Rangers football fans have broken coronavirus lockdown rules by gathering outside Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow and setting off flares and fireworks.

Police tried to hold back hundreds of supporters outside the main door of the stadium, despite Covid rules in which public gatherings are banned and a maximum of two people from two households are allowed to meet outdoors.

Rangers could win the league title this weekend for the first time in a decade if they beat St Mirren on Saturday and reigning champions Celtic drop points against Dundee United on Sunday. The matches are taking place behind closed doors with no fans in the stadium.

The Rangers manager, Steven Gerrard, was asked in his pre-match press conference on Friday about the potential for fans having a title party outside the club’s ground and urged them to remain safe. He said: “We all have to continue to try and abide by the government rules and respect social distancing and stuff like that.

“But at the same time it’s out of my control and this is when you have to leave it to the security experts and people higher up the club than me to deal with these situations.

“People have to understand the situation our fans are in and what they’ve been through and the priority is that they stay safe.”

Ch Supt Mark Sutherland said: “About 10am today [Saturday) … a large number of supporters gathered outside Ibrox Stadium and a number of pyrotechnic devices were set off.

“I would remind supporters that in line with current Scottish government coronavirus guidelines, all gatherings are currently prohibited and we would urge members of the public to comply with these restrictions. Our priority is public safety and an appropriate policing plan was in place and officers engaged with those present to explain and encourage compliance with restrictions.”

The first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has previously criticised football fans for gathering in large numbers.

After Celtic fans took part in a protest outside the club’s stadium in November, she said: “We have advice against gatherings and every day I stand up here and say avoid crowded places.

“We have a limit on people coming together outside … so any group of people that are gathering together in a crowd are putting themselves and others at risk. Whether it’s football fans, rugby fans, any other kind of sport fans or just people in general, please don’t do it because right now, in the middle of this pandemic.”

This content first appear on the guardian

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