The streets outside Celtic Park remained largely empty as football fans largely adhered to stay-at-home messages throughout the Old Firm derby on Sunday.
A large presence of police officers cordoned off the stadium in Glasgow as Celtic went up against Rangers FC from midday and deter any potential mass gatherings. The heavy law enforcement operation may have been unnecessary, however, as neither team’s supporters turned out.
Elsewhere in Glasgow, such as in George Square, officers were also stationed to prevent any lockdown non-compliance. The main focus was on Celtic Park with Mounted officers and police vans patrolling a steel encirclement erected around the home stadium to deter any potential fans from showing up amid fears of clashes between the two rival clubs.
That’s not to say that neither side did not attempt to leave their mark on the area. Overnight, Union Jack flags appeared on lampposts leading up to the stadium, and a Rangers banner reading “Can you see us now?” was hung over a pedestrian footbridge at Hillington. Celtic fans were spotted on Sunday morning climbing ladders to remove them.
Are these flags at half mast cause their club died? 🤷♂️ https://t.co/3dVayU7Q1L— CelticRumours (@RumoursCeltic) March 21, 2021
The previous day, kerbs around the streets of Bo'ness had been painted red, white, and blue in support of the Gers.
Same in leven 🤦🏼♀️ this used to be a celtic supporters pub and there have been a little flag war going on but this is too far. pic.twitter.com/bfOZ3c2S6l— Sarah ❤🏴 (@SarahB1874) March 21, 2021
Authorities warned fans of both clubs ahead of the match that arrests would be made in the event of social distancing measures being breached. Both John Kennedy, the caretaker manager of Celtic, and Rangers boss Steven Gerrard urged fans to comply with the government's demands to stay at home.
“The best place you can support me and my players is from the comfort of your own home", Gerrard said in a letter last week.
Similarly, Kennedy told Hoops supporters to enjoy the game on TV.
Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins urged supporters of both teams on Friday to act responsibly and told clubs to help the police by relaying the stay-at-home order.
The match ended in a 1-1 draw. With Celtic's 0-0 result with Dundee United earlier this month, the Rangers have topped the Scottish Premiership title.
There were fears last week that the fixture would be cancelled following Rangers fans breaking social distancing rules 2 weeks ago after it was announced that the team had achieved their first premiership win in 10-years.
28 arrests were made as Rangers fans celebrated their victory throughout the streets of Glasgow on 7 March in what Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described as a "disgraceful" display.
🎥 “The behaviour witnessed at the weekend was disgraceful and it was selfish”— Radio Clyde News (@RadioClydeNews) March 9, 2021
➡️ @NicolaSturgeon condemns the large gatherings of Rangers fans at the weekend.
➡️ The First Minister’s speaking to @CC_Livingstone later on to discuss plans to avoid incidents in the future👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/qnwQ1ut0Ec
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf also worried fans on Friday when he said that Holyrood would not hesitate to "defer" the game if fans could not be trusted not to clash on the day.
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said on Saturday that a number of officers who were responding to the illegal celebration had tested positive for coronavirus.
While the government has partially outlined its roadmap from coronavirus restrictions, lockdown measures remain in place in Scotland prohibiting mass gatherings.