Empty Seats or Bigger Bank Balances? It’s Scottish football so there’s only one winner

CELTIC SLO John Paul Taylor has provided an estimate of the number of tickets Celtic fans get for away matches in the Premiership amid head-scratching among observers who see half, three quarters or sometimes even completely empty stands while travelling Celtic Supporters – and indeed the away support for the Rangers – are restricted in their allocation with ticket supply seldom if ever meeting demand.

Kilmarnock took what looked like a financially crazy decision to reduce the two big Glasgow club’s fans to one stand rather than the two behind each goal at Rugby Park, at the end of Steve Clark’s competent period in charge.

St Johnstone recently went in the other direction and decided to increase the Celtic allocation from two stands to three, in order to bring in much needed additional revenue to the club and in doing so allow manager Tommy Wright the opportunity to recruit in the January transfer window.

Having been lucky enough to get a ticket for the game yesterday, driving up I knew that there would be plenty of empty seats in the three home stands at Pittodrie. And they have in recent times – due to the bad bahaviour of visiting Ibrox fans – actually reduced the capacity of the away support to avoid the seat throwing that occurred when the Rangers were in town.

Aberdeen have put nets over a section in the away end yet could just as easily put these nets on the home section at the other end of the segregation fence to achieve the same end – and they would have benefited from the additional revenue.

Celtic could easily have taken perhaps 3-4k fans to Aberdeen yesterday. It would have looked better on the television and while the bigger travelling support might have given an added advantage to the Champions (the only logical argument) there is a big financial downside.

Aberdeen have ambitions to build a new stadium – surely they should be maximising their revenue potential from Pittodrie in order to help with their wider objective?

“So Aberdeen probably cost themselves £150,000 today, denying Celtic fans the chance to buy tickets and thousands of empty seats. It doesn’t make any sense.” Tony Gordon stated on Twitter.

A Hearts fans made this point, which sort of misses the wider point. It is clearly Aberdeen’s call but there nevertheless is a madness about it given the lack of money floating around the game in Scotland.

St Johnstone took the cash from the three stands jam packed with the travelling Celtic Support and lost the match. Motherwell, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen have also lost at home to Celtic since play resumed after the winter break but unlike the canny Saints, they preferred empty seats to fuller back balances.

The reality is that Celtic have a tremendous record at Pittodrie and the Aberdeen fans probably figured that they’d just watch it on television rather than head in and more than likely suffer another defeat or even other thrashing at the hands of the Hoops. That’s both understandable and predictable.

But when supply outweighs demand the supporter can pick and choose. It used to happen at the old Celtic Park – go look at attendances. Increasing the supply of away tickets could actually increase demand from the home support and a packed Pittodrie would have looked much better on television that it did with so many empty seats.

The Celtic SLO was asked what the allocations were for each away ground for Celtic fans in the Premiership and here’s what he replied:

“I wouldn’t have exacts but these won’t be far off:

The Derby 750
Aberdeen 1600
Motherwell 4300
Livingston 6000
Hibs 3800
Killie 3700
St J 6000
Ross Co 1700
St Mirren 3000
Hamilton 1800
Hearts 3500”

Motherwell have on occasion increased the number of tickets Celtic get. There’s not much more we could get at the two Edinburgh sides – although Hibs tried to half the allocation recently before seeing that as a mistake.  We all know the background story to the Free Broomloan being taken off us – too many Beautiful Sundays (and another one coming soon folks). Hamilton can’t really give us too many more other than a slight increase in their main stand, and the same applies to Ross County and St Mirren.

Kilmarnock could and probably should go back to a two stand policy, Aberdeen could look at increasing the away section – even just by moving these nets to the other side of the fence but we used to occupy that shed behind the goal where Ajer got the winner. That’s easy money for them going down the drain.

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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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