Former Scottish Football Association chief Gordon Smith has claimd Rangers could refuse to play matches at Rugby Park in reponse to Kilmarnock’s decision to cut the Gers’ ticket allocation.
Ibrox bosses are understood to be unhappy with Killie’s decision to reduce the number of briefs for visiting fans for the final league game of the 2018/19 campaign.
Celtic and Rangers are usually given both the Chadwick and Moffat Stands when they travel to Ayrshire, but Rugby Park chiefs have decided to give Rangers just 4,000 tickets for their upcoming trip - half the usual amount - with away fans being housed only in the Chadwick Stand.
A spokesperson for Rangers said of the reduction in tickets: “We are disappointed with the decision, which will force us to consider carefully what allocation we will seek for future matches at Rugby Park.”
But Smith - who played for both Killie and Rangers during the Seventies before returning to Ibrox as director of football under Craig Whyte - reckons the Gers could take drastic action in response to Kilmarnock’s decision.
Speaking on PLZ Soccer last night, he said: “I think [Kilmarnock] want to have a celebration, because they think can qualify for Europe.
“They want this match to be remembered by Kilmarnock fans and they want to bring more of them in. I can understand to a degree why they’d do it but I can understand Rangers being annoyed.”
Smith, who headed up the Scottish FA between June 2007 and April 2010, suggested that Rangers could take the hump over the U-turn by Killie.
He added: “What [Rangers are] saying is, ‘We sell all these tickets for you twice a season and you get big crowds, we bring in a fair bit of money for you and now all of a sudden you’re halving your allocation so we’ll maybe see if we’ll take any future places at the stand’.
“Rangers might even say, ‘We won’t come and play at Rugby Park anymore’. That would be a big loss financially for Kilmarnock, and [Rangers] would be paying them back for what they’re doing to them for that match.”
Kilmarnock are planning post-match celebrations to mark the club’s 150th anniversary, while major shareholder Billy Bowie is keen for as many Killie fans as possible to show their appreciation to “one of the most memorable Kilmarnock teams in recent memory”.
He said in a statement: “Kilmarnock FC is a family club and we want to make sure Rugby Park is an enjoyable and safe environment for people to enjoy watching football.
“As promised, we have worked with and listened to feedback from our leading supporters’ groups in a real effort to encourage and inspire the next generation of Killie fans.
“After the game we’re encouraging all Killie fans to stay in the stadium and watch one of the most memorable Killie teams in recent memory complete their traditional lap of honour complete with a few words from our manager Steve Clarke.”