IT was thoroughly depressing to hear Ben Kensell, the Hibernian chief executive, admit this week that the Easter Road club are seriously considering cutting ticket allocations for Celtic and Rangers fans due to their concerns over crowd disorder.

The atmosphere at the 20,000 capacity Leith ground when the Parkhead and Ibrox clubs play there is always, due in no small part to the South Stand being given over entirely to the visitors’ supporters, electric.

Reducing the number of Bhoys or Bears who are allowed through the turnstiles at the Leith ground in future, then, will have a hugely detrimental impact on both the intensity and spectacle of their encounters.

But who could really blame Hibs – who will, Kensell stressed, speak to Celtic and Rangers as well as Police Scotland before doing anything – if they do decide to take such a drastic step?

READ MOREReduced policing blamed for rising crowd unrest in Scottish football

Both of their cinch Premiership fixtures against the Glasgow clubs this season have been marred by coordinated pyrotechnic displays in the away end – and a travelling supporter’s hair was set on fire by a flare in their encounter with the Scottish champions last month.

Should they just continue to blithely throw open their gates to everyone and anyone, carry on as if nothing has happened, cross their fingers and toes and hope there are no more similar incidents or injuries going forward?

The Herald: Is there a chance the stadium safety certificate which they need to stage games could be taken away from them by their local council if they do nothing?

The ticketing of big matches in Scotland has very much been weaponised in recent years. Rangers deciding to slash the number of briefs which Celtic fans receive when they travel across the River Clyde to Govan by over 6,000 to around 800 back in 2018 started it. Their city rivals followed suit and a six year stand-off over the issue has ensued.

But this is entirely different. Celtic and Rangers fans can have no complaints if they are only given access to a small section of Hibs’ ground going forward. All actions, as the old saying goes, have consequences. This will be a punishment, and a deserved one at that, for their illegal behaviour and dangerous misconduct. 

Until a solution can be found for the pyro problem – and we are still waiting with bated breath to hear what coordinated action plan will be rolled out as a result of the talks which representatives of the SFA, SPFL, Scottish government, Football Safety Officers Association Scotland and Police Scotland held at Hampden way back in November  – then clubs are quite entitled to do as they see fit.

“It is our prerogative in the SPFL to reduce allocations if we wish,” said Kensell, when he talked to the media on Wednesday afternoon. “Up until this point we haven’t. But it is our prerogative to do that if we want to.

“We will discuss it with the clubs in question. We as clubs should discuss it before taking it to league level. We as a collective group need to understand how we eradicate this (pyrotechnics) from our game. It should be about what happens on the pitch.”

READ MOREGreen Brigade claims of 'police brutality' after fan arrest dismissed

It was ironic that, just hours after Kensell spoke, a number of Hibs fans at Tynecastle bombarded Hearts striker Lawrence Shankland with missiles, including a bottle opener with a blade at one end, during a powderkeg Edinburgh derby.

Could they be denied the chance to fill out the Roseburn Stand at the next Salt ‘n’ Sauce showdown in Gorgie? It is unlikely given how prevalent the practice is at grounds around the country. Hearts fans were also guilty of throwing objects at Hibs players in midweek. Still, those who pelted the Scotland striker in midweek would only have themselves to blame if such a sanction was meted out.

The Herald: The ultra element of most clubs complain about the heavy-handed treatment they are subjected to at matches and persistently claim they are criminalised.

The Green Brigade unfurled a banner bemoaning “police brutality” during their 7-1 thumping of Dundee on Wednesday night. That was a response to the arrest of one young fan before their meeting with Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday.

A video showing the supporter being pinned to the ground by four police officers was posted on X (formerly Twitter) along with an allegation of “dangerous police practices”. Was the individual in question merrily minding his own business when he was set upon for no reason by the boys in blue? It is hard to believe it was completely unprovoked.

There were, just as there had been on the last occasion the Glasgow club travelled to South Lanarkshire in September, complaints about fans without valid tickets attempting to gain entry to the ground and “adversely affecting” those who did. 

The overwhelming majority of fans go to games home and away and cheer on their team without any issues arising. Anyone who behaves will be treated respectfully, anyone who doesn’t has to accept whatever disciplinary action follows. It is just a shame their stupidity is spoiling things for those who simply want to watch the football.  

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