THE SNP leader of Glasgow City Council has been reported to the standards commissioner over a “joke” about former Labour council leader Frank McAveety and Rangers.

McAveety has lodged a complaint against Susan Aitken with the Commissioner for Ethical Standards, claiming that she was trying to “smear” him.

The complaint centres on a comment Aitken posted in a private Facebook group for SNP councillors during the council’s row over the Rangers fanzone.

The dispute started last year, when the club applied for permission to host family-friendly games and entertainment at a council-owned facility opposite Ibrox.

That application was knocked back by the council, infuriating Rangers.

Supporters of the club suggested the rejection had more to do with the politics of the SNP administration than the lack of support from the community council cited by the local authority.

McAveety, who led the council under the last Labour administration, had accused the SNP leadership of putting pressure on the licensing committee to block the fanzone.

On the Facebook group, Aitken posted a picture of McAveety in the directors’ box at Rangers.

She said: “If anyone feels like getting these nice photos of Frank McAveety enjoying hospitality in the Rangers directors’ box out there...”

A Labour source told The Sun: “This is a blatant attempted smear to make out his questions about the fanzone row were motivated by him being in with Rangers.

“The photo was taken in 2015. Frank was council leader and was simply invited to a match.”

In his letter to the commissioner, McAveety writes: “In context, these comments came amid outrage over a decision to withdraw support for a fanzone at Ibrox Football Stadium, leading to claims of political interference in a quasi-judicial decision.”

It continues: “The comments, as reported with the images, indicate that the leader of the council wished members of her group to circulate this image, in an apparent attempt to stir up a sectarian divide on this issue.

“These comments and this

co-ordination fall very significantly short of the behaviour that should be expected of anyone in public life.”

He claims they breach two sections of the code of conduct relating to respecting colleagues and treating them with courtesy, including on social media.

McAveety added: “In response to legitimate criticism, Susan Aitken has sought to stir up a sectarian divide that our city is trying to consign to the past.

“That is flat-out unacceptable. The leader of the council should reflect on her behaviour and whether this is the standard that Glaswegians expect.

“I have asked the Standards Commissioner to investigate this behaviour because I do not believe that it is fitting behaviour for an elected member.”

There was support for McAveety from Glasgow Tory MSP Adam Tomkins, who accused Aitken of “stirring sectarian sentiment”.

He added: “If true, I’m sure I won’t be alone in concluding she is not fit for her office.”

An SNP council spokesperson said: “This image has been publicly available for a number of years, having been published by Bella Caledonia in March 2016.

“Everyone understood that Susan’s post was clearly a joke as evidenced by the fact that nobody did anything with it.”

The fanzone row intensified when Aitken suggested the club risked fuelling sectarianism.

In a letter to the club’s managing director, Stewart Robertson, the council leader said Rangers was “conjuring up notions of conspiracy and bias” over the rejected plan.

She accused the club’s staff of “amplifying” footballing bias allegations on social media.