To the glee of a certain national newspaper, Celtic are getting a bit of a pasting on Twitter tonight over their latest commercial partnership, another bookie, and the launch of a “Celtic Slots” game.
I understand exactly why fans are angry.
It’s as if our club is completely unaware of the mountains of research out there which make it clear that online gambling has caused an epidemic of problems.
Look, I don’t want to get on a downer at the club, and especially not when they are, again, flexing their commercial muscle.
It’s the ability of the business people on our board to go out and find every last penny they can which has put us miles ahead of the Ibrox NewCo and has made sure that we’re going to stay that way. I cannot hold that against them.
But this is a slippery slope, as should be all too apparent.
Scottish football is in too deep with the alcohol and gambling companies as it is; this is why I wonder, really, if this is all that big a deal. Because when we’ve got booze and betting on the shirt already it’s a little too late to get all moral about it.
Yet it does disquiet me, of course, because it makes you wonder just how far down we’d go for a few quid.
Back in the day, would we have put tobacco adverts on the strip?
If BAE Systems came in with more money than Dafabet, would we take their money and pretend not to know about Indonesia and other places where their “products” are in use?
Celtic is not just a football club; we are a social institution.
This is why those fans who have objected and made their feelings plain have done so, and I am in total sympathy with them on that score. There has to be a line somewhere, and I would hope to God that those who run things up at Parkhead know where that line is, because we cannot cross it without losing what we are.
So whilst I won’t completely join the chorus of condemnation – The Record has featured the fan’s anger, but underneath is a grim disappointment that their own favourite club didn’t think of this first – I won’t knock it either, because I do get where they are coming from.
Whilst I can’t get overly animated about it, I think it’s high time we started to move away from those so-called “traditional” markets. In the end, we’ll have to because the government is going to end up doing it for us. I’d rather we got in front of that.
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