WITH the dust settling one week on from Rangers' heart-breaking Europa League final defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, there is an overwhelming sense of pride both on and off the park.

The players and coaching staff deserve enormous credit for their heroic efforts in reaching the climax of the competition only to be pipped to the post in the cruellest of fashions on penalties.

The supporters, who travelled in their droves to Seville, carried themselves with a dignity, colour and class that was befitting of this uniquely special football club.

Rangers wheeled out a number of legendary figures to broadcast words of advice to those venturing to the Spanish city and they were heeded with not one arrest despite upwards of 100,000 fans descending on Seville.

Their exemplary behaviour was recognised in a statement on Tuesday which read: “Rangers are immensely proud of our supporters for the spirit and character they have shown, following our club in record numbers. Our fans went to Seville and wowed locals with colour, noise and positivity and showed the true character of Rangers.”

There was more within the statement which I shall come to later. However, it’s important to note just how magnificent the support was in the days leading up to the game and afterwards also. Personally speaking, I found the city to be bustling with noise and an atmosphere unlike anything witnessed before.

Having been to Manchester for the UEFA Cup final in 2008, this was vastly different. Much of that was to do with the fact that Manchester did very little in terms of accommodating the huge swell of supporters and there was next to nothing in terms of a proper fan zone.

In Seville, as you wandered around you discovered different pockets of supporters in high spirits, often mixing with Frankfurt fans who were also lapping up the jovial atmosphere being created. Having spoken to several German supporters, it was evident they were blown away by the reception they received from the Light Blues faithful.

In the lead up to Wednesday evening, this was truly a festival of football and you felt immense pride that Glasgow Rangers were part of that.

However, the events that would unfold at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium were quite simply horrifying.

Having been in around the Rangers supporters during the day I ventured up towards the ground three hours before kick-off alongside them.

As you got closer to the stadium you could sense the atmosphere had become rather tense with the Spanish police kettling fans. For myself, I almost had to go full-blown Stan Collymore shouting “Journaliste! Journaliste!” to break through the police cordon. Fortunately, I managed to retrieve my press pass from my bag and was able to squeeze through.

READ MORE: Inside Europa League Final stadium nightmare as Rangers fan testimony exposes jaw-dropping UEFA failures

What was evident however was that there was a heavy-handed approach to dealing with the thousands of Rangers fans making their way to the venue.

It wasn’t until I made my way through security and up towards the press box, which was a challenge in itself given the steepness of the concrete steps, that the true horrors of what was unfolding began to emerge.

A close friend of mine texted me which read: “Oh mate, getting in was fucking scary. Genuinely nearly had a heart attack”

My next concern was making sure my dad made it inside the stadium trouble-free.

Fortunately, he was able to progress through the police cordons but not without incident. Like thousands of others, he was aggressively manhandled by the police decked out in heavy body armour and had to dispose of a bottle of water before entering. With a reasonable expectation that you would be able to purchase water in the stadium, it was something he and many others would have thought nothing of.

He would soon send me this photo of the concourse.

Rangers Review:

My friend, situated directly opposite the press area, also sent me a similar image.

Rangers Review:

It’s important to note the heat and humidity at this point. It was uncomfortable and energy-sapping, a quick glance at the temperature on my phone highlighted 35 degrees.

Directly below the press area was the general concourse area. It’s here where you would go to the toilet and it was noticeable even before kick-off of a huge queue for what looked like the only kiosk open.

It wasn’t until venturing downstairs at half-time that I got a true sense of the inhumane conditions supporters were experiencing. There were fans pleading for water from helpless stewards while the queue for the kiosk was enormous.

It was a similar picture elsewhere in the stadium. I was made aware the shutters were being pulled down on whatever kiosks were open with irate Frankfurt fans smashing them open only to be set upon by the Spanish police.

Those situated within the press area were in no way treated as poorly as supporters but it wasn’t until extra time that a steward presented us with bottles of water. The conditions for the press were unacceptable but it wasn’t until the following day that the true horrors of what supporters had to endure became apparent.

It was clear there was a distinct lack of water available to fans and the previously agreed decision to allow fans to enter the stadium with battery packs and AirPods was blatantly ignored by the authorities.

As word got around this was occurring, the club's Supporter Liaison Officer tweeted: "Our stewards on the ground are reporting that the police are being overzealous in search procedures and removing battery packs, ear pods, and ladies make up bags. "We have referred to UEFA security. All the above items should be allowed as they have been cleared."

After hearing a number of accounts I felt it important to dig deeper and get a true sense of what went on in the vicinity of the ground and within the bowels of the stadium.

I never envisaged the tweet I posted requesting supporters to send me their experiences to generate the reaction it did. There were literally hundreds of responses.

To each and every one of you who took the time to message me, thank you and I apologise if I haven’t replied.

READ MORE: Rangers share 'major concerns' over Seville fan treatment that caused 'severe distress'

Some of the allegations were deeply shocking:

  • a woman being manhandled in a way they felt bordered on sexual assault
  • sun cream being removed, including from someone with Albinism
  • medicine and insulin being binned 
  • a fan being told to remove a colostomy bag
  • walking sticks being taken away from the elderly and infirm

And all that's not to mention the injuries sustained by unsuspecting fans from the brutality displayed by the over-zealous Spanish police.

One fan sent me a photograph of a broken finger while another displayed severe bruising from being struck violently by a baton.

I heard stories of supporters raiding bins and searching for discarded cups so they could fill them up with the water out of the toilets before the water supply was extraordinarily turned off.

Now, being instructed to drink from the tap in Spain is bad enough but to then remove the only option to hydrate yourself is criminal. Having access to water is a basic human right and it beggars belief this last-ditch option was denied.

There were accounts of people collapsing and fainting due to the heat and lack of water available while some supporters informed me they were so desperate for fluids that they begged Leon Balogun and Jon McLaughlin to pass them the drinks that were situated in the Rangers dugout.

Kudos to both players for assisting but it is a miracle there were no significant medical casualties.

Now back to that Rangers statement, it goes on to read: “Although the result did not go our way, we will remember the build-up to the match with great fondness.

“However, we have major concerns around the treatment of our supporters at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, including the confiscation of previously approved and agreed items that were confiscated by the police and a lack of appropriate facilities within the stadium including the lack of bottled water or indeed water in the toilets which understandably caused severe distress to many supporters in the stadium.

"Rangers FC are in dialogue with both UEFA and Football Supporters Europe (FSE) regarding the issues encountered by our supporters.

"Supporters wishing to make a complaint to UEFA should be aware that UEFA have no direct grievance procedures for supporters. We would recommend that supporters contacts FSE via their away supporter’s survey which can be accessed here. FSE are an independent, non-profit association of fans recognised as a representative body on fan issues by UEFA and are submitting a full report on the experiences of supporters in Seville.

"Additionally, any supporters who have not yet shared their experience with the club and wish to do so, please email slo@rangers.co.uk by Thursday 26th May, of which a summary will be shared with UEFA.”

If you haven’t already done so please respond to the FSE survey and Supporters Liasion Officer Greg Marshall.

The conditions that both sets of fans had to endure were nothing short of diabolical and it is vital UEFA are held to account.

It’s important Rangers and Frankfurt come together and demand not only answers and explanations but force change. There are serious question marks as to why a European final was allowed to be staged at such a dilapidated venue. The steep stands themselves were a danger to supporters while the failure to provide a basic human right for the 42,000 fans was an outrage at such a prestigious and high profile event.

To put it bluntly, you wouldn't treat livestock as poorly as these fans were.

All supporters who had items needlessly binned should be compensated by an organisation that rakes in millions of pounds from trivial fines. Rangers found this to their cost against Braga at Ibrox after being carpeted for the “blocking of passageways”.

The governing body's feet must be held to the fire and this cannot be allowed to happen again but given UEFA’s disdain for the true stakeholders of the beautiful game, sadly, you wouldn’t bet against it.