Celtic Way, the decline of the Mainstream Media and why the Rangers make a good point

The mainstream media appears to have woken up to the threat that the fan media presents to their already faltering business models. You will note that the word ‘Celtic’ was missing from that first sentence and the reason for that is that newspapers like for instance Daily Record and Glasgow Times (formerly Evening Times) are losing market share to fan media across all clubs and are now looking at ways in which they can fightback.

Last week Buckinghamshire based Newsquest Media Group, owners of Herald and the aforementioned Glasgow Times, launched two fan media style sites of their own, the Celtic version is named Celtic Way and the blue version is called The Rangers Review. The first day’s content on Celtic Way was in all fairness very good but for those of us in the fan media providing comprehensive around the clock 365 days of the year coverage, it was always going to be a challenge for this new site to maintain those opening standards.

Copyright: Jeff Holmes

Celtic Way seems to be the result of a cherry picking exercise where they have taken aspects of various prominent fan media sites, with some recruits from the fan media thrown in, with the goal to merge with their own in house journalism resources to create a space within the Celtic online audience for themselves. There’s video content, some fan content but mostly its increasingly looking like much of the content is also available on the Glasgow Times website.

Here’s an example of this. This is the article that is currently showing on Glasgow Times: Ange Postecoglou: Not a doctor, not an accountant. A football manager focused on bringing glory days back to Celtic

And this is the version on Celtic Way…Ange Postecoglou: Not a doctor, not an accountant. A football manager focused on bringing glory days back to Celtic

Both ‘versions’ are written by Graeme McGarry who is a Senior Sports Writer at Newsquest’s Glasgow HQ.

Now there’s nothing wrong with the media company taking their own content and distributing it on various websites that they own or create to increase their audience. Across the city Reach do it all the time with for instance Daily Record and their Glasgow and Edinburgh Live sites.

Celtic players applauding the fans on Tuesday night.Photo: Jeff Holmes

And just like Glasgow Times, where Newsquest fairly recently introduced a Premier Content category where you have to pay to read, they are also trying to get readers of Celtic Way to cough up to read this content. Again nothing wrong with that, it’s a fairly standard business model in digital publishing these days and one that for instance The Athletic and closer to home for Celtic fans, The Cynic already do.

One of the weaknesses in many fan media sites is the overload on advertising that makes the reader experience difficult to say the least. Newsquest have picked up on that too by offering not an ad free service if you pay but instead a lighter hand when it comes to bombarding you with advertising.

Here it’s worth noting that The Celtic Star has employed an ad-lite strategy for the past couple of years and regularly tests our loading times and user experience against all other comparable sites, while maintaining a free to view all content policy.

We have only ever had one email complaining about ads on the site and we never use those screen take-overs which on some sites makes reading the content impossible. The Celtic Star also has a completely separate AMP site which has even few ads and allows us to load super fast via Google searches and that has allowed us to grow our own audience significantly.

Newsquest might have got this one right. Celtic supporters might quite literally buy into Celtic Way and theRangers fans might do likewise on The Rangers Review. Time will tell. Meanwhile The Celtic Star will remain entirely free to read, although we do encourage you to support the site and our writers by buying one of our excellent books over at celticstarbooks.com/shop – the next one is the official biography of Harry Hood by Matt Corr which will be out later in the year.

Meanwhile back to Reach – the publishers of Daily Record – and their response to all this. Their hacks and columnists certainly took great offence to the events at the recent Celtic Fan Media Conference when Ange Postecoglou and Dom McKay spoke to the fan media just after the broadcast media and ahead of the written mainstream media.

Conspiracy theorists closer to home than you’d think reckon that the opening remarks that day were designed to send a few particular messages ahead of the new era at Celtic in various direction and whatever you thought of the delivery, the message was received loud and clear in numerous locations across Scottish football, as perhaps was the plan.

Reach had already tried to move closer to fan media with short lived launch of their Football Scotland website. It rather surprisingly only lasted a few months before it was shelved, some redundancies followed while other writers were simply moved back into the main group of titles that includes Daily Record, Sunday Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, Glasgow Live and Edinburgh Live.

Reach are currently looking at various additions to their stable and are planning to launch an Aberdeen Live website and are going to create a website for ‘Scottish Express’, the Scottish edition of their Daily Express title.

And they are also looking at re-introducing their Football Scotland website and are now recruiting for staff.

“Our Football Scotland website is coming back even bigger and better than before. We’re looking for an editor, a deputy editor and football reporters. Only flair players should apply. Links below,” the Editor In Chief of Reach (Scotland) tweeted yesterday.

The Editor in Chief goes on to post details of the vacancies for Editor, Deputy Editor and Live Sports Writers for Football Scotland.

The sands are clearly shifting in the media in Scotland and the mainstream businesses are responding accordingly. The number of copies they sell has reduced dramatically over the past few decades and it is an ongoing downward pattern that isn’t going to change, as they all know only too well. The demographic of newspaper readers is old and is declining all the time as the years go by and their core audience shrinks. When was the last time you bought a newspaper? How many of you still buy one every day or even on a Sunday?

The Press Gazette is the website to find out how some of the Scottish titles are performing via their ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) reports. Three Scottish newspaper still both to report their monthly circulations, Reach owed Daily Record and Sunday Mail and DC Thomson owned Sunday Post. If you go back to the 1970s and even into the early 1980s these two Sundays were hugely successful each selling around 2m copies per week with the majority of Scottish households having both Sunday Mail and Sunday Post in their houses every sabbath.

And Daily Record was hugely popular on the other six days. I remember being a paper boy in the early 1980s and delivered 84 copies of Daily Record and 4 copies of Daily Express six morning a week. No-one got a copy of the Sun incidentally, it took Maurice Johnston signing for Rangers to give them a decent foothold in the Scottish market almost a decade later.

In May 2021 the three Scottish based titles recorded the following ABC figures according to Press Gazette and the year of year change is noted in percentage terms.

Sunday Mail 83,987 – down 11% year on year

Daily Record 84,700 – down 5% year on year

Sunday Post 64,531 – down 14% year on year

When these newspapers were selling ten times these current numbers their owners would still have noted that they’s already lost more than half their sales.  All three are a shadow of their former selves, in print anyway.

It’s worth having a look at what each of their websites are doing at the moment, and for this we can add in Herald, Glasgow Times and Glasgow Live to the equation.

In June 2021 these websites achieved the following estimated audiences according to industry standard marketing tools we have considered today:

Daily Record -13.9m visits

Scottish Sun – 6.1m visits

Herald Scotland – 4.9m visits

Glasgow Live – 2.8m visits

Glasgow Times – 2.3m visits

Sunday Post – 281k visits

These visits are for an entire month and cover all aspects of their newspaper audiences not just football fans or even just Celtic fans. To get their reach for a Celtic audience then you’d have to dig deep into the analytics to get a clearer understanding of how many Celtic supporters, or indeed fans of theRangers read their websites output on each Glasgow club.

Photo: Jeff Holmes

Which brings us onto another development in this media landscape as it relates to Scottish football that happened over the last few weeks. When theRangers let it be known that they were looking at charging the MSM £25k each for media access there were the usual posts on social media about the latest Ibrox club  being skint, desperate for cash etc – which may or may not be true.

Others (mostly the hacks) talked of this being an infringement on the freedom of the press and if they were entered into such relationships their journalistic integrity would be compromised. This from an industry that printed Rangers FC RIP front covers in June 2012 then went on to sell the continuity myth, most recently via their big 55 lie.

Selling the Continuity Myth did the newspapers mentioned in this article a great deal of damage among football supporters across Scotland who knew that they were being lied to. The cost of this self harm is still being felt by these newspapers today. At the end of this article we will show you how the now Editor of The Celtic Star put down a mark on this ahead of the first ever meeting between Celtic and the club Charles Green founded, using the Sunday Herald newspaper on 25 January 2015.

My own take what theRangers Board were recently proposing was some what different to the views mentioned above.  There’s certainly logic in it and based on the numbers we have outlined above (and the fact that they sold their integrity anyway with the Big Lie) which the Ibrox bosses will be familiar with .


The question that they are really asking is given the changes in the media environment over the past few decades, what benefit do they as a new football club (pretending to be the old one) get for maintaining the status quo with the mainstream media in terms access privileges when what these media organisations brings to the table is tiny in comparison to years gone by?

Football clubs in Scotland and elsewhere worked with the newspapers to enhance supporter interest and maximise the crowd usually paying at the gate at the next game. It was a hand-to-mouth approach from the clubs as they needed the newspapers to achieve their aims of getting supporters through the turnstiles.

Not anymore. Most seats at Celtic Park and Ibrox are sold to season ticket holders and the choices of media options open to the clubs have been considerably enhanced. Looking at Celtic the club has its own in-house media team, which is currently expanding to add coverage of the Celtic B team in the Lowland League and more comprehensive coverage of the Celtic FC Women’s side after such a successful season last year.

Outside media can be divided into three categories.

1. Broadcast Partners such as Sky Sports and Premier Sports, who are paying for their access to televise the games. The fact that the Scottish Premiership’s TV deal is so poor in comparison to other leagues around Europe isn’t directly Celtic’s responsibility.

2. Mainstream Media – Daily Record, The Scottish Sun, Glasgow Times/Herald, BBC Scotland, Radio Clyde etc – they have their ongoing ‘traditional’ access but as theRangers board have noticed, are provided far less in return for the same privileges.

3. Celtic Fan Media – this includes sites like The Celtic Star, Video Celts, Celtic Blog, Celts are Here, 67HailHail – all regular attenders at the fan media conferences – plus a host of podcasts and a couple of You Tube channels including Celtic Fans TV which incidentally has 29k subscribers. If you add the reach of those Celtic fan media news sites together you’d easily get a figure higher than Scottish Sun although still a distance behind Daily Record.

These fan media sites only target Celtic supporters and mostly only write about Celtic, whereas the MSM titles numbers include their audiences for national and local news, politics, celebrity gossip and much more besides sport then sub category football, then another sub category to get to Celtic.

Sky and Premier Sports pay for their broadcast rights and favourable access comes with that. Celtic’s in-house media can cover the clubs affairs as the club sees fit. Celtic Supporters provide the main financial backing for the club via the 60k season tickets, subscriptions to Celtic TV, buying club merchandising and so on, so there is merit in Celtic linking this vital source of revenue with the developing relationship the club has with the Celtic Fan Media.

Put simply the job that the Mainstream Media used to do well and now don’t can now be done via a combination of Celtic in-house media and the Celtic fan media and that’s why they mainstream bosses are desperately trying to get a seat at the fan media table through sites like Celtic Way and no doubt the Celtic reporter on Football Scotland. Maybe theRangers board have a point after all.

Now as promised above, this is worth remembering when media organisations that every day sell you Continuity Myth stray into the Celtic Fan Media…

A STATEMENT FROM CELTIC SUPPORTERS – As appeared in a full-page advertisement in Sunday Herald on 25 January 2015…

Celtic Football Club was founded in 1887 and played their first match against Rangers Swifts on 28th May 1888.

On 1st February 2015 Celtic will meet the club currently playing out of Ibrox – the traditional home of Rangers Football Club – in the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup.

Many Celtic supporters, from all sections of our support, feel it necessary to state our clear position with regard to the current “Rangers” club prior to this match.

Celtic supporters believe there is no track record of matches between Celtic and our semi-final opponents and that the game on 1st February is in fact the first meeting between Celtic and the new Rangers club, which was established in 2012.

The original Rangers Football Club was established in 1872 and was incorporated into a private limited company in 1899 in exactly the same way that Celtic Football Club became the Celtic Football and Athletic Club Ltd two years earlier in 1897.

Upon incorporation into a limited company, the officers of Rangers Football Club signed up to and adopted a set of Memorandum and Articles of Association, which stated clearly that Rangers Football Club and the new limited company had become one single legal entity and were inseparable in law.

For over a century, football authorities in Scotland and Europe accepted that Rangers Football Club and Rangers PLC – as the limited company would eventually become – were one and the same legal person and club. In the past, all Scottish Football authorities accepted and endorsed contracts of employment and other legal documents, which stated that Rangers Football Club and the limited company it had become were one and the same.

In 2012 Rangers Football Club, established in 1872 and subsequently incorporated into a limited company in 1899 was liquidated owing at least £21 Million to the UK tax payer and the club, as defined in the Memorandum and Articles of Rangers PLC and elsewhere, was legally brought an end.

The place in the SPL previously occupied by the liquidated club was taken by Dundee FC as a direct consequence of the space created by the liquidation of Rangers PLC.

As every other club finishing below Rangers (1872) in the league moved up one place to fill the gap caused by the liquidation of Rangers PLC, space became available in the bottom tier of the Scottish Football league for another club to be admitted into the Scottish League Football structure at this lower level.

Administrators Duff and Phelps published a document on 5th April 2012 in which they outlined their intention to sell the assets and business as a going concern should a CVA be achieved. After creditors of Rangers Football Club rejected the proposed CVA two months later, the Rangers administrators merely sold the assets as they were unable to sell the business as a going concern. These assets were sold to a new limited company set up by Charles Green.

All of the clubs in Scottish Football – including Rangers PLC (IA) then voted and as a result, Mr Green’s new company was offered admission into the bottom division of the SFL. This offer was accepted by the new company (Sevco Scotland Ltd), which applied for membership of the Scottish Football Association, which had vested in Rangers PLC for many years.

Prior to the grant of this application for transfer, The SFA quite separately granted a unique conditional membership of the SFA to Charles Green’s New Rangers Club whilst maintaining the existing SFA membership vested in Rangers PLC. Without conditional SFA membership the new Rangers Club could not have competed in the Ramsdens Cup tie against Brechin City on 29th July 2012. As at that date, both the old and new clubs were members of the SFA at one and the same time.

The application for transfer of the SFA membership held by the old club was subsequently granted, and the new club became a full member of the SFA replacing the old club.

That is the position that all of the other clubs in Scottish Football agreed to and accepted. There was no demotion of Rangers 1872 as that club had ceased to function and could no longer exist in any legal, commercial or sporting sense. The old Rangers ceased to be and Charles Green’s “new Rangers” started again at the bottom of the Scottish league system – without either the debt or titles and trophies won on the field of play by the former club.

The application to transfer the SFA membership vested in Rangers (1872) to The Rangers (2012) was approved solely at the discretion of the SFA and represents a specific membership being transferred from one entity to another and from one member to another.

Further, when Rangers 2012 became a member of the Scottish Football League, the original Rangers club were still members of the Scottish Premier League which again clearly points to two separate clubs being in existence.

To recap: following upon the grant of conditional membership of the SFA, Mr Green’s club made separate application for a transfer of the full SFA membership held by the old club and at no time did Rangers 1872 and Rangers 2012 exist with one uninterrupted full membership of the SFA as the new club had quite separately been granted its own distinguished, individual and separate membership.

Rangers 2012 were subsequently treated as a new club, participated in the early rounds of the Scottish Cup and were not eligible to play in UEFA competition due to not having been members of the SFA for the mandatory 3 year qualifying period all in terms of Article 12 of the UEFA rules.

As Celtic supporters, we regrettably recognise that our club had an association with Rangers (1872) through the collective descriptive term, The Old Firm. We believe this term is now redundant following the liquidation of Rangers (1872).

On 1st February (2015) Celtic supporters will support our team in the semi-final against a new club, which came into being in 2012. This will be the first ever meeting between the two clubs and the purpose of this statement is to place our position on record so that Celtic supporters can enjoy the occasion for what it is and without playing any part in what we see as the Rangers “club continuation” fiction.

* This advertisement was placed by and paid for by Celtic supporters using crowd funding.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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