Today’s decision by the Joint Response Group means that Celtic can allow away fans back at our ground; I wrote last month that any change back to the normal regulations would guarantee the Ibrox fans an allocation at Celtic Park.
Well today merely relaxes the legal requirement for those regulations. The simple fact is, our club is not obliged to allow away fans into the ground and in circumstances where they do they will be able to do it via their own in-house risk assessment.
If Celtic decides, after such an assessment, that allowing Ibrox fans into the stadium is unsafe or risks the health protocols, they won’t be in the ground. To be blunt, I don’t believe it would be difficult for our club to make such a case.
The JRG regulations allowed for us to exclude away fans.
At Ibrox they used the system to make sure that we had none in their ground.
We will almost certainly respond in kind; I doubt Ibrox fans will be at Celtic Park until all the restrictions are lifted and we’re completely free of concern.
Those regulations have not been rescinded today; if they had, we would have no choice in the matter.
We’d have fallen back on standard SPFL regulations and they guarantee an away allocation.
Whilst we’re still in this situation we must consider all elements of safety and security as well as the impact of the virus on our fans, and I cannot see a way of housing their supporters safely in our ground with the complexity that such an operation would entail.
Celtic will be well within their rights to restrict away allocations to a bare minimum as those clubs which have given us an allocation have done.
We will also be fully entitled to deny fans entirely to those clubs where admitting them presents additional security hazards above and beyond the norm; that will certainly apply to our neighbours across town.
Provided we give the Ibrox club plenty of notice, we are fully entitled to refuse them tickets. If the club decides to do so there will be a lot of wailing and whingeing. We should consider it white noise and ignore it. We didn’t start this. We didn’t want it. That was them.