Yep, it’s that time of year again: no, the calendars aren’t lying, and no the big jolly fat man isn’t looking for you to leave milk and cookies out for him … it’s the final week for season-ticket renewals. For some, it’s the most difficult time of the year, faced with the choice of succumbing to pressure and renewing their book, or sadly being forced to admit that, for them, their time is up. And that may be for a number of valid reasons: poor health, work or family commitments, but this season especially, considering everything that is going on in the world, it is more than likely to be financial constraints.
This fast-approaching season is guaranteed to be a season like no other, with the Bhoys on the charge to ‘Ten-in-a-row’, a record-breaking achievement … with the uncertainty too over when fans will be able to get to the games, and how the games will be shown for those who have bought their season ticket, and what ‘additional value’ the club will offer to fans who have stuck by the club when times were tough, not only for the club but for the individuals. The idea of the Virtual Season Ticket, in principle seems like a good compromise, but for many the idea of this can cause nightmares. Some families will find that having multiple season-tickets within one household can mean that they are paying £70-120 (or maybe more) just to watch a single Celtic game. Then there are the less ‘tech-savvy’ element of the support, those who aren’t as comfortable around computers, laptops and tablets, those who may well need a family member to help them set up the “Passport to Paradise” the club is now advertising. If current guidelines are not reviewed between now and the season starting, it may be impossible for these people to get help, and thus get full value from the season-ticket.
As I write this, a quick check on the Celtic Season Ticket website will show you that there is just short of 10,000 people on the waiting list for season tickets, and, when I went to check, I was given number 9832. That suggests there is close to 10,000 people waiting to snap up a season ticket should the current occupants not renew their ticket, which adds another conundrum for those who are still trying to make up their minds. It has been a relentless push from Celtic this season with radio adverts, emails, letters, ‘pushes’ from players in the press and online, Celtic have done everything apart from turn up at your house with a begging-bowl. The likelihood of all this will be that the season tickets sell out once again, whether with the original holders or from those who have waited their turn on the waiting list, and with many fans turning to credit options perhaps due to ongoing circumstances.
For most, this leaves a sour taste in the mouth and the feeling persists that the club is holding fans to ransom (and withholding information that would help the decision-making process). Supporters who have had their season ticket for twenty years or longer now face the possibility of not being there for what we hope will be a landmark season (and all because of issues outwith their control).Listen to PAUL ELLIOTT with A Celtic State of Mind here:
The output from the club has been minimal; however, Peter Lawwell joined the most recent CSA meeting and to summarise what he said: “There is an intent to give supporters something in return but, with the uncertainty of when we get back into the stadium, it’s impossible to quantify at the moment.”
The renewal process had kicked off before the lockdown; so, they let it proceed. They couldn’t change it as it was what could be offered to the fans. The best way is to do something retrospectively.
Considering that other clubs such as Motherwell have already promised that fans will be refunded for any games which they are unable to attend due to Covid-19, it is slightly concerning that Celtic, who as of January 2020, were on a very healthy financial footing, couldn’t have, by now, had some sort of reward lined up for fans who have renewed their season ticket.
Once again, fans are playing ‘chicken’ with the Celtic board on the renewals process, and Celtic have blinked, not once, not twice but several times already. The board are always the ones holding all the cards, though, because eventually they will get to a stage where they have enough renewals to know that when the tickets go on sale to the waiting list, they will sell out.
This isn’t the start to the potentially memorable season, that fans would have anticipated. However, if any positive can be taken, it’s that Celtic look to be releasing three incredible kits as part of the new Adidas deal starting on July 1st. Hopefully, this feeling of joy can continue through the season … the board will step up to the mark and reward the fans … and come May 2021, we’ll have all long forgotten about this saga and be celebrating our own piece of history!
Colin WattWatch SAUL DAVIES with A Celtic State of Mind here: