RANGERS were pretty quick off the mark in condemning the mindless morons who set off flares, injuring a 13-year-old boy in the process, during their Betfred Cup quarter-final against Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Wednesday evening.

Stewart Robertson, the Ibrox club’s managing director, stated publicly and unequivocally that everything possible would be done to identify and punish the people responsible as he announced a tie-up with Indian outfit Bengaluru on Friday afternoon.

“It is just reckless,” said Robertson. “We don’t want to see that behaviour at football grounds. We are working with Livingston and the police and trying to identify who was involved. If we do, they will be banned. It’s as simple as that. The risk to health, the smoke, the flames and everything that goes with it, is not right.”

Quite right. The words sent out a clear message. Namely, that bringing pyrotechnics into football matches is dangerous, irresponsible and will have serious repercussions for anyone stupid enough to disregard repeated warnings and do so.

READ MORE: Rangers will issue bans to fans for use of pyrotechnics in win over Livingston

But more, much more, still needs to be done, both by Rangers and other Ladbrokes Premiership clubs, to address this escalating and deeply concerning issue.

They should be proactive, not reactive, and work together with the authorities to rid grounds in this country of fireworks. They must ensure that they don’t get in to stadiums in the first place, not act after they have been ignited and paying spectators have been hurt.

Failure to do so could result in somebody being harmed far more seriously and possibly even, as was tragically the case at a Wales game against Romania in Cardiff back in 1993, killed.

This isn’t the first time that Rangers have issued a scathing statement about a flare being set off at one of their matches. They have, too, rooted out and punished the imbeciles responsible previously.

They did so, for instance, after the newly-laid £450,000 artificial surface at Falkirk had been damaged during a Scottish Cup game back in 2013. But here we are six years later and exactly the same thing is happening.

That tells you that issuing warnings and banning supporters doesn’t have any significant impact. There are numerous other examples where harsh words have not been heeded.

Celtic, for instance, banned the ultras group The Green Brigade for two games after an ill-advised banner display during a game against Hearts, which involved flares, back in 2017.

As we have seen on many occasions since, the hard core element among the treble treble winners’ support are hell bent on dragging the good name of their club through the dirt and endangering the safety of their fellow fans come what may. They have just been fined once again by UEFA for setting off flares during their Europa League play-off match against AIK in Stockholm.

No, this problem must be addressed before it happens, not after. Hibernian led the way after a spate of alarming incidents at their matches last season. They introduced sniffer dogs at Easter Road after Rangers captain James Tavernier had been accosted by a pitch invader during one game and Celtic winger Scott Sinclair was very nearly struck by a glass Buckfast bottle which was hurled from the stands in another.

READ MORE: Police probe as two hurt by pyrotechnics at Livingston v Rangers

Fans entering their Leith ground who were carrying illegal drugs or pyrotechnics would have been immediately apprehended by police and arrested. All Scottish clubs have to take similar measures on a weekly basis going forward.

Many supporters will doubtless complain about the “criminalisation of football fans” if this happens. They are, poor lambs, unhappy enough about being filmed by police as things stand. But you reap what you sow. Decent folk who just want to cheer on their team have nothing whatsoever to worry about. If it prevents fatalities then surely it will be a small price to pay.

I attended a Napoli match in Serie A in Italy–after they had been, ironically enough, banned from their own ground by Italian football authorities for crowd trouble at the Stadio San Paolo – many years ago. It proved to be an eye-opening experience that gave an insight into the effectiveness of proactive policing.

Everyone attending that evening, and there was a crowd of several thousand at a game which Pierluigi Collina was officiating at, was required to make their way past sniffer dogs in single file as they entered the stadium through one turnstile as machine gun-toting policemen clad in riot gear looked on menacingly.

Was it an environment to take small children into? Definitely not. Was it intimidating? It was indeed. Were such extreme measures justified? They could have no complaints given their previous conduct. Did anyone manage to smuggle flares into the stadium? No. Did the match pass off without any unrest in the stands. It did.

A kid who had travelled West Lothian to cheer on his heroes needed treatment to his eyes and a female supporter required medical attention for a leg injury after flares and smoke bombs were set off in the away end in midweek. That gave an indication of just how hazardous pyrotechnics at football matches can be.

Flares and smoke bombs burn at high temperatures, are deliberately difficult to extinguish, contain toxic chemicals and emit fumes which can trigger asthma attacks. They are for use by those who are putting on a Guy Fawkes Night display or are in distress at sea, not by inebriated halfwits in large and tightly-packed crowds of people in an enclosed area. Deploying sniffer dogs can snuff them out for good.