Scottish Premiership football club Celtic has said it may refuse tickets for its forthcoming ‘Old Firm’ clash at bitter rival Rangers due to security concerns over the fixture at Ibrox stadium.
The announcement marks the latest development in a dispute that began back in May. At the time, Rangers announced they were prepared to cut thousands of tickets for their Glasgow rivals in Steven Gerrard’s first season as manager.
Rangers reported record season-ticket renewals of more than 40,000, leading them to release a statement restricting “all visiting fans” to the corner of the ground situated between the Broomloan and Sandy Jardine stands. This change means Celtic fans will see a reduction of more than 6,000 tickets when they visit Ibrox as they are usually allocated the entire Broomloan Stand.
Celtic responded in kind by offering Rangers fans fewer tickets for the September meeting at Celtic Park. In the wake of the September 2 game, Celtic and Scotland Police said they were reviewing procedures after five people were injured while attending the Old Firm match.
Celtic won the meeting 1-0, but home fans reported severe congestion under the north stand at Celtic Park before kick-off. The two teams are due to meet again at Ibrox on December 29. The allocation of tickets for Celtic supporters has already been cut to around 800, and shareholders this week expressed their concern for the safety of away fans at the club’s annual general meeting.
In a statement, Celtic said: “The club confirmed that there are ongoing discussions with the relevant bodies, as well as supporters’ groups, before making a final decision on whether to recommend that no tickets should be taken for the fixture.
“The safety of Celtic supporters is always the number one priority for the board, something which was also stressed when crowding problems at the Celtic v Rangers game at Celtic Park back in September was raised.”
Image: Brian Aitkenhead