As Aberdeen FC prepares to welcome Rangers FC to Pittodrie for the first league fixture between the sides since Rangers was promoted to the SPL, as always Police Scotland is urging fans to enjoy themselves but behave responsibly.
Ahead of kick-off on Sunday September 25, Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson is asking the thousands of people who will be watching the game to support Police and both clubs in making public safety a priority before, during and after the event.
As is always the case with such high profile fixtures, extra police resources will be on patrol across the North East and within the stadium, with support from specialist officers, dog handlers and the mounted unit to minimise any potential disorder or disruption to local communities.
Chief Superintendent Thomson said: "More than 20,000 fans are expected at Pittodrie on Sunday, with thousands more watching in licensed premises and their homes across the North East, and in Glasgow.
"The vast majority will be there to simply enjoy the game in a safe environment, and we're proud to have an excellent history of partnership working with Aberdeen FC with the aim of ensuring that the match day experience is safe for everyone.
"We will very much join in with the spirit of the event but let it be clear that we will deal firmly and robustly with the very small minority who may choose to let themselves and their clubs down.
"My warning is clear - any form of anti-social behaviour whether it involves sectarianism, violence or disorder is completely unnecessary, completely unwanted and will not be tolerated.
“We will be closely monitoring fans entering the match and will be specifically looking out for anyone in possession of pyrotechnics of any kind. It is a condition of entry to the ground that fans allow themselves to be searched and those who refuse will be turned away by the club. I also want to remind fans that they should not drink alcohol in the street, in the stadium, or when travelling to and from the game. Those who attend the ground drunk will not be permitted entry into the stadium and may well be arrested.
“If you are intent on causing trouble whether it be within the stadium, in your city or town, your local pub, your home or even online, you will be caught. Don’t think because you haven’t been caught at the time you’ve got away with it - retrospective enquiries will also be carried out to identify those responsible for any crimes committed."
Officers are also urging home fans and visitors to Aberdeen to plan their journeys in advance and leave plenty of time to get to the stadium. As well as working with officers from British Transport Police, additional officers on duty in the city will be patrolling the roads to minimise disruption and congestion on major routes.
Chief Superintendent Thomson said: "There will be a large number of people travelling to Pittodrie so therefore I would urge you to make sure they get there safely and on time with the least disruption. Please be respectful of other passengers on public transport if you are travelling from outwith Aberdeen and ensure you adhere to drinking laws.
"Plans have been underway with partners for many weeks now in preparation for this which is common practice with any full capacity football event. Please ensure the match is memorable for all the right reasons and don't let your side down."
A spokesman for AFC added: “People will obviously be excited as they are passionate about football and it is up to us to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the matchday experience. We are sure they will and we look forward to Rangers return to Pittodrie, and anticipate a great day."