No away fans for Celtic-Rangers final fixtures


Old Firm without away fans Image: Celtic FC

The final two Old Firm (collective names for the Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers based in Glasgow, UK) fixtures of the Premiership campaign will be played with no away fans (supporters of the team that is not playing at their own ground) either at the Parkhead (Celtic home) or at the Ibrox Stadium (Rangers home).

‘GlasgowTimes’ stated that Michael Beale’s (coach of Rangers F.C.) side are due to make the trip across Glasgow on April 8th for the third league meeting this term and no date has yet been set for the fourth fixture that will take place after the top flight split.

The Old Firm is the collective name for the Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers, which are both based in Glasgow, Scotland (UK). The two clubs are the most successful and popular in Scotland, and the rivalry between them has become deeply embedded in Scottish culture. It has reflected and contributed to political, social and religious division and sectarianism in Scotland. As a result, the fixture has had an enduring appeal around the world.

The Celtic Football Club, commonly known as Celtic, is a Scottish professional football club based in Glasgow, Scotland (UK) which plays in the Scottish Premiership. The club was founded in 1887 with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the immigrant Irish population in the East End of Glasgow.

The Celtic Park is the home stadium of the Celtic Football Club, in the Parkhead area of Glasgow, Scotland. With a capacity of 60,832, it is the largest football stadium in Scotland, and the eighth-largest stadium in the United Kingdom. It is also known as Parkhead or Paradise.

The Rangers Football Club is a Scottish professional football club based in the Govan district of Glasgow which plays in the Scottish Premiership. Although not its official name, it is often referred to as Glasgow Rangers outside Scotland.

The Ibrox Stadium is a football stadium on the South side of the River Clyde in the Ibrox area of Glasgow, Scotland. The home of Rangers Football Club, the Ibrox is the third largest football stadium in Scotland, with an all-seated capacity of 50,817.

The Scottish Premiership, known as the cinch Premiership for sponsorship reasons, is the top division of the Scottish Professional Football League, the league competition for men’s professional football clubs in Scotland.

The Scottish Premiership splits into two sections in order to minimize the fixture burden on clubs. Scotland’s top division was expanded to include 12 teams from the 2000-2001 seasons on and the split concept was introduced at that time to avoid the need for each team to fulfill 44 games. Prior to the 2000-2001 seasons, 10 teams competed in the league and they played each other four times – a total of 36 matches. What happens now is that each team play each other three times, bringing the number of games to 33 and the league is then divided into two six-team sections. Each team within a particular section plays the other five teams in their section once, bringing the total number of games played in the league season to 38.

‘GlasgowTimes’ further stated that both of those clashes will be attended by home supporters only following discussions between the clubs in recent days.

The Old Firm showdowns have had limited traveling supports for several seasons now and around 800 fans are housed at the Ibrox and Parkhead as the away side finds themselves outnumbered off the park.

It has been agreed by both the clubs that this is the best way forward and a joint decision has been reached that will once again dramatically change the sight and sound of derby day (any sporting event featuring a pair of sports teams engaged in a local rivalry) in Glasgow after issues at both the stadia in recent campaigns.

Earlier this month, Rangers fan Alan Crawford pleaded guilty to throwing a bottle at Celtic physio Daniel Friel, who needed four stitches and has been left with a scar on his scalp, during the Ibrox fixture last April.

Rangers were “disappointed” with the police response during the 1-1 draw at Parkhead last May and stated their fans were “left unprotected as they were attacked by bottles and other missiles” amid injuries to the elderly and disabled supporters.

And the situation regarding ingress and egress at Parkhead remains an issue for the Rangers as away fans are forced to gather two hours ahead of kick-off and remain in the stadium for a prolonged period post-match.

It is understood that the decision to ban away supporters has now been taken in order to provide time to find solutions to sort out various arrangements at both stadia.

That will not, however, include Rangers handing over the entire Broomloan Road stand to the Celtic fans and increasing the allocation to the previous levels of around 8,000 briefs.

That option is not on the table for ‘The Light Blues’ board after the decision was made to sell those seats to the season ticket holders and they will not be displaced for the Old Firm fixtures going forward.

The decision has been made to remove away allocations for the next two league matches and supporters will be told officially sooner rather than later.

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