Hibernian manager Jack Ross is desperate to see an end to the “unhealthy” situation that has resulted in away supporters being locked out of matches by both Rangers and Celtic this season.
The Easter Road club are the latest to be impacted by the Glasgow clubs’ stance as they prepare to head to Ibrox for this Sunday’s blockbuster top-of-the-table showdown without the backing of any of their own fans.
SPFL rules state all clubs must make “a reasonable number” of seats available for visiting supporters, but when Covid-19 restrictions were put in place, the league stated this may be reduced to zero.
The implementation of socially-distanced coronavirus “red zones” for players and staff in the main stand of all stadiums has meant season-ticket holders who would ordinarily sit in these areas have had to be accommodated elsewhere in the stadium.
Rangers and Celtic – who have the largest number of season-ticket holders in the country – have been moving any supporters to the area of their ground usually housing away fans, meaning no tickets have been made available to visiting clubs this term.
The ongoing situation has caused consternation among other clubs and their supporters, and Ross believes a satisfactory resolution needs to be found quickly before damage is done to Scottish football as a spectacle.
He said: “There’s always justifiable reasons behind all decision making.
“But in terms of the spirit of the competition and what this country is built on in terms of fanbases and visiting supports, I don’t think (the situation) is healthy for the game.
“The geography of this country means we traditionally have big away supports in comparison to some other countries and that – although not unique – gives our fixtures special appeal.
“The sooner we get back to that all across the league, the better.
“I think we would all acknowledge that visiting supporters bring something to matches regardless of whether it’s a big away support or a small away support.
“You’ve seen in the games at Easter Road recently that the St Mirren supporters and the St Johnstone supporters have added to the game. Away supporters add to the atmosphere and the intensity of the fixture so it’s a miss to Scottish football as a whole.
“Undoubtedly we prefer it when we have our supporters with us. We can’t do anything about that but hopefully it’s something as a league we address soon because I think it’s unhealthy for the league in general.”
Pressure is growing on clubs from their own supporters to respond in a tit-for-tat manner by withdrawing the away allocation for Rangers and Celtic supporters.
Ross hopes the situation does not get to that stage, and added: “You make your own decisions as a club. If you’re comfortable with what you’ve decided I don’t think it matters what other clubs do.
“If you decide away supporters are best to be in your stadium, I think you should stick by that, irrespective of what another club does. That’s only my personal opinion. I don’t know what the club’s stance would be on that.”
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