FANS of top-flight newcomers Partick Thistle will be forced to move from their usual seats for the visit of SPL champions Celtic, after health and safety chiefs said that Celtic supporters pose a fire risk to Firhill’s main stand.
Partick Thistle chairman David Beattie told the club’s website of his “frustration” and “unhappiness” at forcing the fans to move. Rules on fan segregation, coupled with fears of flares being set off in the wooden Main Stand, have resulted in Thistle being forced to place Celtic fans in the usual North Stand home of Thistle’s support.
Celtic are due to visit the Jags on October 26th.
Partick Thistle’s First Division triumph was helped by their brilliant home record, with the Jags winning 15 of their 18 games at Firhill, losing just once.
Beattie said: “Our main aim this season has been that the North Stand remained for the home support only. This was opposed by the Police, due to the natural segregation offered by the North Stand, however the club have fought hard to ensure that this is the case as much as we possibly can.
“Unfortunately there are times when these decisions are taken out of our hands as the health and safety of supporters within Firhill Stadium takes precedence.
“During meetings around this matter the Police Football Intelligence Unit raised concerns as to the increased use of flares by sections of some away support, citing a number of incidents that have taken place over the last season.“
Firhill hosted the Glasgow Cup Final between the youth teams of Rangers and Celtic, which saw flares and smoke bombs set off by both sets of supporters.
Beattie stated that the club had no choice but to comply with officials on the issue for safety and legal reasons, but added: “Unfortunately the people who pay for this stance are our own fans.
“The renewal of the Safety Certificate meant that a strict segregation policy which banned Celtic supporters from the Main Stand was enforced. In essence this left the Club with a Fait Accompli regards moving our own fans.”
Partick Thistle will open their campaign in the Premier League with a home game against Dundee United. It will be the first time that former manager Jackie McNamara will return to Partick since leaving the club for Tannadice.