Ally McCoist in plea to Rangers fans
Rangers manager-in-waiting Ally McCoist has appealed to fans to stop kicking the club where it hurts after Uefa imposed a ban on supporters travelling to their next away game in Europe.
The Scottish champions have also been fined a total of €80,000 (£71,200) and could face further bans if fans step out of line again during a three-year probationary period.
The Uefa charges related to discriminatory behaviour by Rangers supporters during both legs of the club's Europa League tie against PSV Eindhoven last month.
Rangers were fined an equal amount for both offences and handed a suspended ban on fans attending a second away game, plus the knowledge they will play a home match behind closed doors if fans repeat the offence within three years.
The Ibrox club have also been hit hard financially in the past as a result of the actions of some of their supporters.
McCoist — who replaces Walter Smith at the helm at the end of the season and could face his first European outing as manager without Rangers fans in attendance — insists the misbehaviour must stop now.
He said: “If you sit back and look at the big picture, effectively they are hitting a swift kick to the team that they supposedly love, right where it hurts. It's not good.
“In this day and age, I think all reasonable people know how we all should behave.
“Everybody makes mistakes, of course they do, but I think we know over the piece how we should behave. If misbehaviour costs the team you support and love, then you have to have a think about it and seriously not do it.”
Asked if it was worth Rangers taking the hit of having fans banned from matches if it finally hammered home the message that sectarianism is unacceptable, McCoist said: “If it solves the problem, of course. If you are asking me will that solve the problem? I don't know, I really don't. Unfortunately, I don't know what will solve the problem.
“No matter what it costs, if the problem can be eradicated and completely put into history, then anything is a good thing.”
Uefa president Michel Platini has been quoted as saying the supporters, rather than the clubs, should be punished.
“I actually totally agree with that statement — 100%,” said McCoist. “If somebody could tell Rangers and Celtic and all these other clubs how to solve the problem, then the clubs would do it.”
Rangers chief executive Martin Bain also hit out at those responsible for sectarian behaviour, while reiterating concerns over FARE's report to Uefa.
The governing body's own match delegates made no reference to singing at either game but charges were brought against Rangers following complaints made by the anti-racism group.
In a statement Bain said: “In terms of the Uefa case brought against us, we have had serious concerns about the integrity of the evidence compiled by the FARE organisation and that remains the case.
“We are also of the opinion that FARE has been influenced by people who make it their business to damage our club in any way they can.”