Steven Gerrard has urged Rangers fans to stay away on Saturday as the club marks the 50th anniversary of the Ibrox disaster.
The Covid-19 pandemic means Gers chiefs are planning a scaled-back tribute to remember the 66 fans who lost their lives in a crush on January 2 1971.
And Light Blues boss Gerrard has asked fans not to visit the stadium ahead of Saturday’s Old Firm derby.
🎙️ SG: I want to pay my respects to all of the families. In a normal situation on the 50th year, we would have had a full service for us all to pay our respects to all involved in the Ibrox Disaster but unfortunately, this has to be slightly different this year due to Covid.— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) January 1, 2021
He said: “It’s a very poignant day tomorrow, the 50th year as well.
“In a normal situation, we’d have a lot of people around the ground and we’d obviously put a full service on so we could pay our respects that way.
“But because of Covid-19, things will look slightly different. However, as a club we still want to pay our full respects to everyone involved and to all the names that are no longer with us.
“It’s a very special day tomorrow, myself and the players are all aware of that – but I would ask all our fans to stay away. I know that’s tough but we also have to pay respect to the situation we’re all in at the moment and stay safe at home.”
Gerrard’s cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley, 10, was the youngest victim of the Hillsborough disaster and the former Liverpool captain admits the grief felt by the families of those who lost their lives at Ibrox resonates strongly with him.
He said: “Yeah for sure, there’s certainly a relation from my point of view with my connection to the Hillsborough disaster as well.
“I certainly know what this disaster means to people and I want to send my full respects to all the families and the survivors. I also want to pay my respects to the people who passed away.”
Rangers had hoped to hold a memorial service but have been forced to put the plans on hold because of the pandemic.
The club said in a statement: “Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of the 1971 Ibrox Disaster – a day which changed Rangers Football Club and Scottish Football forever.
Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of the 1971 Ibrox Disaster – a day which changed Rangers Football Club and Scottish Football forever.— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) January 1, 2021
“It is with great sadness that the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented us from being able to hold a full, traditional service to commemorate the anniversary.
“Before the impact of the pandemic took hold, we had planned to hold a service that would be similar in style and scale to the one held at Glasgow Cathedral in 1971.
“However, as there are no options that allow us to be completely inclusive of all the families, survivors and representatives that should be present at such an occasion, we have decided to postpone a major event until circumstances allow us to hold a service that would reflect the significance and magnitude of the occasion.”
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