Rangers defender Bilel Mohsni punched and kicked Motherwell striker Lee Erwin as unsavoury scenes broke out after the Steelmen’s 3-0 win at Fir Park which retained their Scottish Premiership status.
BT Sport cameras showed 21-year-old Erwin approached Mohsni following the final whistle to shake hands but the Tunisian centre-back apparently told him to “f*** off”.
Erwin then shoved Mohsni, who reacted by physically attacking his opponent before officials intervened.
The brawl resulted in red cards being issued by referee Craig Thomson in the dressing rooms for Erwin, Mohsni and Motherwell’s unused substitute Fraser Kerr, who got involved with Mohsni as the melee between both sets of players ensued.
Motherwell fans also flocked onto the pitch and ran towards the Rangers supporters – most of which had already left – to gloat about the result.
Stewards and police officers eventually ushered them away while mounted police directed supporters back into the stands.
Mohsni lashed out at Erwin, leaving him with a wound on his face which was visible when he re-emerged with the rest of the Motherwell players for their lap of honour to say goodbye to the fans.
Mohsni continued to act violently as players and coaching staff tried to restrain him and as he walked down the tunnel where it is understood there were further exchanges with McCall also believed to have spoken to a Motherwell fan shouting at Mohsni.
It is also reported that Mohsni had to be restrained from leaving the Rangers bus afterwards to have another confrontation with Erwin.
The Motherwell forward described Mohsni’s actions as “embarrassing for him and the club” in an interview with BT Sport afterwards.
He said: “I tried to shake Mohsni’s hand to wish him all the best but he told me to ‘f*** off’. I pushed him away and he reacted badly.
“A player at a club at that level shouldn’t be acting like that. It’s embarrassing for him and the club. But I wish him all the best.”
Mohsni, though, has defended his actions and said Erwin made him fear for his own safety, calling the Motherwell player ‘a coward’.
“What do you call someone who attacks you from behind? A coward. I was worried about my security so I did the only thing I could,” Mohsni said.
“He says I swore at him. I never swore. My mum used to say to me that when you swear at someone it is like you want to fight with them. She educated me properly.”
Police Scotland will also investigate the fight by reviewing footage and liaising with both clubs in the coming days, assistant chief constable Bernard Higgins has confirmed.
Rangers have confirmed they will fully co-operate with the investigation.
“Bilel Mohsni’s behaviour was completely unacceptable and had his contract not now expired, the club would have started disciplinary proceedings,” Rangers said in a statement.
“The club will also assist with any investigation into the behaviour of Motherwell supporters and we would like to thank the Rangers fans who were excellent in showing admirable restraint despite severe provocation.”
Rangers manager Stuart McCall said he missed the incident but acknowledged such behaviour was “unacceptable” and “disgraceful”.
McCall also suggested that if Mohsni – whose contract expires next month – had acted in such an aggressive manner that he would not be at the club next term although his own future is also in doubt.
Motherwell boss Ian Baraclough described it as “an outpouring of emotions which has gone too far” and said that “Scottish football doesn’t need it”.
“The two games were played in a decent spirit and to have that at the end just has no place in this game at all,” he added.
Both clubs are likely to be heavily censured by the SFA with the SPFL also likely to take further action against Motherwell after Rangers captain Lee McCulloch was struck on the face with a flag by a supporter and a flare was thrown onto the pitch after the first goal was scored.
Motherwell extended their 30-year stay in Scotland’s top-flight by completing a comfortable 6-1 aggregate win to deny Rangers a third successive promotion.
Marvin Johnson broke the deadlock on 51 minutes as his shot took a wicked deflection off Marius Zaliukas and found the net after a howler from Gers goalkeeper Cammy Bell.
Lionel Ainsworth doubled the lead with another deflected strike 20 minutes from time and substitute John Sutton stroked home from the penalty spot in stoppage time as the Steelmen guaranteed their survival in style.