Motherwell’s Historic “Offer” To Celtic Fans Is A Reminder Of What We Used To Have Here.

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As regular readers are well aware, I’ve been writing a lot about the ticket situation that is faced by our fans at the moment. I’ve also been reading a lot, and trying to understand why our SPFL rival clubs feel the way they do about this matter, and I think I’ve started to get something of a grip on it. I’ll discuss that more fully and freely in a larger article.

But whilst I was contemplating all this, my old man raised a fact that took me completely by surprise, and whilst I didn’t doubt that he had it right I wanted to run down the story and check it for myself, so that I knew I had it right before I wrote about it.

Back in the 90’s, when Motherwell were redeveloping their stadium, part of which they paid off the debts on through the Phil O’Donnell transfer to Celtic (another redevelopment later was partly funded by the sale of David Turnbull), their club actually offered tickets in their away end to our fans and those of the first Ibrox club on a debenture scheme basis.

Yes, that’s right. Now the mechanics of this still aren’t clear to me, and there are only sporadic mentions of it here and there, but the Fir Park Wikipedia page confirms it happened and some Motherwell fans who regularly post on message boards have also confirmed that it happened although, as I said, details are sparse.

According to Wiki, they were £20. I doubt that was a one-off payment but you never know.

Maybe it was annually, or monthly. I genuinely have no idea, but the offer was real, they marketed it at “Old Firm fans” and over 600 were sold … mostly to the mob across the city.

It worked the same way that any debenture scheme did; in the event a game was being played there that you wanted to see, you would have first refusal on that ticket for that seat.

You still had to pay for the individual match ticket – a seismic shock to those Ibrox fans who bought debentures for their first club all those years ago, thinking it was a “season ticket for life” they’d purchased, which is why I laughed when I heard it was their fans who mostly snapped these up, doubtless thinking the same – but there would be no more scrambling for away briefs in ballots ever again. That seat was guaranteed.

I would love to know if any Celtic fans out there reading this bought one of those debentures. I would love to know if that agreement is still valid to this day, or if it was rescinded somewhere along the line.

I do know that the Motherwell fans who posted on it and commented on it in the present day think it one of the cringiest things their club has ever done, and would want no part of a similar exercise now. Still, it’s reminder of the days when the clubs had a little more respect for our supporters and recognised the very real good we’ve done over the years.

Like I said, I’m studying this matter from the point of view of the clubs who are imposing these new arrangements on us, and believe it or not, I’ve come to sympathise with some of the views of the supporters’ reps at those clubs who have pushed for some of the restrictions. I think it’s overkill in many cases, and I think it creates an unsafe environment … but they have very good reasons for feeling the way they do, reasons that I, as a fan, can appreciate.

Like I said, I’ll do something larger on that soon enough, but for the moment I thought that was an interesting story to bring up, of how Motherwell once offered Celtic fans a “seat for life” at their ground for just £20.

Those were the days alright.

I’d love to hear from anyone who bought one of these debentures, or any Motherwell fan who reads this blog and has memories either of that or what happened to the seats. You can send me a comment or drop the site an email.

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  • Benjamin says:

    This sort of arrangement is very common in America, though not necessarily for away fans. Teams use these schemes to fund stadium construction, and the prices over there to ‘buy’ a seat (without any tickets to individual games) is in the 4-5 figure range. The most expensive seats in the LA Rams new stadium required a seat license that cost $100,000, although at that price the perks included a lot more than just the right to buy a ticket. There’s an entire Wikipedia page on the concept and which teams in North America have sold Personal Seat Licenses. There’s even a fairly robust second hand market for people who no longer want to buy actual tickets – the seat licenses over there are almost always transferable and can be sold just like any other asset.

  • Motherwellnet says:

    When the South Stand at Fir Park was nearing completion in the early 90’s there was an advert in a match day programme aimed at the Old Firm clubs where they could pay £20 and this would essentially reserve a seat for you for ten years, it was a one off fee plus your match ticket price. The construction of the two stands and the renovation of the East Stand meant the Fir Park attendance was halved as we said goodbye to the terracing, with the now limited seats available for Old Firm fans I can only assume that the board thought that they could have shifted those ten thousand seats and made a nice wee sum, however I don’t recall a final total ever being mentioned. If I can find the ad I will be sure to forward it on to you.

    None of the Phil O’Donnell cash went to the rebuild of Fir Park instead Alex McLeish made a point when he took the ‘Well job that he would only take it on the provision that O’Donnell was not sold then a few months later he decided that we could cope without him when we were offered a sum we couldn’t refuse. McLeish spent the lot breaking our transfer record twice taking us from 2nd to relegation candidates pretty quickly.

    • James Forrest says:

      That information is excellent and very welcome 🙂

      Thank you very much for that my friend, that illuminates the matter rather well.

  • Stephen says:

    Tip. There was an advert in the Daily Ranger.

  • Stevie M says:

    I remember this quite clearly. Old firm fans were up in arms thinking we were exploiting them , which we were, but what they don’t know it was David Murray who made the money making scheme suggestion to the Fir Park board at an SPL get together at Gleneagles. From memory it wasn’t a payment every season because £20 was a good sum then , it was a one off and the OF fans biggest concern was what happens if we were relegated and didn’t come back up. In hindsight would have been a deal as we’ve never been relegated. Personally I didn’t agree with it because it was screwing fans over. Money for your right to pay more money seems immoral but David Murray was never a man to disapprove of immoral activity. I certainly don’t think the scheme has any residual activity.

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