According to reports in the press, and following on from what this site and others have written in the last few months, Celtic will formally refuse to accept Ibrox’s “offer” of 700 tickets for the 3 September match, on the grounds that it is manifestly unsafe.
The Daily Record has started the ball rolling on the media spin by referring to this as a continuation of “the lockout.” It nothing of the sort. No-one is being “locked out” here; our club have refused an offered allocation because it does not offer sufficient protection to our fans. That’s the story, not some bollocks about a tit-for-tat battle which exists only in their own minds.
If the media focussed on the important element of this instead of on the soap opera, we might actually be further along in finding a solution. It’s not just lazy journalism but a wilful choice not to confront the real issue here and the causes of it.
As I wrote this morning, Ibrox’s appallingly selfish act continues to have negative consequences for the whole game.
I have particularly focussed on the away match experience, and the implications for atmosphere and even club’s finances … someone urged me the other day to consider, in addition, the impact of depriving cities all over the country of large numbers of our fans twice a year, the lack of which will have a severe impact on local commerce.
I hadn’t even thought of that, but it’s now something I need to look into.
But clearly, the paramount consideration should be whether the arrangements that are made for such a small number of our traveling supporters is even safe.
We know that at Ibrox this is most certainly not the case, and Celtic have been left mightily unimpressed by the attitudes of people over there when we’ve raised our concerns.
But there are now clearly wider implications here, and it’s possible that our decision on Ibrox will be the model for how we deal with other clubs who would put our fans at risk by cutting the numbers to such a preposterously low figure.
Ibrox is a special case in some ways because our fans have actually been targeted there, but similar scenes could easily happen at Tynecastle and, if reports last night are true, also at Aberdeen.
Celtic should strongly consider turning those tickets down as well. This matter needs to be brought to a head, and if our club takes the lead and condemns these plans on the grounds of safety, that will bring us to a solution much quicker than anything else.
Somebody needs to show appropriate leadership, even if that step is forced on them. We can take the lead in pushing this issue to the crisis point, and it will get to that point whether we do it or not, so we’re only bringing it closer, not forcing their hand.
We’re the biggest club in the country, and if we take this stand and do it in a way that strips the media of its greatest weapon – trying to make this into an issue involving an “us and them” battle – and focussing people on the wider problem, even our governing bodies have to take a decision to act.
Out of this moment, we can forge a solution.