Rangers to contest Uefa sectarian singing charge

Rangers are to face a Uefa disciplinary hearing over allegations of sectarian singing during last month's Europa Lague match away to PSV Eindhoven.

The club's chief executive Martin Bain says they are "utterly dismayed" by the decision and that they will defend the club's position "vigorously".

Rangers were fined £8,280 by Uefa for their fans' behaviour during a match against Osasuna in May 2007.

Bain said it was "absurd" to suggest it was only Rangers who had this problem.

The chief executive stressed that the club condemned sectarian singing and that had "been made clear time and again".

"We are not saying there is not a problem, but we are saying that for many years now we have made strenuous attempts to address it," he said.

"We do, however, believe that it is absurd to think that only Rangers supporters sing offensive or sectarian songs.

"That is patently not the case and we are left to conclude that there is a disproportionate focus on Rangers.

"It has also become clear that there are people who have been determined to undermine our club at any cost and have constantly lobbied Uefa and other organisations to take action against Rangers."

Uefa head of communications Rob Faulkner did not wish to respond to such an accusation because of the "sensitivity" of the issue.

However, he revealed that, as well as taking into consideration a report from its own match delegate, European football's governing body also worked with other agencies who were attuned to the cultural specifics of each country.

Faulkner stressed that Uefa would take into account previous misdemeanours by Rangers fans when the disciplinary hearing is held.

He pointed out that there is a clause in its disciplinary regulations stipulating that any repeat of a similar offence within five years can be taken into account.

"Within the range of potential sanctions, the disciplinary regulations allow for anything from a warning, to a fine, to banning certain areas of the ground, or banning away supporters," he told BBC Scotland.

"So there are a number of options available to the disciplinary committee, but I wouldn't want to prejudge that.

"There is a clause regarding recidivism, which is the repeat of a similar offence within five years of an infringement. That is clearly stated within our regulations."

The hearing is to be held on 28 April. Should the hearing go against Rangers, the club would then have three days to appeal.

John McMillan, general secretary of the Rangers Supporters Association, thinks his clubs fans are being treated unfairly and rejected the argument that fans of city rivals Celtic only sing "folk songs".

"It looks like the punishment is already locked away somewhere and we have been found guilty before the trial has taken place - and I think it's absolutely shocking," he said.

"I do not and will never condone sectarian chants, but let me also say that Rangers fans are not the only fans who are involved in sectarian singing and if anyone in Scotland thinks that then they must be living on Mars.

"These aren't decent, thinking people. These are morons and I would get rid of them somehow, but it is not as simple as some make out.

"Rangers Football Club have, in my view, done everything they possibly can do and I am getting angry at the finger being pointed at Rangers most the time."

Dee Kinning, from Show Racism the Red Card, pointed that her educational charity worked with Rangers and all other Scottish clubs to eradicate sectarianism.

"It's sad that this is creeping back into the game again and it is affecting the game for the majority of well-behaved fans," she said.