By By Andy Newport
The ‘Rangers Five’ will be able to take part in the Ibrox trophy day celebrations after being issued with immediate four-match bans for their Covid-19 breach.
First-team players Nathan Patterson, Bongani Zungu and Calvin Bassey plus academy youngsters Brian Kinnear and Dapo Mebude, who is on loan at Queen of the South, were charged by the Scottish Football Association after flouting lockdown rules by attending an illegal house party last month.
Their punishment – which also includes another suspended two-match ban – means Patterson, Zungu and Bassey will still be able to feature again for Steven Gerrard’s newly-crowned champions this season as they look to complete an unbeaten Premiership campaign as well as lifting the Scottish Cup.
The Light Blues are set to finally get their hands on the Premiership trophy after a 10-year wait when they round off the campaign at home to Aberdeen on May 15.
The ruling also opens up the slim possibility of 19-year-old Patterson playing his way into Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for the Euros if Gerrard’s team can beat Cove Rangers in their opening cup tie on Sunday.
The young right-back has impressed in recent weeks after stepping up to fill in for injured skipper James Tavernier but Clarke is reluctant to pick a player who has still only made 12 first-team appearances – half of those off the bench.
Rangers 5 all hit with six match bans - four immediate, two suspended - for breaching Covid rules.
An Ibrox source tells PA: "We are considering all our options and will make further comment if required."
— Andy Newport (@AndyNewportPA) March 30, 2021
The bans will come as a relief to the players after seeing Ibrox team-mates Jordan Jones and George Edmundson banned for seven games for a similar breach in November.
The latest incident saw police called out to break up an illegal gathering in a property in Glasgow’s West End in the early hours of February 14.
Patterson and co have already been fined by Gerrard for their involvement, which they later apologised for in an interview with the club’s TV channel.
The boss said he had been “let down” by the behaviour of his players, revealing they had had been left in “no uncertain terms” about what is expected of them after they were allowed to rejoin his squad following a period of self-isolation.
The players were charged with breaching the SFA’s disciplinary rule 24, which requires players to comply with coronavirus rules. They were also accused of breaching rule 77, which covers the failure “to act in the best interests of Association Football”.
An Ibrox source told the PA news agency: “We are considering all our options and will make further comment if required.”