ALLY McCoist moved to defuse the animosity between Rangers and Dundee United supporters last night and said there was no reason for any safety fears when the clubs meet in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final next month.
Stephen Thompson, the United chairman, has said he will sit among his club's fans, and a supporters' spokesman said some of his members had expressed fears about going to the game at Ibrox. There has been resentment from Rangers fans towards United because of Thompson's involvement in the rejection of their application to join the Scottish Premier League after liquidation in 2012. United, in turn, have been unhappy that the "neutral" venue of the semi-final has not been changed from Ibrox since Rangers reached the last four. United have also been in public dispute with the Scottish Football Association over the size of their ticket allocation for the game on April 12.
But McCoist spoke in conciliatory terms when he was asked about the issues yesterday and the Rangers manager said he saw no reason for the Tayside club to have any safety or security fears. "I would be hopeful that was maybe taken a wee bit out of context," he said of the reservations expressed from the United camp. "I didn't read the quotes so it would be wrong of me to comment on them. But certainly, in this day and age, the one thing you expect is that any travelling supporter of any club going to any game would like to sit down and watch it in comfort and safety. I would hope that is just about guaranteed in all the stadiums in the country and ours is no different.
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"I would hope for an atmosphere that was full-blooded but safe. You want a fantastic atmosphere to create a good tempo and good quality of game. Cup ties do generate a better atmosphere generally and I would hope that would be the case against Dundee United."
The recent animosity with United was of limited significance as far as McCoist was concerned, he said, because he and Rangers had faced - and continued to face - bigger issues. "I don't have any animosity," he said. "It's something that, if it is there, I don't see as being a major problem. I think there would be the same level of interest no matter who we would be playing from the top flight.
"I know there was that issue last year in the cup with travelling fans [Rangers supported a boycott by their fans when they faced United in the cup at Tannadice] but I think we as a club and as a team have got far bigger things to worry about than having a mump and a moan with individual clubs. We have got to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and concentrate our energies on getting back to the top flight and playing semi-finals and finals on a regular basis. Honestly, I'm not bothered. In the grand scheme of things, in the last two years it's been a very, very small issue.
"United would look at it as if they are only fighting their corner, which is fine. But with the greatest of respect, their fight is not against us. The game will be against us but the problem they have is with tickets and the venue and we are not in control of that, so their fight isn't with us."
Scans on David Templeton and Andy Little's injuries were discouraging for Rangers and both could struggle to be back in time for the semi-final or the Ramsdens Cup final against Raith Rovers on April 6.
"It would be great if they are back and fit for it, but it looks at this moment in time it's touch and go."