Dundee United wary of war with Rangers as Sky set to televise cup tie

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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DUNDEE United face a quandary over ticket prices for February’s William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round clash with Rangers, who have instructed their supporters to boycott the fixture – which was yesterday snapped up by Sky Sports as a live fixture.

• Rangers face an away trip to Dundee United in Scottish Cup

• United fans issue statement registering their ‘disappointment’

• Call for SFA to rethink equal split of gate money

United are in consultation with the Scottish Football Association and have declined to “enter into a war of words with Rangers or to dignify their position by responding in kind” after the Glasgow club announced they will not accept their ticket allocation for Tannadice.

Rangers’ position has prompted United to request that they retain all revenue from the match and that the usual equal split of gate money not apply.

Rangers supporters will be able to watch the fixture – the first away match to Clydesdale Bank Premier League opposition since the club was relaunched as a new company and denied entry to the SPL – on TV after the SFA announced that Sky Sports will screen the 2 February fixture. Whether Rangers gain any revenue from the fixture

remains to be determined.

The SFA board meet today, with the issue up for discussion, but cup competition rules are in place and only an amendment could prevent Rangers from benefiting financially from the match. Under “alterations and additions to rules”, rule 47 (a) states: “The board shall have the power to temporarily suspend, amend or add to these rules as circumstances may dictate from time to time, as it deems appropriate in its reasonable discretion, to facilitate the smooth running of the competition, or in order to ensure that the Scottish FA is capable of meeting the commitments put upon it under the terms of its television and sponsorship contracts”.

These amendments may only be made at the SFA annual general meeting, though, and the 2012 AGM was held in June, when Rangers’ situation was the main subject for discussion.

Following Monday’s draw, Rangers supporters’ groups immediately called for a stay-away protest. Some Rangers fans believe United chairman Stephen Thompson was influential in their having to restart in the Third Division. Thompson also refused to refund Rangers fans when a match at Tannadice between the two clubs in 2009 was abandoned at half-time due to adverse weather conditions. A legal challenge to this move was later rejected by Dundee Sheriff court.

Rangers chief executive Charles Green announced the ticket allocation would not be accepted and the United board, led by Thompson, met yesterday to discuss the Scottish Cup clash. A statement from United read: “It is with huge disappointment that we read both the content and tone of the statement from Rangers, stating that they will not be taking any tickets for our Scottish Cup tie in February and urging their supporters not to attend.

“We have noted their decision not to take any tickets for this cup tie and will now act accordingly in arranging the match. The statement from Rangers makes it clear that their fans should not attend. We have therefore raised a number of related matters with the Scottish FA.”

United fans responded with disappointment, while also calling for SFA action. A lengthy joint statement from ArabTrust and The Federation of Dundee United Supporters Clubs read: “It’s sad that some parties choose to refer to past alleged indiscretions against their club as an

excuse to not attend the match. We believe that the stance taken by Rangers brings them into disrepute in respect of the Scottish Cup.”