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Ex Celtic and Rangers managers Martin O’Neill and Alex McLeish have both insisted that the derby is diluted without fans.

The argument was reignited yesterday afternoon with both clubs releasing statements; Rangers to express their “extreme disappointment” at no fans inside Celtic Park on December 30th and Celtic to say they will “address reasonable allocations.”

There have been no away fans at recent meetings between the sides after an allocation of 700 was refused by Celtic over safety and security concerns at Ibrox earlier this season.

It is Celtic’s turn at the end of this month to host Rangers in the second meeting of the season with both O’Neill and McLeish insisting that enforcement of just one set of fans at the game detracts from the overall atmosphere of the occasion.

O’Neill, who delivered three titles, three Scottish Cups, a League Cup and Celtic’s first introduction to the group stages of the Champions League across his time at the club, said: “There is something lost about the fixture.

“When I went to Ibrox and to know we would have about 5000 or 6000 there, you took some sort of consolation from that – you felt as if you weren’t alone.

“I am sure that Alex felt the same when he stepped out at Celtic Park and saw the fans to his right.

“I feel as if the fixture has lost something.

“In the last season I have had some friends come to the game and say it is a fantastic atmosphere but they have not seen the away fans.

“And I said that they have not seen it at Celtic Park when the Rangers fans are there and vice versa.

“It has lost a bit of something and from a managerial view point, going to Ibrox you felt, honestly, at least you have someone with you there to help you along…even if actually you’re on your own!”

McLeish agreed as he spoke of the silence that engulfed Ibrox back in September when Celtic took first blood when the teams met.

He said: “When Celtic scored it was like we were in a time warp.

“Everything just went really quiet and you’re thinking ‘Is it a goal? Have they given it…?’ Come on, get the fans back.”

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