil By Mouth was established by Cara Henderson in 1996 after her friend, Mark Scott, was murdered on his way home from a football match.

The organisation campaigns against sectarianism and provides training and advice workshops for all age groups.

Scottish Police Federation vice-chairman David Hamilton backed their calls for football games to be rescheduled and warned last weekend’s carnage could force lifelong football supporters to walk away from the game once and for all.

He said: “From a police officer’s perspective, policing any event, particularly a high-energy football match like an Old Firm match, we would prefer people to be sober rather than under the influence.

“So anything that makes it easier to the police and safer to the police, has got to be a good thing. If that means moving it back to a Monday or Tuesday then we would welcome that”.