Glasgow (AFP) – Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has urged Scottish football authorities to make a “severe example” of bottle-throwing supporters if they are serious about protecting players.
Gers left-back Borna Barisic only narrowly escaped a potentially serious injury during a win away to Hibernian on Friday when a glass bottle was hurled at him from the Easter Road stands.
This was not the first time the Edinburgh club’s East Stand has provided the backdrop for a violent incident.
Rangers captain James Tavernier was confronted by a pitch invader in March, just a week after a glass bottle was thrown at Celtic winger Scott Sinclair.
Gerrard believes the repeat nature of these incidents has only increased the likelihood for further attacks, with the former Liverpool and England midfielder saying now was the time for stern measures.
“Only action from the clubs will help or stop it in the long run,” Gerrard insisted.
“We can’t just talk about it in the media. There’s got to be serious actions taken. The individuals need to be identified because I do believe it’s a minority.
“They need to be punished and punished heavily so it stops other people trying to do it in the future.”
He added: “It’s a crazy decision to throw a bottle onto a football pitch. The damage you could do is unthinkable.
“It’s very disappointing to see that but I’m sure Hibs will deal with that. It’s something for Jack Ross and Hibs to deal with as a club rather than us.
“We again just send a message to our own fans to make sure they behave.
“If the punishment isn’t severe enough then people will continue to make bad decisions from the terraces.
“There needs to be an example set — a severe one — and then that will make people think and things will improve. But it does seem like we’re going backwards rather than forwards.
Victory over Hibs left second-placed Rangers five points behind arch-rivals Celtic, the reigning Scottish Premiership champions.
Celtic, however, have played a game more than Rangers.
Gerrard’s men will look to cut that deficit further at home to Kilmarnock on Boxing Day before travelling across Glasgow to Parkhead for an Old Firm derby against Celtic on Sunday.
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