THE LEADER of the SNP council in Glasgow has accused political rivals of stirring up sectarianism in a row over a “fan zone” at Ibrox.

Susan Aitken said Labour and Tory MSPs in the city had endorsed “false claims about footballing bias” in the SNP, which had resulted in one of her councillors receiving death threats.

SNP councillor David McDonald shared images of messages he had received, with angry men threatening to stab him or have him “gutted” because of the row.

Last month Glasgow Life refused Rangers permission for a trial fan zone. The club had proposed hosting 2000 fans at the council-owned Ibrox Football Centre, directly opposite the ground’s main stand entrance.

Fans were invited to sample “food and beverages with a bar and entertainment, including sports activities for kids, inflatables and beat the goalie”.

Licensing agent, Stephen McGowan, acting on behalf of the club, said it was about Rangers demonstrating “that they can operate a fun facility which is safe and in which families can come and enjoy themselves.” The club, he added, wanted this “to be a civilised experience”.

However, the Ibrox and Cessnock community council opposed the plans, saying they feared it would stop local kids being able to use the pitches on match days.

Rangers were furious with the decision, and suggested this was down to the direct intervention of Aitken, and fellow SNP councillors Stephen Dornan, and McDonald.

The football club’s anger was compounded when days later Aitken publicly supported a fan zone outside Hampden.

That led to Tory MSP Adam Tomkins, and Labour‘s Anas Sarwar and Pauline McNeil questioning the council’s decision.

The National:

Tomkins (pictured), called the administration “increasingly partisan and one-sided”.

In a strongly-worded response to Rangers, Aitken made clear said she did not overturn any decision.

She said: “There was no intervention to halt the fan zone taking place at the complex. To repeat, that decision has already been taken by Glasgow Life on the basis that the club had failed to provide adequate assurances to the community council.”

Aitken said if a majority on the community council agree there would be nothing to prevent a future application being heard by the council.

A Rangers spokesman said: “It is a rather tawdry attempt to deflect from the real issues. Instead of insulting Rangers employees and staff by suggesting they would take to social media, it would be much more appropriate if she would address the reality of the situation and answer the pertinent questions. We all need to find out if due process was followed properly.”

Aitken later accused her political rivals of “knowingly exploiting sectarian division”. She added: “They are responsible for stoking the abuse directed at me, [David McDonald], his family and council officers. They bring shame on Glasgow politics,” she tweeted.

Sarwar replied: “To accuse two Catholics, a Protestant and a Muslim of stirring up sectarianism sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.

“There are genuine questions that need to be answered about what is a quasi-judicial process that should be free of political interference.”

Tomkins called it “unbelievable – and completely irresponsible” and said Aitken was “so obviously out of her depth”.