Glasgow theatre boss hits out after mass gathering of Celtic fans forces closure

One of Scotland’s leading theatres has criticised the police after being forced to shut down and call off a show in the face of a mass gathering of football fans outside the venue.

Sunday, 15th May 2022, 1:15 pm

The Tron Theatre in Glasgow, which cancelled a sold-off performance around an hour before it was due to start, said it was given no warning that streets were to be closed off around the Argyle Street and the High Street to allow Celtic fans to celebrate a league title triumph.

Artistic director Andy Arnold condemned a "sizeable minority" of fans for their behaviour, which left staff and ticket-holders unable to safely access the building for the final performance of Who Killed My Father.

He said the theatre had “simply had no choice” other than to completely close down for the day.

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Police Scotland said there had been an "unacceptable level of behaviour and littering" during the celebrations, with six arrests made, after thousands headed to the Glasgow Cross area following the club’s last game of the season.

However the force insisted its policing plan for the celebrations "prioritised public safety and sought to minimise disruption to businesses and communities."

The play, staged by Edinburgh-based company Surrogate, was due to explore the relationship between a son and his alcoholic right-wing father, who subjected him to violence and homophobia before suffering an accident at work. It was billed as “an intimate declaration of love from son to father and a defiant call for social justice.”

Mr Arnold said: “We hate cancelling shows and did so with great reluctance but we simply had no choice.

Celtic fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in the Merchant City. Picture Craig Foy/SNS Group

"Without any prior warning whatsoever from the police, we discovered that the whole of the Trongate was to be sectioned off for celebrations by Celtic football supporters on winning the league.

"We have no issue with the supporters wishing to celebrate their team but this entailed whole sections of Argyle Street and the High Street being cordoned off by police and thousands of supporters packed outside our building, making access by audiences and staff virtually impossible.

"Added to this, while the majority of the supporters were euphoric but behaving sensibly, a sizable minority were acting in a manner which was upsetting for Tron staff to have to deal with.

"It was clear that the performance could not go ahead and the building would have to remain closed."The police could inform local traders as well as the Tron when such an event is going to take place and we would make the necessary arrangements."Sadly, we were given no warning beforehand and, given the number of police and the cordoning off of streets and traffic, this event had clearly been planned and agreed upon in advance.”

The Tron Theatre was forced to shut down and cancel a performance on Saturday due to a mass gathering of Celtic fans in the neighbouring streets. Picture: John Johnston

Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland said: "Police Scotland is a human rights-based organisation that puts our values of integrity, fairness, respect and a commitment to upholding human rights at the heart of everything we do.

“A proportionate policing plan was in place which facilitated the gathering, prioritised public safety and sought to minimise disruption to businesses and communities.

“While there was an unacceptable level of anti-social behaviour and littering there were no serious incidents or disorder.

"There were some outbreaks of minor disorder and our officers acted swiftly and robustly to prevent escalation and protect safety.”

Andy Arnold is artistic director of the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. Picture: John Johnston
Michael Marcus was due to appear in the final performance of Who Killed My Father at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow on Saturday night. Picture: Emily Macinnes
Police closed off several streets around Glasgow Cross during the mass gathering of Celtic fans on Saturday. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS Group