Unintended Consequences at Blackpool, Celtic fan survey shows a supporter return is safe, viable and necessary

Celtic have today published the results of the club’s extensive survey of its season ticket holders and it provides the most detailed source of information on how supporters would react to a new normal in attending matches safely during this pandemic.

And looking at these results, which you could reasonably expect to be indicative of the opinions of all groups of supporters at the other Scottish Premiership clubs, there seems to be no real reason why the Scottish Government cannot allow the gradual resumption of football supporters to matches.

I heard Nicola Sturgeon today urging ‘Old Firm” (sic) supporters not to travel to Blackpool this weekend to watch the game. Apparently some of the Ibrox fan media had been urging their fans to do just that in some sort of tie-up with a pub down there. But it is the law of unintended consequences that the First Minister has to deal with and this weekend there are going to be numerous incidents reported where the Covid precautions are thrown out the window as supporters gather – not at the game, not even in pubs – to watch the Glasgow Derby.

The blanket ban on allowing fans to return in Scotland serves no purpose whatsoever, other than to presumably stop problems emerging because of irresponsible behaviour from football supporters. But the Government’s own rules are causing a different set of problems all on their own.

Recently UEFA recommended a 30% capacity for Europa League matches and when you consider the results of the Celtic survey – which had 16,980 responses then you have to think that this is sensible, safe, fair and reasonable. And allowing supporters to attend games – so long as the protocols put in place by the club are followed – would not be a cause for concern for the Scottish Government, their health advisors of even Police Scotland.

Celtic fans before the pandemic

And it would ease the ‘unintended consequences’ concerns as well as being good for the well-being and even mental health of so many people who get much of their pleasure in life by supporting their team.

Away fans are understandably a no-go for the foreseeable. Everyone gets that. Likewise supporters buses, the First Minister today talked about the numbers of COVID positive cases in Scotland at the moment from tourists who had recently travelled back from Blackpool. yet she stopped short of cancelling these bus trips, rather just urged this going to wear masks etc.

So it’s still okay for the ‘Grey Brigade’ to travel to Blackpool on a coach but not okay for Celtic Supporters – maybe even the Green Brigade to make the shorter trip to Celtic Park mostly using cars.

Here are the key results of Celtic’s survey…

99.5% of Celtic supporters have expressed their overwhelming readiness to get back to Celtic Park, as soon as we are able to do so.

Celtic asked fans how they felt about potentially returning to Celtic Park to watch matches and to outline their thoughts on the processes and procedures that we may have to implement in order to ensure supporter safety, in line with Government recommendations.

Celtic pointed out that the club has been at the forefront of establishing effective protocols for the safe return of supporters. Celtic understand that any supporter return will be led by Government (Nicola, do the right thing please), the supporter responses and opinions provided by the Celtic season ticket holders will be hugely important in further informing these protocols as Celtic look to work with the relevant authorities to welcome fans safely back to Celtic Park as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for Celtic, on the club’s official website had this to say:

“We would like to sincerely thank our season ticket holders for their fantastic level of engagement in this survey.

“The information will be crucial to us as we look ahead to a safe supporter return to Celtic Park. The survey demonstrates an over-riding willingness of fans to get back to Celtic Park when safe and to adhere to a wide range of safety measures as part of any return.

“Celtic has already worked tirelessly on establishing protocols for the safe return of supporters to Celtic Park. We have submitted detailed proposals to Government in terms of firstly establishing test events and we will continue to work with football’s Joint Response Group and all other relevant authorities as we move forward.

“We fully appreciate a return will be led by wider considerations, however when we are given the green light, then we are ready to go.

“We are grateful for the wonderful support and involvement from our fans. We also understand that many of our fans and indeed all our communities continue to face major challenges against the backdrop of the pandemic – something we do not underestimate.”

 

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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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