Celtic sent letters out to their season ticket holders today, reminding them that they are not permitted to give their tickets to other people. This story is all over the news and appears to be causing a minor melt-down on social media. I am not sure what people are tripping out over.
This is not a new change.
This has been in the terms and conditions for years and I would predict that it’ll be enforced as rigorously as it currently is; i.e. not at all.
It seems very easy to me for a handful people and a handful of hacks to set alarms off in people’s heads.
Quite why they allow themselves to be spooked like this, and so easily turned against their club, I do not know. The letter itself makes it clear that the club is simply enforced SPFL fiat … what it doesn’t make clear is the reason why they are.
I’m going to tell you what I believe is going on here.
Celtic is being pressured to do this by the SPFL because the SPFL is, itself, under pressure.
The people applying that pressure are the Scottish Government. James Kelly’s private member bill abolishing the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act is due to be debated soon and when it is that bill will be repealed and binned. Ever since it became clear that this was going to happen – when the SNP realised that no majority meant no way to stop it – they’ve been looking for a new law to pass to replace it, perhaps an even more draconian one.
What they have in mind is a version of Strict Liability.
Not a single club is in favour of that. The SFA itself is wholly opposed to it. But if the Scottish Government has the votes – it may and it may not, that remains to be seen – this will become law. And that means government poking its nose into football and forcing our game to change its own rules.
Strict Liability has been put before the clubs umpteen times.
The clubs have voted against it time and time and time again. The majority do not support it and none – I repeat that quite deliberately – none are in favour of government interference which enforces it over the heads of the football clubs and the football authorities themselves.
This will probably put the SFA on collision course with FIFA. That is something they want to avoid, and so they and the SPFL have been scrambling to find ways of assuaging Scottish Government concerns about the way fans behave.
And this is one of the bones they are throwing them; they are telling the Scottish Government that there are means other than the passage of a law. They are reminding them that most clubs have season ticket holder databases and that they can, therefore, pinpoint the exact supporter who sits in a specified seat. That should allow the police to successfully prosecute anyone who breaks existing laws. Existing laws. There’s no need for a new one.
I can’t think of another reason why clubs would be getting told to send these letters out.
There’s nothing on the horizon which could be pushing this issue except for the coming changes to the law. The SPFL and SFA are terrified of a confrontation with the government and are basically flapping and trying to appease them wherever they can.
Let me repeat; every club which sells season tickets already has this in the terms and conditions.
If you buy a concert ticket this is in the terms and conditions.
I bought a ticket online for the Bayern game in Munich when this clause is in the Bayern terms and conditions. To get into the ground I handed a guy a paper print out which clearly indicated that I’d bought the damned thing online.
These rules are not enforced anywhere … they will not be enforced here.
So, give Celtic a break on this one.
When the letter itself is saying the SPFL is making them send it why the Hell is the club itself getting blamed?