Gary Holt's assertion that a lack of fans helps Celtic & Rangers is looking wrong

By David Walton

August 17, 2020

Livingston manager Gary Holt’s theory on how having no fans helps the Glasgow sides has now been proved wrong twice.

Speaking in the build-up to Livingston’s 0-0 draw with Rangers yesterday, Holt stated his belief that having no fans at venues is helpful to Celtic and Rangers.

He reckoned that players can relax on the ball without being nervous or worried about fan pressure.

He said, as quoted by FourFourTwo: “I always go back to my time playing, when you go to Ibrox and Parkhead and when they come to your place and it’s a full house, and when you have a foothold in the game, the crowd can be a bit angsty. And that’s an added pressure.

“Rangers and Celtic have to win every game. That’s the pressure they are under. Their fans demand it. Their stature demands it.

“With no fans there it takes away that little bit of pressure, you can just play and make mistakes, play and make mistakes, and eventually good players will step up.”

Livingston boss Gary Holt (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It was odd that the Livi boss said it when he did. Celtic had only just been stifled in a 1-1 draw at Rugby Park just days beforehand.

That was then followed up with yesterday’s 0-0 stalemate between Livi and Rangers. Neither side looked as though they were helped with a lack of supporters. Energy and zip were lacking in both games.

Stat-tracking website WhoScored state that Celtic only managed two shots on target against Kilmarnock.

Rangers, meanwhile, ended the match at the Tony Macaroni Arena with only three shots on target. That was despite having over 78% possession of the ball.

Is there a counter-argument?

This argument that having no fans at games is starting to look like a myth. If anything, you could easily counter-argue that.

Surely, if you’re going by the lack of goalscoring opportunities for both Celtic and Rangers in their latest away matches, you could say that not having fans is holding them back.

Celtic struggled to look impressive at Kilmarnock (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The roar from the away fans in the final few minutes can sometimes be the difference. It’s what can light the fuse in certain players and drag them into making one or two more goalscoring chances.

Without that atmosphere, both Celtic and Rangers ended their matches against Kilmarnock and Livingston in timid fashion. Both of the non-Glasgow outfits easily managed to see their respective games out.

It seems like it’s an easy excuse for opposition managers to have before the game kicks-off. Perhaps it can be used for the media if worse comes to worst and they get a going over.

However, so far, the lack of atmosphere inside away grounds doesn’t seem to be helping either side.

Hopefully, it’s something Celtic can get used to before their rivals do.

In other news, Shane Duffy is said to be pushing for a move to Celtic, despite Brighton’s reservations.