Celtic may refuse tickets for next months meeting with Rangers at Ibrox for security reasons, chief executive Peter Lawwell has told the clubs AGM.
Rangers cut Celtics away allocation in May and their city rivals responded by offering away fans fewer tickets for the September meeting at Celtic Park.
Five people were injured trying to get into that game and the club ordered an independent review into the incident.
The reigning Scottish Premiership champions are currently top of the division – two points ahead of Steven Gerrards team, who are third.
Following the annual meeting, Celtic said on their website: “There are ongoing discussions with the relevant bodies, as well as supporters groups, before making a final decision on whether to recommend that no tickets should be taken for the fixture.
“The safety of Celtic supporters is always the number one priority for the board, something which was also stressed when crowding problems at the Celtic v Rangers game in September was raised.”
The club also highlighted the summer transfer window “had been a frustrating one for the club”, with Celtic missing out on Scotland midfielder John McGinn, who joined Aston Villa from Hibernian.
Meanwhile, Lawwell responded to a shareholders question about sectarian and unacceptable singing from Celtic fans by saying such chanting is dragging the club down.
The chief executive said the situation is difficult to manage but agreed the problem, from a small minority, has deteriorated recently.
Its certainly not uncommon for Celtic fans to take to the floor at the clubs AGM and use up their yearly chance to ask a question of the board, by having a dig at their rivals – its the same across the city.
Ive witnessed enough of both gatherings to know its par for the course, but the ticket allocation question from this particular meeting felt different. There was genuine concern and frustration about a situation that neither party seems particularly happy with.
The Celtic board admitted they considered “rising above” the decision of their rivals to cut the away allocation, but decided, on the grounds of sporting advantage, they simply had to respond by doing the same. The new approach has been blamed for the crush outside Celtic Park ahead of the derby in September and some Celtic fans now feel their safety could be compromised when the sides meet at Ibrox just before the year end.
If the Celtic board do indeed decide to advise fans from travelling, I would expect intervention from a league thats already less than impressed by the change. For all its ills, its a fixture that only really becomes a spectacle when fans of both clubs have a voice – and Scottish football knows it.
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Speaking at todays AGM, one supporter voiced concerns for Celts supporters travelling to Govan for the next derby on December 29
PETER LAWWELL will urge Celtic supporters to boycott next months Old Firm clash at Ibrox – IF their safety cannot be guaranteed.
The Hoops chief executive admitted he will seriously consider refusing Rangers allocation of only 800 away tickets.
Speaking at his clubs AGM, Lawwell confirmed he will seek assurances from Police Scotland and Gers security chiefs before making a final decision.
Celtic are extremely concerned about the logistics of getting fans in and out of Ibrox for the derby on December 29.
The champions were angered when their bitter rivals slashed the away allocation for derbies from 7000 earlier this season.
That prompted a tit-for-tat response from the Hoops for the first Old Firm clash of the season in September, which they won 1-0.
Asked if he would consider a ticket ban, Lawwell said: I wouldnt discount that possibility but we need to find out a little bit more.
If we definitely feel it is an unsafe environment that would a strong recommendation and we may not take tickets.
I dont think we could give a copper-bottomed assurance because it is not our event. I think we can only give guidance and wait for feedback.
It is possible we could recommend to our supporters we dont take tickets. But we will do that in consultation with their wants and wishes.
Lawwells comments were roundly applauded by a packed AGM crowd in the Kerrydale Suite at Celtic Park.
Boss Brendan Rodgers made his displeasure perfectly clear at the time although both men put on a united front insisting talk of a breakdown in their relationship had been greatly exaggerated.
Rodgers said: The success weve had in the last two and a half years has been about this collective.
A collective performance on the pitch because that, for me, is where it all starts. And very importantly off the pitch.
I cant pretend that I wasnt disappointed in the summer. I think we all see that Im not very good at hiding it.
Were all human. When you work closely with people, like youll do at work or in your relationships, its not always singing and dancing every single day.
What you can always say about the board here is their job is always to future-proof the club. This club has been run immaculately for a number of years.
The guys who are here do an incredible job collectively with me and the team in order to be the best we can be.
For two and a half years, the supporters, the board, the management, weve all been one. And well continue to be one.
Weve had disappointment in the summer and, like I say, we couldnt hide that. But my ambition is exactly the same as the boards. They want it to be the very best.
Hopefully in January if the players are available and affordable we can look to develop and improve the squad.
But he was adamant Celtic did everything in their power to sign John McGinn, who joined Aston Villa in a £2.6million deal from Hibs.
But, it was a window where we broke a transfer record by paying 10m euros for one player. Thats a fact.
The reason we didnt do more wasnt because we didnt want to invest. There was a willingness to do more.
It was a complicated matter and time for us. Theres no point in bringing in players just for the sake of bringing them in.
We dont sit every month when the bank statement comes in and say how good are we, weve got X in the bank?
Were a football club. The purpose of having the money in the bank is to reinvest it back into the club and well do that for the right players.
Were not the only club. It happens at most clubs where there are circumstances and times when you dont get what you want.
At the end of the day, John McGinn decided to go to Aston Villa rather than Celtic. That was his career choice.
What we wont do is get dragged into responding to media or social media speculation or giving a blow by blow account of whats happened.
“Im satisfied that we did all we could in order to bring John McGinn to Celtic. But he made a career decision to join Aston Villa.
“Just as Odsonne Edouard made a career decision to join Celtic rather than the other clubs who were after him. It happens.
He does an outstanding job so why would we not support Brendan Rodgers? Of course we will. Thats our job going forward – to do all we can in the transfer market and developing our own players to make sure Celtic is as good a team as it possibly can be.
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