Shire chairman apologises for player’s Ibrox Disaster web slur

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A youth footballer is facing disciplinary action for comments he allegedly made about the Ibrox Disaster on a social networking site.

East Stirlingshire FC chairman Tony Ford issued an apology to Rangers and the families of those who lost their lives in the 1971 disaster, which killed 66 people, for offensive comments posted by an under-19 player.

In a statement on the club’s website Mr Ford said: “I am horrified that a player connected with our club can express such opinions. I am sure all Shire supporters will join me in condemning these words.

“On behalf of everyone at East Stirlingshire Football Club I would like to apologise for the actions of this individual.

“As chairman of the club I would like to express deep regret for the distress these words will have caused the families of those who lost their lives in the Ibrox Disaster.

“I would like to say sorry to all Rangers supporters for the grossly offensive nature of the descriptions used. And I would also like to apologise to the officials, staff, coaches and players of Rangers Football Club, who we have spent this season building warm and cordial relations with.

“The player concerned has already been spoken to by club staff and has been told he will be the subject of a disciplinary procedure.”

Rangers have condemned the comments on their website. While acknowledging East Stirlingshire’s “swift” apology, the old firm club said: “The 1971 disaster, in which 66 people died, resonates deeply with all Rangers supporters and it is truly abhorrent that anyone could see fit to mock such a tragedy.

“Rangers condemns the sickening comments made and we note East Stirlingshire have issued a swift apology to everyone connected to the club.”

The disaster was caused by a crush of fans at Ibrox Park on January 2, 1971 during a game with Glasgow rivals Celtic.

Mr Ford said the club was working hard to combat sectarianism and bigotry and had given instructions to players on how to use social media responsibly.

He added: “In the almost 18 months I have been chairman I, and the rest of the board, have worked extremely hard to make East Stirlingshire a welcoming club for everyone. We have participated willingly and positively in initiatives to combat sectarianism, bigotry and hate.

“A main aim has been to try and use football to promote community, harmony and tolerance. Coming to a Shire match is a social experience above all and many who have participated in that have commented how much like a family the Shire support is.

“I know I speak for the entire board of directors when I say we are proud to be a fan-owned and fan-run club.

“Likewise, I know my fellow directors are saddened and ashamed by these recent events which have brought no credit to the supporters, coaches and playing staff of our club. To those people too we owe an apology.”