Glasgow Derby Tickets

The year is 2018. On the 4th of March, fans of the youngest professional team in Scotland celebrate drawing their Glasgow neighbours in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup, emboldened by a four-game winning streak and a 0-0 draw in the Ne’erday Derby under the fearless Graeme Murty.

But first, there’s the formality of taking care of the Champions at Ibrox on 29th March. All is going well with Douglas Ross and Alfredo Morelos combining to reduce Celtic to ten men with the score locked at 2-2 with 30 minutes left to play. It’s on a plate for the upstart club to put the big Bhoys in their place. Up step Odsonne Edouard, who came off the bench to score the winner and create the iconic image celebrating in front of the Broomloan Stand.

Fast forward to the 24th of May, and following chastening 4-0 (cup) and 5-0 (league title clincher) defeats the Sevco board – at the encouragement of their supporters – fight back off the pitch since they can’t do it on the grass.

The narrative is of course that they are capitalising on a wave of optimism around Steven Gerrard’s appointment and not that they’re chucking the toys out the pram because they don’t want chief antagonists Scott Brown, Leigh Griffiths and Mikael Lustig celebrating in front of 7000 Celtic fans in their own dilapidated home.

In July, Celtic publicly criticised the move while the SPFL washed their hands of it saying the two clubs should sort it out between them.

And as each Derby game came and passed the debate surfaced and went away again without any change. Then COVID struck the SPFL in March 2020 on the eve of a Derby and no fans were allowed in at all for a year and a half.

When fans did return, ‘red zones’ needed to be setup for players and staff of both teams which meant the dislocation of home supporters and the SPFL temporarily waiving Rule I27:

“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.”

The Ibrox club asked for guarantees of reciprocity from Celtic before giving away tickets to the September 2021 Derby which was of course not something within the power of the Celtic board to give as the rules for attendance are/were superseded by ScotGov and the SPFL. This prescient declination was proven correct when ScotGov forbid any more than 500 fans from attending the scheduled Derby on 2nd January 2022. If the Celtic board had given the requested guarantees, and the Sevco/Ross County cabal had their desire of games going ahead as scheduled then the Derby at Celtic Park would have been attended by 500 Sevco fans and 0 Celtic fans!

So two Derbys done with 100% home fans (after some rescheduling) and now we’re back to square one with the same problem that no-one outside of Ibrox is happy with.

I have a possible solution…

Force the hand of the SPFL.

I assume that no guarantees have been given around ticket allocations for the currently unscheduled post-split Derby at Celtic Park. If Celtic were to cut the allocation to something ridiculous – say 50-100 tickets – in restricted view seating, then either Sevco can swallow that or they will be forced to open up a dialogue with the SPFL in arbitration.

Assuming that all public statements are sincere then it would bring the Ibrox club into the same group of unhappy parties.

The crux here is to stress-test the word ‘reasonable’ in Rule I27.

We can point to the fan crush that eventuated in 2018 as a result of these new arrangements and say that we don’t feel we can safely accommodate 700 of their fans walking up and they can only have as many as they can fit on two buses that park up next to the turnstiles. This will allow the safe free flow of Celtic fans that we saw at the February 2022 Derby.

If Sevco don’t think that’s ‘reasonable’ then so be it. The dialogue around what that word means can begin and maybe we can have a proper rule like UEFA have for away fan allocation.

“38.01 Home clubs must make at least 5% of the total approved UEFA capacity of their stadium available exclusively to visiting supporters, in a segregated, safe area.”

I appreciate that it is stooping to their level but so far they have fully dictated what is happening around ticket allocation, and as long as they are having their way, and the SPFL refuse to intervene, then that won’t change. This is not a game of one-upmanship – it is forcing our incompetent governing body to do what they should be doing – govern Scottish Football.

– Sean, 24th March 2022

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