Clubs’ free entry vow gives SPFL play-off dilemma

THE Scottish Professional Football League is expected to update its position on play-off income by the end of the week after Rangers joined Motherwell in revealing plans to let season ticket holders in for free.

Rangers have called proposals to charge fans to attend play-off games as unfair. Picture: John Devlin

Rangers described charging season ticket holders extra for the season finale as “fundamentally wrong” despite the SPFL asking clubs to charge all supporters for the Premiership play-offs in order to increase the money available for central distribution.

Stuart McCall’s team could have three more Ibrox games depending on results on Saturday in the final Championship fixtures, and in the play-offs.

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A spokesman for the SPFL said: “This matter is under active discussion and we expect to arrive at a definitive position in the next few days.”

The issue of play-off funding has been a topic of discussion since October after Hibs clashed with the SPFL over ticket pricing policy last campaign when letting their season book holders in for free against Hamilton.

The issue of play-off income is specifically addressed in rule C26 of the SPFL regulations, which states that a 50 per cent levy of the home club’s gross play-off income should be paid to the league. The requirement to charge season-ticket holders is less clear in the regulations and revolves around general rules regarding charging home and away fans comparable entrance fees.

Hibs did not receive any punishment over their decision to allow season ticket holders entry last season and their compromise deal to reduce the levy to 25 per cent was defeated in a vote by clubs last week.

Motherwell outlined their position earlier this week should they fail to overturn a six-point deficit in their final four Premiership games and Rangers have been clear in their position after informing the SPFL on Tuesday that they would not be charging extra.

A Rangers statement read: “It is fundamentally wrong to ask supporters to pay for season tickets and then, at the end of the campaign, expect them to pay again to watch what will now be the most important matches of that same season.

“The club wishes to express its gratitude to all of those who bought tickets and also point out that a sensible pricing policy for play-off tickets, other than season tickets, will be announced soon so that as many Rangers fans as possible can be at Ibrox to help drive their team towards the Premiership.

“We have gone through the correct channels and it should also be made clear that Rangers will comply fully with Rule C26 and pay a levy of 50 per cent of the other ticket prices. Rangers recognises fully the SPFL’s desire to help their member clubs but as well as having a responsibility to the game in general Rangers has to be mindful of their own fans at all times.

“Even so, it should be noted that Rangers is not the first club to allow season ticket holders into the play-offs free of additional charge. The SPFL board gave Hibernian permission to allow their season ticket holders free entry into their play-off match last season therefore setting a precedent.”

The issue of play-off funding will become more crucial after this season as the Scottish Football Association has underwritten the first two years of parachute payments.

Clubs relegated from the Premiership through the play-offs receive £500,000 and a further £250,000 if they do not go straight back up.

The SPFL received a financial boost from the Premiership play-offs on Tuesday when it announced a new deal with BT Sport to televise all six games. Only the final was shown last season after the TV companies declined to pay extra for the games on top of their initial deal with the league.