Call me naïve, but when news broke this week that Celtic and Rangers had finally been drawn back to the negotiating table to thrash out (for that is always what seems to be done at such tables) a compromise on ticketing arrangements for the Old Firm fixture, I thought there had been a rare outbreak of common sense and maturity in a world where there is seldom either.

Could it be that the powerbrokers at both Celtic and Rangers had twigged that the current self-defeating impasse was an affront to their collective dignities, and that their pride was harming what was once one of the world’s great – if not the greatest - derby days?

More likely, the league’s broadcasting partner, Sky Sports, have had a word in the shell-likes of both parties, and explained that the four fixtures a season they are really laying down their dosh for were becoming a little sterile for the tastes of their wider audience.

Whatever the reason though, the development surely had to be welcomed. Having attended both matches between the sides this season where opposition fans were denied access, there can be little argument against the notion that the spectacle was lessened by their absence.

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The question now was just where the common ground may lie, and where that compromise may be reached.

Celtic have already rejected an offer of around 800 tickets for Ibrox this season citing safety concerns, so it would seem unlikely that they would now perform a volte face and surmise that their fans would be fine travelling to Ibrox in such numbers for the next meeting in early April.

Unless, of course, they received significant assurances that extra security would be put in place to guarantee the safety of their supporters, which would come at quite the expense for their hosts.

Rangers, meanwhile, have often claimed their reasoning for reducing the number of away fans at the fixture was in order to allow more of their own supporters into the stadium.

Celtic fans will no doubt be scoffing as we speak and shouting something about Odsonne Edouard, but whatever the motive for starting this ticketing tit-for-tat, the fact remains that in selling briefs for the traditional ‘Celtic’ end to their own fans, a return to the days of 8000-odd visiting supporters taking residence in the Broomloan Road looks nigh on impossible to achieve. In the short term, at least.

The trouble is, Celtic are seemingly of a mind where they either accept the full bhuna, or nothing at all. Which leaves my recently acquired optimism about away fans perhaps returning to the fixture this season rather in tatters.

The only way I can see that happening before the end of the current campaign is if the SPFL step in and demand that their member clubs offer one another a minimum percentage of tickets. If Celtic are forced to offer a few percent of their seats to Rangers, they would then be rather pressganged into accepting the same in return for their own supporters at Ibrox.

But the league’s governing body appear reluctant to intervene, hoping like me – and perhaps just as naively – that the warring factions could sort this all out among themselves.

My understanding though is that Rangers, at least, are indeed willing to wait it out until the follow up SPFL sub-committee meeting in February, with discussions at an impasse.

Having won a favourable judgment at the last sub-committee meeting in December - but alas, no concessions from Celtic as the SPFL deemed there to be too little time ahead of the game at Celtic Park to reach a conclusion on what a ‘reasonable’ number of tickets might be - they are reasonably surmising the SPFL will have now had ample time to make such a judgment.

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In the meantime, though, rather than just wring my hands over the issue, allow me to proffer a possible solution. Beyond this season at any rate.

When Rangers are competing in the Europa League, they offer visiting supporters up to 2,500 tickets, an area that constituted the ‘away’ corner of the ground and a strip of seating adjacent to it in the Broomloan Road.

As anyone who was at their match against Legia Warsaw, for example, witnessed, that number of supporters can make an almighty din inside the stadium. It is inarguable that they added to the spectacle on that occasion. 

Will it be the same as when there were 8000-odd opposition fans at Celtic Park or Ibrox? No. But, as sad is it is to say it, those days are now a thing of the past.

What it would bring back is a little bit of the back-and-forth ferocity to the atmosphere that has been conspicuous by its absence in recent times. There would be some inconvenience and upheaval to supporters who have since been sold tickets in these areas, of course, but not on the scale a return to the good old days would require.

In short, it would just be common sense. Perhaps, next season at least, there will be an outbreak of that most precious Scottish football commodity yet.