Rangers have been handed a major Europa League boost after it emerged UEFA are likely to close the Sparta Prague stadium due to racist chanting for the club’s visit to the Czech Republic.
Sparta’s next European game in the Letná Stadium will be against Rangers on 30th September and the Czech outfit are set to be punished for racist chanting in a Champions League qualifier against AS Monaco.
The issue relates to an incidence of racist abuse aimed at Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni during a 2-0 Champions League qualifying defeat to the French club.
Tchouameni opened the scoring in the Czech Republic and was subjected to the abuse before the match was eventually stopped for three minutes.
During this period, the French midfielder ran to the touchline to complain about the abuse to is manager and the match officials.
Reports from supporters contacting the Czech club’s ticket office ahead of the match between Sparta Prague and Rangers have confirmed the game “should” be behind closed doors.
“The UEL game AC Sparta Praha – Rangers FC should be played behind closed doors,” a spokesperson for Sparta told HITC.
“This is restriction unfortunately for both home and visiting fans.
“There is only one exception: local kids no older than 14 years of age could visit the game (only for free). This is the decision of the UEFA.”
Rangers star Glen Kamara was racially abused by Czech defender and Slavia Prague star Ondrej Kudela in a Europa League Last 16 clash last season.
This led to Kudela getting a 10-match ban and missing the European Championships with Kamara also getting a three-match ban for his reaction.
What followed was a disturbing campaign of racist abuse aimed at Rangers’ black players from many Slavia Prague supporters and this has led to fears of similar incidents connected to this match.
However, an empty stadium will not only be a flashback to the Covid-19 lockouts of last season, but it may well remove the possibility of similar incidents inside the stadium this time around.
But what an opportunity Rangers now have to get their Group A campaign off to the best possible start.
Sparta will be Rangers’ second match and already the Gers have been boosted by the news that Scot Gov Covid-19 rules prevent a £46m trio from travelling to Ibrox for the opener.