Celtic may turn down tickets for Rangers match at Ibrox

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland
Celtic and Rangers players last season
Rangers and Celtic last met at Ibrox in March

Celtic may refuse tickets for next month's meeting with Rangers at Ibrox for security reasons, chief executive Peter Lawwell has told the club's AGM.

Lawwell says the club will advise fans not to attend the game if he feels there are safety concerns.

Rangers cut Celtic's away allocation in May and their city rivals responded by offering away fans fewer tickets for the September meeting at Celtic Park.

Brendan Rodgers' side won that match 1-0 thanks to an Olivier Ntcham goal.

Five people were injured trying to get into that game and the club ordered an independent review into the incident.

The reigning Scottish Premiership champions are currently top of the division - two points ahead of Steven Gerrard's team, who are third.

Following the annual meeting, Celtic said on their website:external-link "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 in September was raised."

The club also highlighted the summer transfer window "had been a frustrating one for the club", with Celtic missing out on Scotland midfielder John McGinn, who joined Aston Villa from Hibernian.

Meanwhile, Lawwell responded to a shareholder's question about sectarian and unacceptable singing from Celtic fans by saying such chanting is dragging the club down.

The chief executive said the situation is difficult to manage but agreed the problem, from a small minority, has deteriorated recently.

'Ticket question felt different this time' - analysis

It's certainly not uncommon for Celtic fans to take to the floor at the club's AGM and use up their yearly chance to ask a question of the board, by having a dig at their rivals - it's the same across the city.

I've witnessed enough of both gatherings to know it's par for the course, but the ticket allocation question from this particular meeting felt different. There was genuine concern and frustration about a situation that neither party seems particularly happy with.

The Celtic board admitted they considered "rising above" the decision of their rivals to cut the away allocation, but decided, on the grounds of sporting advantage, they simply had to respond by doing the same. The new approach has been blamed for the crush outside Celtic Park ahead of the derby in September and some Celtic fans now feel their safety could be compromised when the sides meet at Ibrox just before the year end.

If the Celtic board do indeed decide to advise fans from travelling, I would expect intervention from a league that's already less than impressed by the change. For all its ills, it's a fixture that only really becomes a spectacle when fans of both clubs have a voice - and Scottish football knows it.

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport