Rangers 'bemused and frustrated' as fans banned from Lyon game in French government U-turn

Rangers have turned to European football governing body UEFA after being told fans will not be admitted to Thursday's Europa League group-stage curtain call against Lyon after all.

Jerome Boateng of Lyon vies with Ryan Kent of Rangers during the first meeting of the sides in September. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Jerome Boateng of Lyon vies with Ryan Kent of Rangers during the first meeting of the sides in September. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The dramatic U-turn by the French interior minister goes against information agreed last week, permitting 2200 followers of the Scottish champions entry to the final game in the group stages, and has left fans high and dry.

Authorities in France dragged their heels over the policing arrangements for the fixture, with a large event already planned for the city, in addition to the match.

But after agreeing supporters could be accommodated – if covid travel rules were followed – the plug has now been pulled, leaving Rangers to ask booked-up fans not to travel just 72 hours ahead of the kick-off.

A club statement criticised the timing and read: “We regret to inform our travelling support that, within the last hour, we have been notified by the French Minister of the Interior, that away fans including corporate guests will not be admitted on Thursday night to the Groupama Stadium.

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“We understand that there is a ‘festival of light’ planned in the city which will test policing resource and city infrastructure. As you are aware, we previously underlined to our support that the local authorities in France were being intransigent and initially unwilling to engage.

“However, only late last week they agreed that we could have 2200 supporters admitted. The decision to reverse this is bemusing, and extremely frustrating, given the short notice. It beggars belief that three days after that decision was taken and three days before the match is due to be played, it is our supporters who are now going to be left out of pocket by this decision by the French interior minister.

“We empathise with the feeling of supporters, who have made travel plans months in advance. We were allocated tickets several weeks ago, which adds further confusion to the most recent decision to not admit our fans.

“Rest assured, we have made representations to UEFA, OL and the French authorities. However, regrettably, this situation is now outwith our control.

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“Nevertheless, we are duty bound to ask all supporters including corporate guests not to travel to France.

“We appreciate the frustration, and will work to ensure a refund for tickets is processed forthwith.”

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