The Ibrox CEO Stewart Robertson is all over the papers today, giving a series of interviews in which he paints himself and his board as the heroes who saved the club. Otherwise to be forever known as the Peepul who pissed £100 million against the wall.
Most of it is powderpuff stuff, and I’ll get into some of it later, but one of the things he’s said has to be challenged and put right immediately, because it’s an outright lie that involves our club. It is, of course, in relation to the away fan ticket situation.
He repeats the Ibrox mantra that they are “happy with the ticket situation” in that the allocations have been so dramatically cut. He is entitled to hold that view. It is appeasement to the worst element of the fan-base, but that’s his problem, not ours, and if he wants to let them rule the roost then that’s his own lookout.
But he then goes on to discuss the situation with the tickets as it currently stands, wherein both clubs played in front of only home fans. He makes a claim during that segment which I know for a fact to be utterly false, and I don’t think that his version of the story should be the one to have prominence. He claims that both clubs discussed, and agreed, that there would be no away fans because of the need for the Red Zones.
“Because of the Covid situation we had back in August, the two clubs got together agreed that we wouldn’t have away fans. Because we had red zones, we weren’t sure what the situation was going to be for that period of time.”
The two clubs did not “get together” and agree anything. Celtic believed that there was an agreement in place and actually had hundreds of tickets for Ibrox sitting in one of the administration offices at Parkhead, ready to be sent out.
And then Ibrox made an impossible demand on us, that we guarantee an away allocation for their own supporters.
Celtic told them that this was something we certainly wished we could do, but we didn’t know what the situation would be later in the season with the virus and variants … a position which turned out to be prophetic, considering the Celtic Park game at New Year was, initially, supposed to take place in front of entirely empty stands.
At that point, they invalidated every single one of our away tickets. Celtic made it clear what the consequences of that would be, and they followed through as they did when Ibrox told them that the away allocations were being cut a few years ago.
There was no discussion between the clubs though, just a decision that they took in a moment of spite, taking advantage of the regulations to impose an even greater ban on our fans. From the first moment to the last of the present health crisis they have sought every advantage no matter how narrow and no matter how petty.
His suggestion that there was an “agreement” between the clubs is absolutely false. They took a dire decision, at the last second, just to frustrate our club and our club responded by telling them that they would have no away fans at Celtic Park.
If that’s an agreement, it’s the sort made by two people pointing guns at each other. Relations between these two clubs are at rock bottom.