In terms of the Celtic fan media, and with respect to all the other outlets, there is very little doubt that the coverage the women’s game gets in The Celtic Star and the Cynic are second to none. I’ll go even further; their coverage of the women’s game is unequalled in the whole of the football media, both fan and mainstream.
No sites have done more to promote the Celtic women’s team aside from the club’s official channels. The mainstream media pays women’s football only most modest attention. Sites like this one barely cover women’s football at all, a failing some might say that we should be aiming to correct not just in the remainder of this campaign but overall.
The Celtic Star sends someone to every single women’s game. Their promotion of the women’s team has drawn the plaudits of the club itself. You would think, in those circumstances, that they would have the respect of the governing bodies too.
Yet in spite of The Celtic Star’s efforts, last year, to promote the Women’s Cup Final at Tynecastle, when their editor applied to the SFA for the chance to cover the women’s game against Glasgow City at Hampden, they refused to grant any access.
The official reason given is that fan media has never had access to their press facilities.
Having spoken to The Celtic Star’s editor I can tell you that he and his team aren’t in the least bit happy with the way they’ve been treated here and have contacted the SFA media team about the matter, and included Celtic in the correspondence.
As they wait for a reply, imagine their surprise to see, on Twitter, The Rangers Standard doing an after-match webcast following the men’s semi-final win over their hapless club from – where else? – but the Hampden media suite?
Favouritism? Double standards? Bias?
All of those things, but perhaps not of the kind you think.
Before I go any further, The Celtic Star team is primarily concerned about the way the SFA has acted here, and their concern is for the failure to promote the women’s semi-final in the best, and most appropriate, manner.
As The Star’s editor pointed out to me earlier, our club sold 1000 tickets for that game, and Glasgow City perhaps half that.
That’s a lot of empty seats at the National Stadium, and part of the problem was that a lot of the mainstream media outlets didn’t bother to promote the game at all and those which did were very half-hearted about it.
These were the perfect conditions under which the SFA could have – and should have – reached out to fan media and treated them properly, and used them to promote the match.
The Celtic Star and The Cynic have done more to generate attention for these games than all of the mainstream press put together, and yet they couldn’t get access?
In the meantime, a prize clown like Peter Martin gets all that he needs, and even an interview with the Celtic manager Fran Alonso. I would be willing to bet his audience isn’t even close to what some of the bloggers have.
So who benefits from this cosy little arrangement?
The folks who always do. The status quo is protected at all costs.
Which brings me to the point that grates on me, above and beyond how it affects the way the women’s game is disenfranchised by this.
The Rangers Standard is the sister publication of The Celtic Way, an outlet which this site has drawn attention to before.
It is not, as it sometimes tries to maintain, a site “by the fans for the fans” but actually a mainstream media outlet which tries to pretend to be something it’s not.
The Celtic Way has a couple of outstanding writers, foremost amongst them Tony Haggarty and the ever-brilliant Kevin McKenna. These guys love the club, have followed it forever, wear their hearts on their sleeves and have the utmost respect for the bloggers.
But these guys aren’t, by any stretch of the imagination, fan media writers.
Tony has worked in the media for years, and Kevin McKenna has a fantastic, must-read column every weekend in The Sunday Herald.
These guys are pros, and amongst the best in their respective fields.
But their publication, and the one which writes about Ibrox, have deliberately tried to blur the line between the “official” titles and what we do here. I don’t mind the attempt, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth when they capitalise on their exalted status as part of the mainstream firmament whilst pretending not to be.
As part of our club’s continuing support for, and partnership with the blogs, we now get to ask questions to the manager alongside the likes of Sky. Celtic respects what we do here.
Still, no-one wants to officially bring us into the mainstream media’s little tent.
Yet, in my view, that day is edging ever closer and the more access we have at Celtic the harder it’s going to be for people to argue that we’re not, in fact, part of the firmament ourselves.
Yes, we are partisan. Yes, we are aggressive at times in the promotion of our club, and we view those same governing bodies, and indeed the mainstream media itself, with the deepest suspicion and often not a little anger.
But many of them view us the same way, and when the Ibrox club was going after key officials not that long ago many of the hacks and their publications were going right along for the ride.
That was nothing but the pushing of mad conspiracy theories for partisan gain … the kind of thing we are accused of.
But apparently alright when The Daily Record does it on behalf of the club over there.
No-one writes about our club better than we do, and I firmly believe that.
Celtic fan media understands this club in a way that nobody in the mainstream media comes close to.
Read some of the bilious garbage that spews from the likes of Keevins, with all his talk of how our fans would turn on Ange at the first major reversal, for some classic examples of that.
We write about our clubs with passion, insight, honesty and integrity.
Yes, there’s a word that some elsewhere struggle to understand.
When Celtic screws up we are amongst the first people to point it out, because we understand the issues and we care.
Celtic fans also understand the limitations playing in Scotland imposes on us and do not delude ourselves into thinking that money grows on trees and that “investment” and “pissing money against the wall” are the same thing, and yet that’s a trap the press falls into over and over again when they write about the finances at Ibrox.
The Celtic Star editor is quite right to be angry over this snub, and he was equally correct to accuse the SFA of “missing a trick” with their failure to see reason here.
Women’s football is growing in stature and popularity, but it would still benefit from this kind of coverage and exposure and especially from that handful of outlets that have done so much sterling work already to enhance it.
But the SFA remains firmly stuck in the mud, an organisation rendered immovable by its own grubby, parochial way of viewing the world, a world that continues to change at pace around it, as they flail desperately to keep up.
The important people here were the women taking part in the game, the important thing to give them the support and encouragement their corner of our sport needs to continue to grow and evolve.
The SFA decided to entrust that coverage to those who consider it an afterthought, and in doing so have posed big, big questions about the future direction of the media industry, an industry which whether they like it or not we’re now a big part of.
It’s the SFA itself which needs to grow, and evolve.
This was more than just a snub to a few fan media outlets.
This didn’t just disenfranchise those sites.
It put up an un-necessary, and damaging, obstacle to the promotion of women’s football … and it did so to protect a status quo that isn’t just hopelessly, lamentably, out of date but one which is dying on its arse.
Shame on them for that. Add it to the rest of their many sins.