One of the direst consequences of Ibrox’s decision to cut our allocation is that now every club in the top flight is listening to the most radical voices amongst its fan-base and slashing the number of away tickets left, right and centre.
Yesterday that reached its inevitable, and horrifying, conclusion at Kilmarnock where hundreds of Celtic fans were standing outside trying to buy tickets from one another, whilst inside the ground there were many, many, many empty seats.
I was shocked when a mate of mine asked me, after the game, if I knew what the capacity at Kilmarnock is and what the attendance at the game was. The capacity is nearly 18,000. Yesterday’s attendance was 8,201.
There were near enough 10,000 empty seats in that ground yesterday.
Ten thousand. At £30 a ticket the home club might have left a couple of hundred grand at the very least on the table yesterday and if they can afford that great.
Factor in two visits a season from us and from the club across the city though and that’s a potential £1 million they don’t have to spend on players and on salaries and on a halfway decent coaching team.
Which is quite possibly a factor in why they are sitting just above the drop zone right now.
So who benefits from this insanity? Not the club itself. Certainly not Scottish football.
It was embarrassing to watch that game on the telly yesterday with all those empty seats. Denying Celtic fans two stands or even three … was that a measure proposed, at first, to stop us turning an away match into a home game? Was it supposed to result in us dropping points or something? We had scored 4 inside 30 minutes … so how did that turn out?
What we are seeing at some of these clubs now is nothing short of blind intransigence and outright stupidity, and all the while people who would have been willing, paying customers are stuck outside holding up their money, begging clubs to take it.
Is Scottish football sufficiently wealthy – are these clubs sufficiently wealthy – that they can turn up their noses at the hard cash on offer?
In the meantime, every now and again you get some halfwit at one of these clubs suggesting that the “fair” way to distribute wealth in the league is to divide ticket money evenly between all the teams!
In short, your season ticket money would go to propping the Kilmarnock’s and Motherwell’s up even as their own stands sit empty and our fans stand outside.
The continuing insult done to our supporters is hard to stomach, and whilst I don’t know any Celtic fan who wants to see SPFL clubs dropping like flies (we are not the seriously disturbed supporters of Ibrox who thirst for vengeance for phantom sins) I know that the general attitude amongst many of us is “hell mend them.”
Watching those scenes yesterday, it is very difficult to argue with that, and what’s worse is that the papers only want to write about Ibrox’s temper tantrum over our fans and our very rational, lucid reaction to that.
But the bigger problem shows a far greater insanity on the loose, and the genuine disenfranchising of away supporters.
And it sometimes seems to me that nobody in the press wants to cover that story at all.
Yet they should. This is what a genuine crisis looks like … and the clubs are inflicting this damage on themselves to nobody’s benefit. There need to be hard questions about that, and a search for some sensible solutions.