John Collins suggests Rangers and Celtic season ticket bans for supporters caught flouting lockdown at Old Firm game

John Collins says stripping supporters of their season tickets if caught breaching lockdown rules at this weekend’s Old Firm match is the sort of punishment needed to ensure fans don’t congregate at Celtic Park.

The former Scotland international claimed he fears “20,000 Rangers fans” would gather at Parkhead on Sunday without a tangible deterrent, while speaking on BBC Radio Scotland.

High level discussions have been held following the large turn-out of Rangers supporters outside Ibrox and later in George Square celebrating the club’s SPFL Premiership title win last weekend, in spite of nation-wide lockdown restrictions.

Rangers captain James Tavernier and Celtic manager John Kennedy have both urged fans to stay at home in video messages over the weekend while their opposite numbers Steven Gerrard and Scott Brown have also implored fans stay indoors this Sunday.

John Collins suggested stripping season tickets from fans caught flouting the rules (Picture: SNS)

Collins believes the threat of losing a season ticket when fans are allowed back into grounds could be considered.

Speaking on the Sportsound programme he said: “The good news is the title is already done so it’s not a match that’s vitally important with regards to points, although the fixture needs to be completed.

“The First Minister talks a lot of sense – the last thing we want is mass gatherings and potential trouble. We’ve got the European Championships up the road, hopefully, it’s going to come to Glasgow. We can’t afford any trouble outside a football club because it will be flashed all across Europe so it’s a difficult decision for the Scottish Government.

"There’s nothing [the clubs] can do with fans outside the stadium, it’s outwith their control. The only thing they can say if any fan is found or identified outside the stadium when they shouldn’t be there and they're season ticket holders is they will be banned for a season. That threat would stop supporters coming along. There’s got to be some kind of deterrent, if there’s no deterrent there will be 20,000 Rangers fans outside Celtic Park I think.”

Rangers fans gathered outside Ibrox to celebrate title victory. Picture: SNS

In her coronavirus briefing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the clubs’ messaging ahead of the match but said no final decision had been made on Sunday’s game getting the go-ahead after days of talks and meetings between the clubs and authorities.

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COllins fears "20,000 Rangers fans" will turn up at Celtic Park without a deterrent (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)