John Hartson's brilliant and passionate defence of Celtic as he hammers rivals for ticket saga

By David Walton

February 15, 2022

John Hartson has again moved to hammer Rangers and absolve Celtic of any blame over the current Glasgow derby ticketing scenario.

A couple of weeks ago before the Glasgow derby, Hartson pointed the finger at Rangers for the reduced allocation for away supporters at both stadiums. This season, the first 2 Glasgow derby matches have had no away fans in the ground.

Rangers Managing Director Stewart Robertson has stated this was down to uncertainty surrounding Covid and red zones. He did, however, confirm that the return of the reduced away fan allocation will return for the final 2 derbies [Sky Sports].

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Rangers previously cut Celtic’s Ibrox allocation by over 6,000 to 800 back in 2018 [The Scotsman]. The Hoops retaliated by doing the same thing to protect the integrity of the club and their supporters [Scottish Sun]. And speaking on the Go Radio Football Show tonight [15/02, 18:20], Hartson was quick to fight his old club’s corner once more:

“This is not Celtic. They only reacted to what Rangers did. They would never do that (increase away capacity first). If Rangers are going to be that shallow and stop away fans, why wouldn’t Celtic follow suit? Rangers started off by banning the Celtic away fans, or restricting them. And then Celtic reacted and thought ‘if you’re going to do that, we’ll do exactly the same. I think that’s the proper thing to do.

“Why do they have to wait for Celtic to do it and respond? At the end of the day, I feel like Rangers have pulled the plug on the Celtic fans and Celtic have reacted. It’s not both clubs. It’s Rangers denying Celtic fans into Ibrox. That’s not both clubs. Why would Celtic then give Rangers any advantage if Rangers are not prepared to give them an advantage of 7,500 people in the Broomloan?

More glory beckons as Celtic’s attention turns to Europe | Matt O’Riley and Jackie McNamara on 67HH

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67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

“I would think that’s pretty normal, it’s not about being the bigger club. Rangers started this. They decided it, and Mr Robertson this afternoon had the chance to put it right. But it has to come from both parties and I’m fed up of people saying ‘Celtic need to step up here’. Hold on a minute. No, they didn’t do this in the first place, it was Rangers who decided this no away fans.”

John Hartson talking total facts; Rangers have embarrassed themselves with Celtic ticket saga

For some reason people seem to ignore the fact that Celtic are at the table whenever Rangers are ready to crawl out of their petty little shell. They said so back when this situation began in 2018 [Scottish Sun].

I understand the media are supposed to be as neutral as possible when it comes to these issues. But that doesn’t mean just ignore cold hard facts in order to try and come across as unbiased. You’re showing clear bias towards Rangers if you think Celtic even need to lift a finger here.

Hartson is spot on and it’s refreshing to see him so passionately call out Rangers and their managing director for their immature nonsense here. But it’s disappointing that there’s still no appetite from our rivals to change things. Most likely out of stubbornness more than anything.

Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Celtic have played their hand and it’s the only hand they should be playing. If Rangers want to talk, we’re open to dialogue. It’s as simple as that. Why on earth should it be down to us to pick their toys up and put them back when they threw them out of the pram in the first place?

It’s time for Rangers as a football club to grow up and start allowing Celtic fans into the Broomloan again. That, in turn, will lead to an increased away capacity for them at Parkhead. And maybe we can get this fixture back to the atmosphere it once has, even if some have been enjoying having little of their lot inside Parkhead.

Don’t hold your breath on Rangers being proactive here though. They do enjoy being at the centre of controversy after all.

In other news, Report: Aberdeen won’t move for Bodo/Glimt boss as bizarre link emerges days before Celtic match