THE atmosphere at Scottish football’s most high-profile game is set to undergo radical change after Celtic swiftly hit back at Rangers’ decision to slash their Ibrox ticket allocation.
Rangers announced that all clubs would be handed a corner section of Ibrox next season amid “unprecedented levels of support” from their own fans, resulting in Celtic’s allocation being cut from more than 7,000 to around 900. All other clubs are already limited to the same figure in Ladbrokes Premiership matches.
Celtic soon confirmed the reciprocal agreement that has seen a similar amount of Gers fans visit Celtic Park had well and truly come to an end.
Ibrox and Celtic Park are set to be more than 98 per cent full of home fans during league games next season, which will significantly alter the spectacle and nature of the atmosphere.
Rangers’ decision comes amid a run of 11 derbies without victory over Celtic – including four consecutive home defeats – and on the back of increased demand for season tickets following the appointment of Steven Gerrard as manager.
The Light Blues received “more than 40,000 renewals” before the deadline and are now set to announce plans to open up the process to new season ticket holders.
A club statement read: “We have already received an enormous number of requests in advance of the close of the renewal date and we have had to consider carefully how best to accommodate these supporters in light of the record renewals.
“Our supporters will always come first and as many of them as practically possible must be accommodated. That is why the club has decided on an overall increase in the total number of season tickets available to our supporters to what will be a historical record.
“An unfortunate consequence of putting our supporters first is that this increased demand negatively impacts on the number of tickets which will be allocated to visiting teams. This means all visiting fans will now be situated in the corner between the Broomloan and Sandy Jardine Stands.
“We believe that this is the best possible outcome after considering the unprecedented levels of support from Rangers fans.”
Celtic’s response came inside 90 minutes of the statement going up on the Rangers website. Neither club mentioned each other by name.
The Scottish champions said: “An unprecedented Double Treble and historic season for the club has led to a phenomenal level of demand from supporters to be part of Celtic.
“We are happy to reciprocate in terms of ticket allocation, something which will give us the opportunity to meet this huge demand to visit Celtic Park.”
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