Today Hearts issued an update on the number of tickets Celtic will get for the upcoming game at their ground; less than 600.
We used to get 3000.
Those days are over until there is some sort of concerted action from the governing body to guarantee a minimum allocation for away fans. It is overdue, and the issue should be forced if it comes to that.
It might come to that. Celtic’s determination to see this Ibrox situation through to its natural conclusion is unwavering. The SPFL are going to need to step in at some point, and that might be the point where the minimum guarantee is finally written in stone.
I cannot believe that it does not exist already, but that’s the Scottish game for you.
From 3000 tickets to under 600. That’s some drop, and it’s all well and good saying that Hearts can fill the stadium so it doesn’t matter. Their reasons are even more specious than those at Ibrox; they give Hibs fans a full stand for God’s sake, so all the justifications based on their “7000 waiting list” are a bunch of baloney.
This has nothing to do with that. They want to retain the marketing aspects of the Edinburgh derby, but for the games against us (and against Ibrox) they simply want a narrow sliver of advantage, that’s it, its really down to that. Not that it has done them much good, because we still routinely go there and win and the Ibrox club does as well.
Still, this craziness has spread out across the game like a cancer, and our governing body, which plainly has no interest in actually governing, has allowed it.
Talk about sleeping at the wheel. The away fan experience in Scottish football has been greatly reduced and the standing of the league has been affected.
The main sponsor just walked out three years into a five-year deal; that’s mostly down to the club across the city, sure, but it’s also down to matches on TV being played in front of half empty grounds whilst thousands of fans can’t attend.
As frustrating as it is for fans, it’s also immensely dangerous to the sport. What if we do eradicate the away fan experience here in Scotland, forever? It used to be custom and routine to go to away matches; what if in the future that dies completely? How long before clubs are suffering for it? Nobody seems to care. A minimum guarantee protects everyone.
During the whole controversy over the Tory government’s travel rules, which would have given supporters bus operators and supporters clubs themselves a host of nightmares, there was talk about the impact this would have on towns which away fans visit and how a lot of smaller businesses would go out of business as a result; the SPFL is presiding over a policy which is going to do much the same damage, and nobody wants to acknowledge it.
Fans all across Scotland came together to oppose the Tory measures, some of them apparently not noticing that their own clubs and others are already killing the away day experience in a way no legislation ever could.
That is more than just short-sighted, it is myopic.
And it only happens because we have a spineless football legislature which allows this sort of thing. It prefers to have certain regulations which offer no protection to the fan at all.
This has to change, and I hope Celtic do go through with their ban of Ibrox fans to Parkhead and drag the SPFL and the SFA where they all too obviously don’t want to go.