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Thursday 20 June 2019

Catholic Clarke 'warned off' Gers

Steve Clarke
Steve Clarke

Steve Clarke revealed he was warned off a move to Rangers as a player because of their sectarian issues.

More than three decades on, the Catholic-raised Kilmarnock manager was subjected to abuse by religious bigots during his side's Scottish Cup defeat at Ibrox on Wednesday.

Instead of accepting the hatred as some sort of twisted norm, Clarke has again spoken out in a bid to prompt better action from authorities.

Appearing alongside club captain Kris Boyd, who was subjected to sectarian abuse by Celtic fans days earlier, the 55-year-old reiterated that Rangers assured him religion would not be an issue when they made a move for him last year.

Clarke discovered differently when he was called a "Fenian b*****d" by a section of the Ibrox crowd, prompting him to accuse them of living in the "Dark Ages" and express relief his children did not grow up in such a culture.

The former Chelsea defender and coach, who returned to Scotland in 2017, said: "I've had a fantastic reaction to what I said.

"Great support from everybody, a lot of good people, a lot of good messages, all very supportive. A good message from Rangers, a good message from the SFA, a good message from the Scottish government.

"I hope the publicity and the good words that have come out manifest itself into better policy and hopefully a better society in the future."

Clarke believes there were major advances during his time out of the country.

"When I was a player going back to 1984, '85, '86, Rangers didn't sign Catholic players.

"When I was at St Mirren there was an enquiry when Graeme Souness took over about me going to Rangers. The manager, Alex Smith, said: 'No, you couldn't do that son.' And it wasn't because there was any racism or sectarianism from Alex, he was just protecting me."

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