John Hartson blasts ‘shallow’ Rangers over Celtic fan row as he calls on Stewart Robertson to ‘put it right’

Passionate John Hartson has hit out at “shallow” Rangers for refusing to let Celtic fans back into Ibrox in their thousands.

And he defended his old club Celtic for their role in the ongoing spat – saying the pressure is on Rangers since they “started it”.

In 2018 Rangers decided to cut visiting allocation on derby day by 90 per cent with only a few hundred tickets going on sale to rival supporters.

The Parkhead side then followed suit and it’s led to one of the biggest derbies in world football being played with virtually no away presence in the stands.

Many have called for the Premiership giants to get their heads together and sort it out but Hartson has refused to put any blame on Celtic’s shoulders – insisting the ball is in the Ibrox court if they want to put an end to the situation.


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He said on Go Radio: “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.”

It was then put it to Hartson that had Celtic “held the line” and refused to cut the capacity of Rangers fans at Parkhead, then the Ibrox club would likely have U-turned.

But Hartson still wasn’t having it as he demanded: “Why don’t they do it now then? Why don’t they allow 5,000 fans in next season?

“If they were going to do that they’d have done it by now. 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.

“If they hadn’t have done that they’d have continued with both sets of fans in either ground.”

And Hartson still wasn’t done. After hearing a Celtic fan caller and fellow pundit Stephen Craigan’s views, he turned his attention to Rangers director Stewart Robertson, who said this week that there are no plans in place to allow a substantial number of Celtic fans back into Ibrox.

He added: “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?

“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.

“He didn’t put it right. He only wants 500 or 600 fans back in.

“I think it makes the game a better spectacle when there is away fans there. 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.

“That’s taking my Celtic hat off. I’m just speaking normally and honestly about exactly what happened here.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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