RESTAURANTS and pubs already hammered by a tough year of lockdowns were forced to close on their busiest trading day because of unruly crowds of football fans.

A number of eateries and boozers across the city centre were so worried about the safety of their staff and customers they shut up shop on Saturday, as Rangers supporters caused chaos in George Square.

Glasgow Times:

George Smith, the manager of Elia, a Greek Restaurant in the square, told how diners were shown the route to safety by police after he made the tough call to close at 5pm.

He said: “Safety was the number one concern. You weren’t safe to be near George Square, you weren’t safe to be in George Square.

Glasgow Times:

“The customers wanted to leave and I asked three or four policemen who were standing outside who showed them out.”

Mr Smith added that he did not fear for his own safety as a result of Saturday night’s events and that revellers asking to use the toilet who were turned away “were okay with that”.

Glasgow Times:

“But Saturday night is our big night and the whole city centre will have lost out big time,” he added.

“On the other hand, the square is for public use.

“I felt a bit let down because we follow all the rules and what happened on Saturday could cost us another month of lockdown.

Glasgow Times:

“How are they allowed to do this? I suppose people have been locked down for so long and they want to get out. You would need a magic wand to sort it out.

“It looks like a super-spreader event to me.”

We told previously how Hugh Pennington, an emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, thought there was little risk in the gathering itself, in terms of the spread of Covid-19.

Glasgow Times:

He pointed out the low chances of infecting others outdoors and said the real risk lay in what people did before and after the event.

Others venues simply did not open at all, including McChuills, a pub popular with Celtic fans, close to High Street station. The manager was not available for comment when approached by the Glasgow Times but we reported previously how the bar was fearing for its continued existence because of the impact of lockdown restrictions.

Glasgow Times:

La Vita, beside George Square, posted a message on their social media channels on Saturday just before 7pm saying that due to safety fears, bosses had taken the decision to close the restaurant and its takeaway service.

The Social, a bar in nearby Royal Exchange Square, did the same at around 5.30pm saying in a Facebook post they were worried for staff and customers.

Glasgow Times:

The manager of Yippon, a Japanese restaurant in George Street said he was forced to lock the toilets because of wandering fans caught short.

Revellers who clashed violently with police were condemned in the strongest terms by the top brass, with one senior police officer warning “many more arrests” would be made in the coming days.

Glasgow Times:

One Rangers fan had half of his hand blown off by a firework which exploded as he was holding it, an accident and emergency source told the PA news agency.

Glasgow’s top brass declared late on Saturday night they would clear George Square, which saw the worst scenes of disorder, under section 12 of the Public Order Act of 1986, which gives cops the powers to shut down gatherings if they present a threat to the safety of the community. 

Police Scotland confirmed five officers were injured – one suffering a serious face wound – while trying to marshal ranks of unruly fans in Glasgow city centre on Saturday evening, and more than 20 people have been arrested so far.

Thousands defied Covid-19 warnings against large gatherings and massed in George Square to celebrate Rangers winning their first Scottish Premiership championship since 2011, setting off fireworks and flares and drinking in the street.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the “disgraceful scenes” and sectarian chanting among the crowd, adding: “To say I’m utterly disgusted by the Rangers fans who rampaged through the city would be an understatement.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, the divisional commander for Greater Glasgow, said in a statement: “Our officers became the focus of the crowd’s attention with missiles and flares being thrown at them.

“Although most of those present dispersed, a number remained and confronted officers with violence and aggression.

“Missiles were thrown and officers came under direct attack as George Square and the surrounding area was cleared.”

Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said on Twitter that “many more arrests will follow in the coming weeks”.

Ms Sturgeon said on Twitter: “In normal times, the violence and vandalism, and the vile anti-Catholic prejudice that was on display, would have been utterly unacceptable. But mid-pandemic, in a city with cases on the rise, it was also selfish beyond belief.

“People across the country still living under the most difficult restrictions – not able to see family or attend weddings and funerals – are rightly furious at the irresponsible actions of a thuggish minority who seem to care little for the risks they pose to other people.”

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said on Saturday that it was “disgraceful” officers were subject to “the kind of thuggery we saw last night”.

He tweeted: “Incidents of violence, disorder, anti-Catholic & any other hatred will be followed up.”

Rangers defeated Aberdeen 4-0 at Ibrox before collecting the Scottish Premiership silverware. Fans had been warned against gathering to celebrate due to rising Covid-19 cases in Glasgow.

However, thousands of supporters outside Ibrox were cheering and chanting as the Rangers players arrived for the 12.30pm kick-off, before marching into the heart of the city after the game.

On Friday night, scores of Rangers fans lit red flares simultaneously along the River Clyde in the city as they marked the end of the season.