There will be no Celtic fans at the first Old Firm match this season, live on Sky Sports; Rangers had offered the Parkhead club 708 tickets for the September 3 clash but that was refused due to safety concerns; Rangers expect an allocation at Parkhead in December
By Sahil Jaidka, Sky Sports Scotland Editor @SahilJaidka
Sky Sports News understands there will be no Celtic fans at Ibrox for the first Old Firm clash of the season – and that lockout could extend to the game at Parkhead in December.
Rangers are believed to have offered Celtic an allocation of 708 tickets for the meeting at Ibrox on September 3, live on Sky Sports.
However, that proposal appears to have been turned down by Parkhead bosses due to ongoing concerns over fan safety.
While Rangers are understood to have proposed extra measures – some provisions such as netting around the away corner at Ibrox would not be ready for next month.
Last season saw the final two Old Firm league games take place without any away supporters due to safety issues following incidents at both grounds in previous matches.
Despite Celtic turning down the offer of tickets at Ibrox for next month’s match due to those security concerns, Rangers are still understood to be expecting an away allocation at Celtic Park when the sides meet there on December 30, live on Sky Sports.
The Ibrox club have contacted the SPFL informally over the matter, however, it is understood Celtic’s position on the issue will not change and therefore that game could also see no away fans permitted.
Sky Sports News also understands while any of the 42 SPFL clubs can write to the SPFL board to seek a determination on such an issue, no formal request has been received from any club this season.
Celtic have been keen on away allocations returning to previous numbers. Historically they were given the full Broomloan Road end at Ibrox but that allocation of around 7,000 was cut to around 800 in 2018 – in line with other Premiership club allocations.
Following that, Celtic reduced Rangers’ allocation for games in the East End of Glasgow.
Bisgrove on talks over Old Firm away support
New Rangers chief executive James Bisgrove told Sky Sports in May that talks to restore part of the Old Firm away allocation were underway, with negotiations taking place with “relevant stakeholders” including Police Scotland for a revised plan.
“For next season, the season tickets have not been sold in the corner of the Govan Stand, where the allocation was previously,” he said.
“So we do have the opportunity should we decide to restore that allocation of about 700-800, that’s our maximum.
“Beyond that it’s a broader conversation. We need to have that dialogue with those stakeholders because there’s a lot of different views on it.”
Bisgrove also stated he did not anticipate a return to the original allocation in the near future.
“We’ll take the decision that is right for Rangers and right for our supporters.
“I know the question is, ‘is there the chance to go back to the traditional allocation of the 8,000?’ I think that’s unlikely.
“We need to see where the conversations go. But I don’t think that is imminent at the moment.”
McGregor wants full away allocation to return
Speaking before last season’s final two league meetings, Celtic captain Callum McGregor urged the clubs to return to full away allocations for Old Firm games after admitting it is detracting from the “spectacle”.
“Hopefully as a spectacle we can get it back to what it was a few years ago when there were bigger [away] crowds within the stadium. I think it does add a little bit of something different.
“Of course, we have to accept it for the time being but my thoughts are hopefully we can get back to the bigger allocation that we had a few years ago.
“It’s a hard enough fixture to go there with fans, never mind without fans.
What do the rules say?
Rule i27 of the rules of the SPFL states: “The Home club must make provision for the admission of such reasonable number of visiting supporters at every home League Match and Play-Off Match as may be agreed in advance with the Visiting Club and, in the event of their being unable to agree such number not later than 14 days prior to the date of the League Match or Play-Off Match in question, the number of visiting supporters allowed shall be determined by the Board whose decision shall be final and binding.”
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