THE decision by Rangers to reduce the number of tickets that Celtic supporters receive when the Parkhead club play at Ibrox from 7,000 to around 700 back in 2018 has had a devastating and detrimental impact on the world-famous fixture.

Celtic directors immediately responded by doing exactly the same thing as their counterparts - and the matches between the historic city rivals at their stadiums have lacked the same atmosphere and intensity of their previous encounters ever since.

What effect will there being no away fans whatsoever during the final two cinch Premiership matches between the Glasgow giants have? The prospect does not bear thinking about. It is a thoroughly depressing development.

The Old Firm game, or Glasgow derby if you prefer, certainly has its fair share of unwanted baggage. The sectarian songs which are invariably belted out during the course of the 90 minutes do not show Scottish football, or Scotland for that matter, in a particularly good light.

READ MOREOld Firm fan ban as Rangers and Celtic make away support call

Trouble, too, frequently flares in the stands and the streets. Indeed, both Celtic and Rangers have chosen not to accept any briefs for their remaining league games due to “safety and security” concerns. Injuries have been suffered as a result of missiles being thrown in the last couple of campaigns.   

However, it remains a fixture which is renowned across the globe. It generates interest in our game and shows we are not the sporting backwater that so many critical commentators would have you believe.

Yes, the quality of play on show may often leave something to be desired. It is frequently high and commitment and low on silky soccer. Still, it is vastly superior to so many of the bland snorefests which are played out down south and further afield during the course of a season. 

The National:

But the Old Firm game, or Glasgow derby, has been greatly diminished by there only being a small pocket of away fans. Whenever the visitors score a goal now it is greeted by a strange silence, not a cacophony of noise. It is beyond weird. Quite what a neutral onlooker makes of it all is anybody’s guess. 

The Premiership match at Parkhead on Saturday, April 8, will not be the first between Celtic and Rangers to go ahead with only home supporters looking on.

The former Rangers owner Sir David Murray banned Celtic fans from Ibrox at a league match in 1994 due to his unhappiness at the damage they had caused to the stadium on their previous visit. Mercifully, the exercise has not been repeated in the 29 years since. Until now that is.

READ MOREAnge Postecoglou in Celtic response to Greg Taylor Scotland claim

It is to be hoped the current custodians of the first and second-placed sides in the top flight can talk through whatever concerns they may have in the coming weeks and reach some sort of agreeable solution that sees their meetings return to some sort of normality.

Celtic are certainly keen to reopen negotiations about receiving a greater allocation for their fans in future.

Rangers made the decision to slash the number of briefs that Celtic received five years ago due to the huge demand for season tickets. There is no prospect of them reversing that now. It is worth millions of pounds in revenue to them every year and these are challenging times economically.

But could a compromise be the answer?

Ajax, Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven supporters were handed around 2,700 tickets for their Champions League games in Govan earlier this season and they certainly made their presence felt after they had filed through the turnstiles.

The National:

Would Rangers be able to accommodate that many Celtic fans twice a season? It seems an eminently achievable middle ground that would not reduce their incomings greatly. If they were to relax their current stance, then the gesture would surely to be reciprocated across the River Clyde. 

UEFA regulations state that a visiting team is entitled to at least five per cent of the approved capacity. The SPFL rulebook simply states that “a reasonable number” should be let in. A change in the guidelines could help to force the issue. 

When it emerged yesterday that Rangers would not be taking any tickets for their next away match against Celtic - and vice versa - there were a fair few who welcomed the news.

READ MOREMichael Beale addresses Alfredo Morelos Rangers distraction chance

But a great many people, those who recognise their matches are not what they were in years gone by and yearn for a return to way things were before, were desperately disappointed. A return to something like the old status quo, then, would not meet with a huge amount of resistance.

The date of the last Old Firm/Glasgow derby game has still to be decided. It will only be agreed after the top six split next month. Theoretically, though, Celtic, who are currently nine points clear at the top of the table, could clinch the Scottish title at the home of their greatest rivals.

It will make a mockery of the Premiership if there are no fans there to celebrate it.