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Celtic have expressed their “disappointment” after just under 900 supporters were told that their tickets for tomorrow’s SWPL class at Ibrox would not be honoured.

Rangers have claimed had been driven by a desire to promote a ‘family-friendly’ atmosphere.

It is understood that intelligence suggested Celtic fan groups would be in attendance at the game, however sources have expressed private suspicions that this is a political argument which has spilled from the men’s game into the SWPL.

There has been an impasse between the clubs when it comes to allowing opposing fans into one another’s respective stadia for games, with Celtic knocking back an offer of 750 tickets for the forthcoming derby between the teams in April.

The ongoing stand-off can be traced back to 2018 when Celtic’s away allocation at Ibrox was cut from 8,000 to 800.

This afternoon’s game is the first time that Ibrox has hosted a game between the two women’s teams in the SWPL. It is understood that there is an SWPL board meeting on Tuesday with league bosses seeking a full explanation for the move to lock supporters out at a time when the league has been pushing to sustain a growth in attendance figures and also a time when there is a move to sell the television rights to broadcasters.

In a statement released on Saturday morning ahead of today’s 3.10pm kick-off, Rangers stressed that the move had nothing to do with increased policing costs but rather was in keeping with their desire to promote a cordial atmosphere at the women’s games.

‘Intelligence received by Rangers and Celtic on Thursday suggested groups of ‘risk’ supporters in a significant number had purchased tickets from the Celtic allocation,’ read the statement.

‘Rangers called an urgent operational meeting between both clubs and Police Scotland, with Police Scotland indicating they would need to deploy a sizeable resource at short notice as opposed to it initially being a police-free fixture.

‘Rangers is committed to ensuring there are away supporters at our matches for both our men’s and women’s teams. However, a unique selling point of the women’s game is the unsegregated, family-friendly atmosphere, with many children attending these matches.

‘Taking all of that into account, Rangers’ security team decided it would be unsafe to allow these ‘risk’ supporters into the stadium, and with Celtic unwilling to cancel just their tickets, the decision to cancel all tickets was taken.’

Celtic inevitably expressed their disappointment at the move which came with just under 1000 supports expecting to be in attendance at Ibrox.

‘At a time when so many are working so hard to promote and support the women’s game in Scotland, the decision to deny access to so many fans is hugely disappointing, even more so given that there were a number of options available to the home club to allow our fans to safely attend in a stadium of such capacity and given the expected crowd,’ read their counter statement.

‘Celtic will liaise with the home club regarding refunds for all tickets and will communicate to our supporters who had purchased tickets as soon as possible.’

Jo Potter’s side currently hold a four-point advantage over Celtic as Elena Sadiku’s side look to close the gap to a point with a win.

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