STEVEN Gerrard last night admitted that Rangers could be forced to play important European games at Ibrox behind closed doors in future if supporters continue to chant sectarian songs.

UEFA have ordered the Glasgow club to close a section of their stadium for the second leg of their Europa League play-off against Legia Warsaw next Thursday night.

They have ruled that a group of fans were guilty of racist behaviour in their home game against St Joseph’s of Gibraltar last month and demanded that 3,000 seats must be shut off.

Rangers issued a strongly-worded statement on their official website after being informed of the punishment urging any spectator “unable to behave in a civilised manner” to “stay away”.

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: Alison McConnell: UEFA have set tone for Rangers, time for SFA and SPFL to follow suit

Gerrard, whose team drew 0-0 with Legia in Poland on Thursday night and has an excellent chance of reaching the group stages for the second year running, backed their stance.

The Liverpool and England great is concerned that UEFA could close Ibrox entirely if a section of the support continue to engage in bigoted chanting.

“I’m sure UEFA are sending us a clear message that this is your punishment for this but, if it continues, you will be playing behind closed doors,” he said.

“Unfortunately, those are the things that will come if this continues. If this minority continue to let the club down, that is what eventually will happen.

“And the thought of that is tough, as a manager. Especially when there is so much to play for in these games.

Gerrard predicted that having 3,000 fewer fans cheering Rangers on against Legia could impact on his side’s chances of reaching the Europa League group stages.

“We need every little bit of help we can get and 3000 people can make an awful lot of noise,” he said.

“When Ibrox is full and is rocking, it’s a difficult place for a team to come and get the right result.

"You keep taking chunks of that away, it gives the opposition an advantage.

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: On-form Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack excited at prospect of Scotland recall

“So we’re gaining absolutely nothing from these chants and this behaviour. I ask and plead for the fans to behave properly when they come and support the team.

“It’s frustrating. Because they’re spoiling it for innocent people who pay good money to go and follow the team.

Gerrard added: “I don’t know how many people are involved in this – but I guarantee it won’t be 3000.

“But, unfortunately, 3000 people have to miss out on what looks like is going to be a hell of a football match to go and support your team.

“I can’t wait for next Thursday, can’t wait to be involved in it, and I’m sure the players are the same.

“And I’m sure a lot of supporters will be desperate to get tickets for that match – but, unfortunately, some of them can’t go now.”

Gerrard admitted he was disappointed that Rangers, who have also been ordered to display an “Equal Game” banner at the Legia game by UEFA, have been hit with this sanction at such a critical stage in the 2019/20 campaign.

“It’s frustrating, from my point of view, “ he said. “We need Ibrox to be as noisy and hostile as it can.

“To have a chunk of our support missing next week is hugely disappointing. So I certainly back the statement.”