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Kilmarnock’s Press Release Does Not Justify Locking Out Thousands Of Celtic Fans.

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Today the media is full of Kilmarnock’s happy statement about how their decision to lock many thousands of our fans and those from Ibrox out of their ground has paid off. They haven’t lost significant revenues. As hard as I find that to believe, their numbers actually bear it out. Which is part of what’s wrong with the picture.

What a country we have here where clubs like this would rather have empty stands than welcome customers who want to pay to watch their teams.

Kilmarnock’s average attendance last season was just over 6000.

Their stadium holds three times that.

So what if there hasn’t been a marked decrease in their attendances, which is how they come up with the figures they are tossing around today?

This is a club which doesn’t come close to filling its ground on an average week, willingly turning away business. That should not be welcomed. It is idiocy.

And they aren’t the only club which indulges this lunacy, of course.

The SPFL could step in and do something about it, but they won’t. They too would prefer that an 18,000 capacity ground sits mostly empty even when tens of thousands of our fans would gladly buy tickets to attend our games there. That’s just wrong, and I cannot believe they allow it.

How are we supposed to attract investment into our game when televised matches take place in front of empty seats? It makes it look like no-one cares about football here, which we know is far from the truth, because we have some of the most passionate fans in Europe.

If a neutral watched one of those matches, what would they say if you told them that those stands could easily have been filled … but the home club turned thousands of customers away?

They would think you were mad. And they would be right, because it is mad. This is not Tynecastle, which their club regularly fills now.

This is not Ibrox, where they can sell every single one of their home match tickets just as we can. Kilmarnock have only recently come back up.

Last season they were very lucky not to go down.

They may think that’s worth celebrating and being optimistic about, and they might not think 4000 or so extra Celtic fans twice a year would make that big a difference to their finances … but you can do the maths on the back of a napkin.

If they sold those tickets to us and the Ibrox club, and got the full quota of two home games for each club they would make an extra £320,000 in a season, and that’s based on a flat ticket price of £20 and it’s often much higher than that.

At £25 a ticket the figure rises to £400,000. At £30 a ticket you’re talking about £480,000 and to put that in context, their total gate receipts (not including season ticket income) for the year ending May 2022, were £488,000. A club which doesn’t want to put the same again onto their income shouldn’t be patting itself on the back and the media shouldn’t let them.

That kind of money wouldn’t get a Celtic director out of bed in the morning, but for a club like Kilmarnock that’s a tidy sum and could easily buy them a first team starter.

And if that player is the difference between a European place and mid table ignominy, isn’t it worth it? More than that, if it’s the difference between staying up and going down what then?

And that’s the gamble, and if they want to leave that money on the table then that’s their own lookout.

If at the end of the season they are rooted to the bottom because they didn’t have that better footballer in a key position, will it still be worth it?

The decision to cut those allocations was taken four seasons ago; they got relegated the following year, so there’s an argument to be made for how much it already cost them, and last season they finished 11th.

So a justified decision? I have my doubts.

To me it reads as madness, but they seem comfortable with it and the media evidently thinks it represents strategic genius.

The same newspapers which constantly poke and prod at us to “get round the table” with the Ibrox club and sort out the ticketing standoff (which is that club’s fault, of course) is perfectly fine with our fans being excluded from other grounds even when there’s plenty of space for us there.

And people wonder how our game is in such a state.

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