Rangers and Kilmarnock have again clashed over ticketing issues that allegedly caused a “crush” among the travelling support on the opening day of the Scottish Premiership season.
The Glasgow side visited Rugby Park on Sunday August 4, with many Rangers fans stuck outside due to printing problems with the tickets.
On Wednesday, Rangers issued a statement through supporters group Club 1872 claiming “fans were being crushed and in a state of alarm” outside the ground.
Rangers have provided an extensive response to Club 1872 regarding safety issues at our recent visit to Rugby Park https://t.co/Q6A0oGVN2U
— Club 1872 (@Club1872rfc) August 14, 2019
They also demanded an apology from the Ayrshire side after fans group The Killie Trust criticised the Rangers support over the “shameful” scenes.
Following a meeting between bosses, Club 1872’s statement said: “There was no recognisable plan of action to deal with such a situation and it was very close to kick-off before someone thought the problem … should be brought to the attention of the police.
“By that time some Rangers fans were being crushed and in a state of alarm, and there are many testimonies which bear that out.
“Kilmarnock has accepted their ticketing system failed (and that there had been problems with it at the game against Connahs Quay Nomads) despite one of their directors promoting the irresponsible notion there had been no operational problems.”
They added: “We would hope to receive a retraction and an apology from Kilmarnock for having pointed the finger of blame at Rangers fans for the issues which arose ahead of kick-off.
“No-one at the debriefing disputed the view that there would not have been congestion and supporters would have gained admission smoothly and safely had the system operated properly. This view is supported by Police Scotland.”
TV footage also appeared to show a number of fans climbing on to the disabled fans’ shelter, which collapsed as the jubilant fans jumped up and down following the winning goal.
Club 1872 condemned the behaviour of those fans, adding they would be “dealt with appropriately as soon as they are identified”.
The group’s statement said: “Although there has been an attempt to roll everything that happened at Rugby Park into one issue it is important to retain a sense of perspective and balance.
“The congestion before the match had no bearing on what happened at the end of the game when Rangers fans went on to the pitch to celebrate a late winning goal.
“Their presence on the pitch cannot be condoned and Rangers are working with Police Scotland to identify and trace those who crossed the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.”
They added: “The same applies to the handful of fans who jumped on to the roof of the enclosure reserved for disabled supporters causing that covering to collapse.
“Their behaviour endangered the safety of their fellow fans and we are fortunate no-one was badly hurt.
“Those fans will also be dealt with appropriately as soon as they are identified.
“Rangers believes the safety of all fans to be paramount and will not tolerate this kind of behaviour whether away or at home.”
Kilmarnock FC said they noted with “disappointment that Rangers Football Club has issued a statement via Club 1872” with the investigation process ongoing.
Their statement said: “A printing issue in relation to a number of tickets in the Chadwick Stand caused a delay in some supporters gaining entry to the stadium.
“This was not a system-wide failure with the ticketing system and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate.
“Kilmarnock Football Club does not accept that this delay gave Rangers supporters good reason to break through a gate and enter the ground.”
The statement added: “We had hoped to continue with the constructive approach taken in the meeting last week and had offered to work with Rangers Football Club in advance of future fixtures.
“As Rangers have recognised, problems before the match had no bearing on the incident at the second goal when Rangers supporters entered the field of play and damaged the disabled roof covering to the point of collapse.
“It was extremely fortunate that no disabled supporters were seriously injured.
“We look forward to Rangers Football Club taking action to identify those responsible and dealing with those fans appropriately.”