Safety fears over ticketless Rangers fans travelling to Sheffield

Sheffield Wednesday take on Rangers in a friendly in 2013
Sheffield Wednesday take on Rangers in a friendly in 2013
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Thousands of Rangers fans could be heading to Sheffield this weekend without tickets, it has been claimed, prompting safety fears.

The Glasgow side are due to play Sheffield Wednesday in a friendly match at Hillsborough on Sunday.

Rangers FC said the club was initially allocated 4,000 tickets for away fans but that was later upped to 7,000, all of which have been sold.

However, Rangers fans say many supporters groups booked buses before the allocation was announced, on the assumption the entire 9,255-seat North Stand would be available.

They claim demand is so great that hundreds of fans who had already organised their travel were unable to secure tickets.

On a Rangers forum, one fan said he expected 10,000 away fans to make the journey, adding: "Everyone I know is going, ticket or no ticket. Probably more with no ticket to be honest."

Another supporter said more than 2,000 fans had been unable to get tickets having already booked to travel.

"I strongly believe this will sadly create yet another Hillsborough flash point caused by South Yorkshire Police (SYP) as thousands of us plan to travel ticketless," he said.

"This will force Rangers fans to either buy tickets for the home end or roam the streets of Sheffield most likely highly intoxicated having travelled from all over the UK to attend."

A representative from Sheffield & Districts Loyal Rangers Supporters Club claimed the group had been advised the entire North Stand would be available for away fans and it applied for 70 tickets but had only received around 45.

He said SYP 'aren't doing themselves any favours' by restricting tickets for away fans but there was a good rapport between the two sets of fans and he did not expect any trouble.

An SYP spokeswoman said it had jointly set the ticket allocation with Sheffield Wednesday 'primarily to ensure the safety of those in attendance on the day'.

She added that police, both clubs and partner agencies had been sharing information and there was no indication of any concerns but contingency plans were in place should trouble arise.

A Rangers FC spokeswoman said the decision over ticket allocation rested with SYP and Sheffield Wednesday.

Tickets for home fans will remain on sale until Friday at 5pm.

Sheffield Wednesday's website states that visiting fans will not be permitted to enter home sections of the ground, and warns that Owls fans attempting to buy tickets for away supporters in home stands will face 'appropriate sanctions'.

A spokesman for Sheffield Wednesday urged fans only to travel if they have tickets for the game.

He said it was the first time the club had given up the North Stand to visiting fans in recent history.

"We expect a healthy following from Rangers and a friendly atmosphere for a friendly match," he added.