Empty Seats, Wasted Opportunity – Innovative Thinking from Hibernian, Worthy of Celtic Consideration

We’ve all had that conversation around the breakfast table on a weekend morning – what will we do with the kids today?

Even on the coldest and wettest of days kids need to be occupied. You can wrap them and yourselves up and brave he elements for a few hours but you need to get out there occupy them, keep them stimulated. And ideally you want to do something as a family. So, for the whole experience to see everyone get the benefit it is preferable if the chosen location or activity is something that can hold the interest of everyone involved, young and old(er).

Celtic FC Women v Glasgow City, 12/09/2021.Empty seats, wasted opportunity. Photo Colin Poultney PSI

That’s why football should be a winner. Not only is something the whole family can enjoy, it also thrown in a nice breakup of the working and school week with the odd midweek fixture thrown into the mix. Perfect!

And that is exactly why Hibernian Women’s initiative of giving away free tickets for their Wednesday’s Derby with Hearts is a touch of marketing genius from the club Celtic FC Women will entertain at Penny Cars Stadium Airdrie this lunchtime.

Some of the comments: “Looks like all the tickets are gone. When’s the next one?”…”Looks like all the tickets are gone. When’s the next one?”..Any returns ?”…as Hibs prove that there is a market for watching women’s football in Scotland.

For a sport just beginning its professional journey attracting and then retaining ‘customers’ is always going to be key, and with an incredible 6000 tickets sold you can bet a good few families will find the conversation of what to do today becoming slightly less problematic as kids who experienced Wednesday’s game telling Mum and Dad ‘we want to go to the football.’ And with a safe family atmosphere to boot you can be sure Mum and Dad will be just as receptive as the kids.

There is a lot of competition out there when it comes to attracting families to sport. Scottish Rugby has had similar initiatives and Glasgow Rocks Basketball team are standouts in not only pricing their sport competitively but also making the whole experience a day out, with added activities to attract families to make a day or evening of the event – Never underestimate the power of a face painter or a chance to do a bit of coaching with a professional athlete to hook the kids in. Indeed, my lad still wants to be a fireman two years after one took the time to show him around the station and set off the siren. Hooked there and then.

And this is what Hibs fantastic initiative is all about, hooking kids into the world of women’s football have them return to watch Hibs regularly and of course encourage a few into starting the sport for themselves. Will a future player or two for Hibs start their journey to professional football on Wednesday night? There’s a good chance of just that.

And this is something Celtic could follow and frankly could have done first.. Our Editor has been to watch Celtic on several occasions now and has raved about the atmosphere generated at these games with only two or three hundred spectators, even to the point a group of Chinese supporters at the recent Glasgow City were being taught the words to some of the Celtic songbook along the way. Listen to the noise when Celtic attack and the roof coming off when Celtic score against Glasgow City…

That is something Celtic could tap into. Games against Glasgow City or of course the Glasgow Derby would be ideal for a similar initiative. Never mind the Penny Cars stadium, if Hibs can get 6000 fans via free tickets, then with a fanbase the size of ours how many would make their way to Celtic Park for a game like that? And if we work on adding to the whole experience how many would come back?

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time in our history Celtic took the lead from Hibs now, would it? And much like the men’s side all those years ago Celtic went from strength to strength. With the Women’s game very much in its professional infancy there is an example being set again by Hibs that Celtic would do well to follow. It will also make those weekend family conversations around the breakfast table far less argumentative. What’s not to like about that? And the club could even call it ‘Added Value’ or is that something they think we’ve forgotten about?

The Penny Cars Stadium, as you can hear from yourself watching the video above, is atmospheric to say the least and Celtic could follow the Hibs lead and do something similar to sell-out the ground over at Airdrie. Or they could open the bottom tiers of Celtic Park and get even more supporters into the games. Surely it is worth thinking about?

Remember winning the SWPL gives the club a much easier route into the big bucks on offer for reaching the last 16 of the Champions League, as Glasgow City and theRangers know well – and don’t write Hibs off either as they have their own ambitions. Should be a decent match this lunchtime, if you’re not going it’ live on the BBC iPlayer.

Niall J

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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

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