Some years ago in an interview with Henrik Larsson about the unique nature of the derby games he had been involved in for various clubs – Feyenoord v Ajax, Celtic v Rangers, Barcelona v Real Madrid and Manchester United v Manchester City – the Swede picked out the Glasgow derby as head and shoulders above all else that he had played in.
The reason? When Celtic went to Ibrox or Rangers to Celtic Park, the visiting fans had a significant say in the pantomime which followed.
Larsson pointed out that ‘El Clasico’ had a different beat and intensity to it since the culture was so different in Spain to Glasgow and supporters rarely travel to support their team.
“At Celtic Park or Ibrox the atmosphere was created by two opposing sets of fans,” said the Swede. “So for me, the Celtic v Rangers game is the biggest of them all.
“It is phenomenal. What they have in common is that they both carry a meaning outside of football but for me I always had to keep my focus only on the sporting side of things.”
Last week’s news that there will no away fans in either ground at the remaining two cinch Premiership games of the season does a disservice to the fixture and dilutes its appeal on a global stage.
The horse looks to have firmly bolted now but the decision is another act of self-sabotage in the Scottish game.