Celtic Owes The Supporters More Than Just A Kevin Bridges Bus Stop Joke.

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Before long, the season ticket forms are going to be going out and our fans are going to be bombarded with PR about how important it is to renew.

Expect a love bombing to be part of that strategy.

It’s a sales technique that has been working for companies all over the world for years.

The “family” concept makes us feel like we’re all in it together.

Long term customers are always told they are “valued”.

Fans may even be gently reminded that they are the truly important people, the folk who make Celtic great.

On a psychological level, this stuff works.

All of it is a pitch to get you to spend money.

But there are other kinds of pitches. They put a deadline on these things for starters.

That’s the equivalent of a store offering something “for a limited time only.”

Get it before it runs out is another one; that’s the pitch to season ticket holders who might be worried that someone on the waiting list will ghost in and take their highly prized seat.

My favourite is the “special offer.”

Last season it was the alleged “extra value” con-job, which hasn’t materialised yet.

But it will be resurrected when those forms came out.

Across the city, they’ve got this down to a fine art with their “points” schemes and other such trickery. All of it is designed to lock supporters into an endless cycle of spending.

The psychology behind that is diabolically brilliant.

It always makes me think of Hearts In Atlantis, King’s brilliant novel which I’ve talked about on this site before and can’t praise highly enough, especially the eponymous story which makes up the second segment of the book.

In that novella, set in the early 60’s, a group of college students risk their places (and in turn risk being drafted to the Vietnam War) because they’ve been sucked into the dreadful orbit of a revolving Hearts tournament in their homeroom … eventually it’s got to the point where they don’t even so much play for money against one another as “tournament points” … utterly worthless, but for which they are literally risking their lives.

Because once you invest in something like that, once you’ve put time and sweat and blood into it, it’s difficult to just walk away.

Over there, fans who do decide not to renew know their accumulated points are gone.

The longer they spend in that cycle the tougher it will be for them to ever break out of it, no matter what circumstances they find themselves in. It is cynical and exploitative and especially during the current crisis.

But they’ve never shown much restraint in robbing their fans blind … little things like the fall in median household income won’t change that.

Celtic, I’m sure, has considered a similar scheme.

We’re lucky it’s never been implemented.

There’s a danger that our new CEO might try something not unlike it.

In the meantime, we’re about to find out how worthless, and even contemptuous, “added value” can be.

The best way to highlight what we’re talking about is with a joke.

Glasgow’s resident comic genius, Kevin Bridges, was making his TV debut, on the Michael McIntryre show when he told the story of how he encountered “a friendly mad-man” at a bus-stop one night.

“Give me a quid, or you’re getting stabbed …” was the central demand.

What makes it hilarious is that Kevin describes this as an “offer” which is “quite reasonable”.

In a wonderful monologue that gets funnier as it goes on, he talks about how he’s never been stabbed but speculates that “it would be somewhat inconvenient” and “might even put a dampner on your evening.”

But, here, he says, this “gentlemen” has offered him a way “to bypass this horrendous ordeal … in this current financial climate … for a mere pound.”

“Now,” he says, “I’m a sucker for a bargain …”

And that’s what Celtic will be doing to Celtic’s season ticket holders if the “added value” of buying last season’s ticket is some “10% off next season’s” or some other tired old sales ploy which we’ve seen a hundred times before.

Because make no mistake, no matter how they dress it up, if Lennon is in the dugout and looks set to stay there, if “the plan” is only a vague set of “ambitions” and fans get no concrete information on it, then no matter how “reasonable” it seems they’ll still be pressing you for an early decision and holding the threat of the waiting list over your head.

In short, it’ll be “give me your money”, under threat or some form of blackmail.

Subtler, for sure, than a crime at knifepoint but no less brutal in terms of how it frames the relationship between the club and the fans.

They see us as mugs.

That couldn’t be clearer in the way they’ve treated us this season, and even taking £100 off the price of next season’s tickets won’t hide the fact that the £500 they are asking for represents something other than a bargain.

Especially in the current financial climate.

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