St Johnstone’s home support at this weekend’s Scottish Cup clash against Rangers is on track to be the smallest in the Perth club’s modern history.
The club has decided to give Rangers three stands for Saturday’s match at McDiarmid Park, with St Johnstone fans restricted to the Main Stand.
The move has sparked uproar, with fans furious at both the decision to give Rangers a large allocation and ticket prices.
Tickets for the match went on sale a week ago, with priority for season-ticket holders ending on Monday.
The Courier newspaper reported that St Johnstone have sold under 300 tickets so far.
Unless there is a late surge in sales, the club is set to see a meagre home support unprecedented since the club moved to McDiarmid Park in 1989 – excluding under lockdown restrictions.
Protest action has already been evident as members of Fair City Unity, a prominent supporters’ group, did not take their usual seats at McDiarmid Park ahead of Saints’ clash with Dundee United on January 2.
Instead, they unfurled banners over empty seats reading ‘Against modern football’, featuring a symbol indicating their dissatisfaction with increased ticket prices at £30 for adults and £20 for concessions.
The group returned to their traditional area of the ground for the second half of the match.
In a statement, the group said: “As a group, we are disappointed in the £30/£20 ticket pricing structure and direct blame at both St Johnstone Football Club and Rangers Football Club, who had an opportunity to make the match affordable for all fans, particularly due to the current cost-of-living crisis and also to compensate for the unwanted (5.30pm) kick-off time and TV coverage.
“The group will continue to fight for fair and affordable ticket pricing structures at all St Johnstone matches in order to make football affordable for all fans.”
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson has expressed frustration with his club’s decision to hand Rangers three stands.
When asked about the supporter discontent after the Dundee United match, Davidson said: “As a player, I used to love it when you had both stands full of St Johnstone fans.
“I sympathise with supporters. For me, it’s not great in that way. I want the best chance for us to get through in the cup, for me that would be two stands of St Johnstone fans. So yeah, I’m a little bit frustrated.”
When asked whether the silent protest had an impact, he said: “I was more annoyed with my team so I didn’t really notice in the first half.
“We have to work with the supporters. It’s a really hard one. The supporters were there when we needed them last season.”
St Johnstone’s previous lowest attendance at home was at Muirton Park in the 1985-86 season, when just 466 people watched them beat Albion Rovers 1-0.