Waving flags adorned with “Champions 55” and lighting flares, Rangers fans braved the pandemic lockdown to gather by the thousands to celebrate the decade-long title drought that ended Sunday.
The Ibrox Stadium that was denied access for a year was the fate of fans after Celtic drew 0-0 with Dundee United. That sealed the dethronement of rival Glasgow Celtic, ending their nine-year streak of Scottish Premiership titles.
It’s a world-record 55 domestic league titles for the Rangers, though not for rivals who claim it’s the club’s first reborn after being forced to start again in the fourth division after a financial implosion and liquidation in 2012.
Celebrations that broke the law could ultimately prevent Glasgow from hosting all four European Championship games at Hampden Park in June, as UEFA requires fans to be allowed in, but Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon is concerned about ease coronavirus restrictions.
“I congratulate @RangersFC on the title win and I recognize the moment it is for the fans,” he tweeted. “But gathering in crowds at this time risks lives and could delay release from lockdown for everyone else. If those who are gathered care about the safety of others and the country, they will go home. “
It was the second day in a row that fans flooded Ibrox, instead of staying home as required by law. They reunited when the Rangers beat St. Mirren 3-0 on Saturday.
Now Steven Gerrard’s team has an unassailable 20-point lead with six games to go.
Celtic have dominated since Rangers were demoted to the lowest professional league in 2012, but have now been prevented from winning the title for an unprecedented 10th consecutive season, and for the 52nd time overall.
It is the first league title won by Gerrard, who spent most of his playing career at Liverpool. Gerrard came agonizingly close in 2014 to finally clinching the only club award he missed: the Premier League title. In addition to the heartbreak, Gerrard’s slip against Chelsea contributed to a 2-0 loss that ended up costing Liverpool the title and Manchester City emerged victorious.
After watching the final two years of his playing career at the Los Angeles Galaxy, the midfielder retired from the game in 2016 and embarked on his coaching career with Liverpool’s youth teams.
Gerrard stepped into first-team management in 2018 when he was hired by a Rangers team in the slump after being thrashed 4-0 by Celtic in a Scottish Cup semi-final. It has taken Gerrard three years to restore the Rangers to their usual position as Scottish champions.
“There is great spirit in the group,” Gerrard said. “I think everyone, myself included, has waited at some point, as we got closer, to see some nerves or tension or some inexperience. But this shows the strength of the costumes ”.
Gerrard no longer seems to depend on forward Alfredo Morelos. Captain James Tavernier, right back, has scored 17 goals. Goalkeeper Allan McGregor and defender Connor Goldson have been part of the barrier that has seen the Rangers concede just nine goals in 32 league games. The team also remains in contention for the Europa League.
“There are a lot of intrepid young players and some really calm heads,” Gerrard said. “We have the right balance at the moment. That does not mean that we are ready. We need to keep moving forward and improving things, and we will. “
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.