Police are appealing for information after a flare burned a hole in The Falkirk Stadium’s plastic pitch during Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie between Falkirk and Rangers.
The device was thrown onto the park at the north end of the ground as nearby away fans celebrated full-time and a 2-0 defeat for the Bairns.
It melted areas of the plastic woven surface inside the penalty area leaving a scar approximately two feet in length with other smaller areas of damage surrounding before being extinguished by safety stewards.
In a separate incident, a 15-year-old boy was also reported to the Children’s Reporter on Monday for setting off a flare earlier in the match.
Police Scotland are now hunting for the fan that launched the flare that caused the pitch damage. Chief Inspector Alan Waddell said: “This dangerous behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Whilst we are aware that the pitch was damaged, the reality is that such a thoughtless act could have had far more serious consequences.
“With the full assistance of Falkirk and Rangers Football Club we are investigating the incident and are determined to identify the person responsible.
“I would encourage anyone who can provide any information in relation to this matter to contact us on 101.”
Rangers issued a statement shortly after the end of the game on the club’s website (here) which read: “The club is extremely disappointed that a flare was set off from the North Stand at today’s game against Falkirk.
“These devices are inherently dangerous and represent a real risk to fans. players and match officials.
“Today’s incident has resulted in the playing surface being damaged and the Club are now investigating this matter and will be supporting the Police with their inquiries.”
Gary Holt, the Bairns manager said he’d “bite his tongue” before addressing the issue but added: “I’m not happy, the club isn’t happy about it.”
A smoke bomb was also set off during the game towards the back of the north stand, traditionally the visiting supporters’ stand and used to house some of the Rangers fans at today’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie.
Rangers won the match 2-0 with goals from Nicky Law and David Templeton. Earlier in the match, which was preceded by an impeccably observed minute’s silence for those affected by the Clutha Vaults helicopter crash in Glasgow, Falkirk defender David McCracken was red-carded and conceded a penalty saved by Bairns goalkeeper Michael McGovern.
Falkirk spent around £500,000 installing the new state-of-the-art woven pitch this summer and officials have contacted installation company Greenfields ahead of the necessary repairs.