HEARTS fans are considering boycotting forthcoming away matches at Celtic and Hibs because of new ticketing measures which will see them pay more than 25 per cent extra to attend the games.
Officials at Celtic Park and Easter Road are opting to sell tickets straight to Hearts supporters and post them out, ensuring revenue goes direct to the home clubs without any involvement from Hearts. However, fans are outraged at the booking and special delivery fees they are being asked to pay to secure their seats.
Hearts staff will not handle their allocation for the SPL encounter at Parkhead on December 10, nor the Edinburgh derby at Easter Road on January 2, 2012. But, inclusive of booking and delivery fees, a single Hearts fan attending the Celtic match must pay £35.70 for an unrestricted view ticket. Hibs are charging individuals marginally less at £34, again inclusive of delivery. The rise in cost is sharp for tickets costing £29 (full view) at Parkhead and £28 at Easter Road. Celtic claim the special delivery service is optional, but Hibs have made it compulsory.
That means Edinburgh-based Hearts supporters cannot collect their tickets in person for the New Year derby and must pay £6 to receive them in the post, although group bookings will not be charged extra. Hearts fans are angered at such a dramatic price increase and are now contemplating staying at home on both occasions.
“This will put a lot of Hearts fans off going to these games,” admitted Steve Kilgour, who is secretary of the Federation of Hearts Supporters.
“Some folk have spoken about asking for a boycott, saying Hibs in particular can go and raffle for the money because we’ll just watch it in the pub.
“I don’t think that’s the way to go but that’s the kind of things people are talking about.
“Once again it’s Scottish football ignoring its paying punters. At a time when they are trying to get people through turnstiles, some clubs are making it harder and harder for fans to go to games.
“This arrangement causes a lot of inconvenience, especially for supporters’ clubs.
“We are used to dealing with Hearts directly and getting our orders in a group booking. There’s no guarantee of that same service from Celtic and Hibs. If this is being done because the other clubs suspect Hearts won’t pay them the ticket money they are due, then that’s just an excuse.
“I think the other clubs want the money straight away, they don’t want to wait because they need cash themselves,” Kilgour went on.
“Some people feel Hearts should do the same to Hibs when the time comes for them to come to Tynecastle next year. But all this is just making it harder for the ordinary paying supporter to get to a game.
“There has been a bit of tit for tat between Hearts and Celtic in the past over tickets. But Celtic go out of their way to make you unwelcome as it is.
“Parkhead is the most inhospitable place in Scotland to go and watch a football match. That goes from the stewarding right to the policing,” Kilgour claimed.
“We’re Hearts supporters, we want to deal with Hearts.
“We don’t want to deal with Hibs and we don’t want to deal with Celtic, or any other club for that matter.”