The reaction to The Bhoys’ ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ banners at recent away games was predictable. It was the only outcome after years of divide and conquer tactics employed by club owners and governing bodies.
We are conditioned to be selfish and default to ‘whitabootery’, while those who make the money and hold power laugh as we blindly wander around in serfdom ensuring they stay rich and powerful.
The Celtic support being told that our stadium is the most expensive in Scotland doesn’t make the message of the banner mute. We know that. If you had a look at the Celtic Ticket Office Twitter feed when the prices were released for European qualifiers this summer you would have seen that most supporters were quite happy to take the club to task over them.
That it’s cheaper to watch Celtic versus Lazio than it is to watch Celtic against Hearts is an indication that the prices to watch domestic fare at Celtic Park are too high. That we ask away fans to pay the highest ticket prices in Scotland (outwith derby games) to sit in the worst part of the stadium also isn’t lost on us.
Scottish football is over-priced. It has an over-reliance on paying customers. That loyal and ageing constant. While we have a high percentage of the population going to watch games we have a low percentage of actual tickets sold against available tickets. We have empty seats everywhere. We are pricing the next generation out of the game as the price jump from heavily discounted child to an adult ticket is massive.
A few seasons back, I was at a meeting when it was suggested that we made some games at Celtic Park a walk-up price of £20. The upper Lisbon Lions stand was covered by what was dubbed the banner of shame and thousands of season ticket holders weren’t turning up.
The idea wasn’t taken forward due to the backlash from season ticket holders who would have paid more to watch that game. My thought was that if you were lucky enough to be able to afford a season ticket to support your team then you wouldn’t bother about those not lucky enough to afford a season ticket paying slightly less than you for certain games.
This is how the modern fan is conditioned – Profit, loss and cost. We only look at ourselves. The fans of other clubs reacted the same way as those season ticket holders. They protected themselves by ignoring the point but pointing out the same issue that was being highlighted. All over Europe fans are getting together to protest against ticket prices, UEFA’s strict liability, overzealous policing and TV’s increasing influence. In Scotland that would never happen as we default to tribalism and mockery. It’s the Scottish way.
The only way there is going to be major change in our game is if it’s forced to change. If the comfy slippers of familiarity are eaten by a big dog. That big dog will be a European league or more European games which lessen the appeal of the domestic game. Currently, we accept the status quo as it’s the only thing we know.
Fans will never force change as long as we are blinded by the colour of the scarves and not realise that our scarves are what unites us.