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Boycotts bad news for game

RANGERS fans say they will boycott their William Hill Scottish Cup tie at Dundee United but can you imagine if supporters did this every time two chairmen argued about something?

It would bring turmoil to our game.

You can see Rangers' side of it, of course you can. To be demoted three divisions must have felt like such a harsh punishment. You have to be sympathetic to what the Rangers fans have been through – I would be sympathetic to any fans who had to see their club go through that – but it seems this is just tit-for-tat stuff and it's the last thing the game needs.

I know it is a cup tie and a one-off, but if this carries on it is going to affect other clubs. Too many of them in this country are already on the brink, and boycotting games is only going to make things worse. As much as people seemed to kick Rangers when they were down, their fans need to rise above it all now.

The unusual thing about this boycott is that Charles Green and the directors are unanimous about supporting it but I think Rangers would look better as a club if they didn't hold grudges, even if the bitterness between the clubs goes way back.

I remember United chairman Stephen Thompson doing a radio interview when the news broke that Rangers had gone into administration. He said financial considerations would dictate his response and basically hinted they could be kept in the SPL with penalties. In the end he was swayed by fan power, as Charles Green has been, when you would have hoped both clubs could just draw a line under things.

I was at the abandoned cup match at Tannadice a few years back that led to much of the bickering. The rain started bucketing down and Mike Tumilty had no option but to call the game off at half-time.

But instead of letting the fans who were there in for nothing when the tie was replayed, United charged reduced admission again, saying they were covering their costs for hospitality and policing. Now people are digging up everything that has gone on between the clubs, such as United's unwillingness to sell David Goodwillie to Rangers. My advice would be for both sides to draw a line in the sand over their differences, for the good of the game.

Rangers and their fans may also be shooting themselves in the foot with the boycott. United are probably favourites to win but a huge Rangers support might have helped even things up.

It is a tough draw for Rangers in the situation they are in, and the defeat to Inverness in the Scottish Communities League Cup kind of shows you where they are at the moment. This game is probably one of the times this season when Rangers needed a big support.

It will certainly make for a strange and eerie atmosphere if their fans stick to their guns and don't turn up. Maybe a few will defy the boycott and attend, but it is a shame this is happening when I think it is one of the ties of the round.

I have said all along that I think Rangers have been treated harshly, but there needs to be collective responsibility on behalf of players, clubs and fans to make our game better. If the boycott does go ahead I hope it is a one-off, a chance to make their point, then get back to normality. Otherwise Charles Green will end up bearing grudges against pretty much every team in the league.

IT was different class for Celtic to make it into the Champions League last 16 in midweek. A lot of people seem to fancy Borussia Dortmund in the next round. The tie would have an emotional pull with the Murdo MacLeod and Paul Lambert connection but I saw Dortmund in their games against Manchester City and they were absolutely sensational.

In terms of the best chance of reaching the last eight, I think the ideal draw for Celtic in Nyon a week on Thursday would be Malaga. Not that they aren't a good team, but having played in Spain against Barca, Celtic will know how to go about it.

Malaga looked impressive in the first few games, but didn't look so clever the other night when they drew 2-2 with Anderlecht. All the other teams may have spent more money, but teams underestimate Celtic at Parkhead at their peril. They are not in the last 16 just to make up the numbers.

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