FURIOUS Kilmarnock fans have rounded on their club after Rugby Park chief Michael Johnston slashed ticket prices for Celtic fans ahead of the Scottish Premiership meeting between the two sides.
Kilmarnock, who are in debt to the tune of £9 million, have seen attendances dwindle in recent months with some fans refusing to go as long as Johnston is in charge of the club.
And Hoops fans who have already coughed up £26 for tickets to the match levelled criticism at the Kilmarnock chairman, threatening to stay away from Rugby Park when they next visit in March, and vowing to return their tickets if they don’t get the £6 refund.
Celtic announced yesterday on their official website that Johnston had slashed prices for visiting fans, with Kilmarnock Supporters’ Association chairman Sandy Armour leading the protests.
He said the decision ‘defied belief,’ telling the Daily Record: “The fans are raging. I’ve never known a situation where a chairman has shown so much contempt for his own fans.
“If you’re a Kilmarnock fan swithering about whether to go then why would you when you know the away fans are treated better?”
With the game on television on Saturday lunch time, it is believed that poor ticket sales from the visiting support led to Johnston’s decision to offer reduced price tickets. But Armour said he believed the Rugby Park chairman would lose far more from Kilmarnock fans, saying: “What he doesn’t realise is he’ll get little take-up from the Celtic fans because it’s a live TV game on a Saturday lunchtime so taking a few quid off isn’t going to make the difference between fans going and not going.
“In the long run he’ll lose far more from Kilmarnock fans walking away because of his actions. I think very few people will turn up on Saturday on the day.
“Even some of the season ticket holders say they won’t go on the back of this.”
The fans chief confirmed that there would be a meeting with supporters in the near future, adding: “The message is clear - we need rid of Johnston now.”
And Kilmarnock director Marie Macklin took to Twitter, saying she was ‘speechless’ at Johnston’s decision.
Secretary of the Affiliation of registered Celtic Supporters’ Clubs Ann McElhinney said that 800 tickets had already been sold to Celtic fans at £26 a time, adding: “It’s ridiculous and unfair on the fans who have already bought their tickets.
“Historically, there isn’t a big uptake of tickets for Rugby Park and Killie have just made the situation worse. The next time Celtic are there I’d be surprised if we even half-fill one stand due to this.”
Kilmarnock, who are without a win so far this season, lie 10th in the Scottish Premiership, two points ahead of 11th-placed side St Mirren.