When the two Glasgow clubs published their initial prices for the Europa League campaign tickets over the weekend, most Celtic fans thought the price range was alright. It’s the second tier tournament after a honking window; the club at least tried to keep it real.
They knew exactly what they were doing charging £24 quid a ticket.
Sevco fans were not as happy; their tickets are priced in the £35 range. The overall package is in excess of £100. They formalised that today when they posted the price list on their official site. Both club’s fans now have something to compare and contrast.
We are watching the Champions, the double treble winners, a team that has been over the ground before in combining European campaigns with domestic schedules. Our fans are used to buying European tickets in midweek and then going to away games at the weekend; it might not be ideal, but they’ve been doing it a long time.
Our club also knows what it can get away with.
Sevco will get away with this. The ground will be filled for every game. I don’t know that Celtic Park will be. The board took a lot of the air out of our feel-good balloon over the last month. But there’s another reason why those empty seats might be visible; our ground is bigger than their ground, and not by a little but by 10,000 seats.
This is a heavy-duty structural advantage.
It translates into millions of pounds. Price each of those seats modestly, say £400 for a season ticket. That is £4 million that we have access to that their club does not. That is not a small difference in financing; it would buy a pretty decent footballer every year. They have always struggled with that.
When King took over their club he made something clear to their supporters; they may have forgotten it but he sure as Hell hasn’t; he told them straight that eventually, if they wanted to keep signing players, indeed if they wanted to survive at all, that they would have to outspend us as a support.
I have demonstrated time and again that we have always given more to our club than they have to theirs, and I expect we’ll continue to, but King has never been particularly bothered by facts. Nor is he bothered about pressing them to test the issue.
That has started to sink in over there as some of them quail at the prospect of having to fork out this kind of cash on top of their season tickets, which have been rising in price as they have swum up through the leagues. They are now amongst the most squeezed in Europe, and this is not unusual over there.
The loyalty (gullibility to the rest of us) is notorious; remember when Murray introduced the debenture scheme? How the press loved that one, and how the fools queued up to get involved and hand over their hard earned cash.
And what happened with that? When Rangers was liquidated those debentures were cancelled; did Sevco use the “same club” argument then and make sure those punters got what they paid for? Did it Hell. No, they whipped those seats out from under those guys and added them to the creditors list; the next time someone tries to sell you the Survival Lie ask them if they were a debenture holder and watch the colour drain from their face.
Charging their fans more than we charge ours is a business strategy with a proven track record; some of them see it as proof of being “staunch” (as well as stupid) and being willing to go that extra mile. There will be a lot of it ahead of them; the 10,000 seat advantage we hold isn’t going anywhere.
It’s literally “built in with the bricks.” They lack the funds to bring their ground up to the same level and even if they did, there’s a blueprint sitting at Celtic Park for putting another 20,000 onto our own capacity.
As sad as it for their supporters, and as painful on their wallets, their club has a gap to fill and the only thing that will do the job is money. Where else is it going to come from? Dave King himself? Don’t make me laugh.
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