LONDON: Steven Gerrard says Rangers fans should stay away on Saturday despite the emotional pull of it being the 50th anniversary of the Ibrox tragedy that resulted in 66 fans dying.
Gerrard can relate to their loss as his cousin Jon-Paul Gilhooley, 10, was the youngest victim of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans died.
However, the Rangers manager said it would be foolhardy for fans of the Premiership leaders to come and pay their respects due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rangers are planning a scaled-back tribute to remember the fans who lost their lives on January 2, 1971, in a crush as they left following the 1-1 draw with bitter rivals Celtic.
Several children were among the victims with the youngest eight-year-old Nigel Pickup from Liverpool.
Celtic — who trail Rangers by 16 points although they have three games in hand — are also their opponents on Saturday.
“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,” said Gerrard.
“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 (Saturday), 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 said he could sympathise with their loss on a personal level.
“Yeah for sure, there’s certainly a relation from my point of view with my connection to the Hillsborough disaster as well,” said Gerrard.
“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.
“It’s a very poignant day tomorrow, the 50th year as well.”