Yesterday, my old man sent me a story from Glasgow Live, a publication who my contempt for has been made obvious several times.
But the story itself was interesting for once.
Not a headline maker, and not one other outlet has taken it up, but revealing nonetheless, in no small way because it’s a good reminder that there are people out there who spent their free time raking through bins and looking for whatever “dirt” on us that they can find.
The subject is the result of a Freedom of Information request into how much council money has been spent at Celtic Park, Ibrox and Hampden over the last five years. This is for the use of function suites and executive facilities.
The article says that three of them were Erasmus events – that’s the EU’s organisation for promoting education, youth and sport.
The grand total spent at Celtic Park over that five-year spell is £140,000.
We’re not going to be extending the Main Stand on the back of income like that; less than £30,000 a year. We’ve hosted 22 events for the council over that spell – four a year, so it’s not massive.
This would be the definition of a non-story but for the rest of the report.
Hampden has been rented out seven times.
We’ve hosted three times as many events. That alone would have the tongues wagging on certain Ibrox fan-sites. But here’s my favourite part; in that five-year spell they have not rented out Ibrox once. Not one time.
And I can imagine that this was just the information that whoever submitted that request had been looking for. Celtic Park gets used and Ibrox does not!
The Unseen Hand finally exposed! Forget that the sums are so miniscule that we could barely pay the win bonuses for a month with them, this will be all some people need to see what they want to.
If Ibrox doesn’t get used – ever – there are very good reasons why.
The first of them is obvious; Celtic Park just has more to offer than the two other grounds. At various stages during those five years, we’ve seen plenty of pictures of the interior of Ibrox with water pissing out of the ceiling.
We’ve heard reports about how bad the damage that years of lack of repairs wrought. Yes, they’ve done up certain parts of it and upped the spending on the infrastructure but Celtic Park is still superior.
Hampden is a dump.
The only reason to hold an event there rather than at Celtic Park is that certain people might be worried about stories such as this winding up in the press. There is certainly no other compelling reason why anyone would go there over our ground.
The article talks about the capacity of the function suites at all three stadiums as if that is the only factor; how many people can be crammed into them. Celtic Park, by the way, had the biggest out of the three until Ibrox completed one recently.
But it’s the quality of them that is of far more importance to these organisations, and we have more than an edge when it comes to that.
The other reason Ibrox doesn’t get used is a much more personal one.
They have done nothing whatsoever to build a good relationship with the council; on the contrary. They have gone out of their way to pick fights over every little thing.
I get angry over Brian Wilson’s continual pot-shots at the SNP because they are in government in Holyrood and run the council, and we need to work with them, but that’s one guy. It’s not reflective of Celtic as a whole.
The SFA has actually treated the Scottish Government with utter contempt at times and so I’m surprised they’ve spent money at Hampden at all.
At Ibrox, their club, the whole club, has deliberately fostered an adversarial relationship with the council and the government.
The council, in particular, have been subjected to more than a few unhinged attacks from their boardroom. No wonder the council doesn’t want to hold functions there; why in God’s name should they?
The council has defended the figures on the grounds that Celtic Park simply has better facilities; whilst undeniably being true, this is the sting in the tail for those who went seeking this information.
It is the last thing they would have wanted to hear.
Over the years we’ve have plenty of this stuff; the guy we all refer to as The State Aid Nutjob banged on about land deals and the like so much that there was an official EU investigation into all his ridiculous claims, none of which amounted to a thing.
There’s clearly a nasty intent behind seeking this information out, but it actually turned out rather well for us.
Because it’s a good advertisement for our superior amenities and should be a factor in any other outside organisation’s decision when they have the choice of the three stadiums and wants to know which one is the best.
The council says that’s us.