January 2, 1971: Ibrox stadium disaster claims 66 lives

On this day in 1971, 66 football fans were killed following a match between Celtic and Rangers at the Ibrox Park stadium in Glasgow.

The worst disaster in the history of Scottish football occurred on this day in 1971, when 66 people died and over 200 were injured in a crush of departing fans at Ibrox Park, Glasgow, the home ground of Rangers FC.

Some 80,000 had been watching Rangers play their ‘Old Firm’ rivals Celtic.

When the visitors scored in the final minute of normal time, scores of home supporters decided it was time to leave the ground.

Many departing fans began chose to make their way down staircase 13 - a long concrete structure leading away from the terracing down a steep bank.

The accepted belief is that someone tripped and fell forwards down the stairs, causing a chain reaction in which people in front of them also fell. As more and more tumbled in a domino effect, barriers gave way and the momentum of falling fans crushed those in front of them.

Police and emergency services were on the scene in minutes, but little could be done for those who had borne the brunt of the crush under a tangle of bodies up to six feet deep. Most of the deaths were caused by compressive asphyxia.Bodies of those that had died were brought back into the stadium and laid under sheets on the touchline as the evening mist began to descend.


The disaster led to a huge redevelopment of Ibrox. Three-quarters of the stadium gained modern all-seater stands over a three-year period, converting it to a 44,000-capacity ground.

The death toll remained the highest at a British football stadium until the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

[Read more: May 11, 1975 - Football fans perish in Bradford City stadium fire]

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