RANGERS announced yesterday that they will, after all, charge season-ticket holders for play-off matches – but have set a cut-price £5 entrance fee across the board.
The Ibrox club claimed last week that it was “fundamentally wrong” to ask season-ticket holders to pay extra for the end-of-season games. But the club changed their stance following a warning from the Scottish Professional Football League board.
SPFL rules state that home clubs must hand over half of their play-off income to the league while rules on charging home and away fans comparable fees mean that season-ticket holders must also pay.
Rangers revealed that they had put tickets for their home quarter-final second-leg clash against Queen of the South up for sale.
A statement said: “The club is pleased to announce that after careful consideration tickets for the above match are priced at £5 across the board.
“Several pricing structures, including allowing season-ticket holders free admission with other fans paying between £5 and £20, were studied but it is believed the most favourable option for the club and its supporters is a flat price of £5.
“This means the club can cover the costs of staging the match – between £70,000 and £80,000 – and at the same time comply with the SPFL rule, which demands a 50 per cent levy from gate receipts after VAT (but not the club’s costs) has been deducted.
“The cost to the club of allowing season-ticket holders free admission would have been substantial after accounting for the levy that would be due to the SPFL.
“Despite media speculation never at any time did Rangers state it would not adhere to SPFL rules and the club believes that setting this flat fee should meet with the approval of all concerned. The £5 ticket price for all will ensure as many supporters as possible can back the team and should we progress to the next stage of the play-offs our pricing policy will not change.”
Rangers had pointed to a “precedent” of Hibernian escaping punishment for letting in season-ticket holders for free for their Easter Road play-off against Hamilton last season.
But SPFL board members argued that the Hibs case was unique as they had sold season tickets before the leagues merged and before the play-offs were introduced.
Speaking at the weekend, SPFL chairman Ralph Topping warned clubs that they must abide by the rules they signed up to.
“Our rule book is not a pick and mix,” Topping said. “Clubs who play in the league have a clear and vital duty to abide by the rules and not to disregard them when it suits.
“The rules on play-off levies and ticket pricing were agreed unanimously by all 42 clubs, including those likely to take part in this year’s Premiership/Championship play-offs, less than two years ago and an attempt to amend them for the benefit of a limited few was overwhelmingly rejected by SPFL clubs at a general meeting just last week. These rules were introduced for the benefit of all 42 clubs, not a select few.
“That’s democracy in action and it is a fundamental principle of the league. Everyone can see the dangers of trying to change rules part-way through the season, leading to accusations of self-interest and opportunism.”
Hibs failed in a bid to cut the play-off levy to 25 per cent last month while Motherwell general manager Alan Burrows said his club had no plans to charge season-ticket holders should they fail to avoid the play-offs.
Queen of the South are charging fans, including season-ticket holders, regular admission fees of £16 for adults for their home leg against Rangers tomorrow.