No one can dispute the dreadful crowd figures in
the League Cup. There were ten matches on Tuesday
drawing a total attendance of fewer than 19,000. The largest
gate was 4,150 at Rugby Park. There was a live Champions
League match featuring Man Utd on ITV the same evening.
The League Cup has a difficult enough task persuading
punters to turn out as it is. To try and compete with live
TV is just sheer folly.
Gates at the two Wednesday matches werent
that much better though the Stirling v Hearts game attracted
a capacity crowd to Forthbank. Sounds good until you remember
that were talking less than 3,000. All told the twelve League
Cup ties attracted under 23,000 in total - fewer than 2,000
Last years figures at the same stage were considered to
be extremely poor but they were still better than this seasons
to the tune of 250 spectators per match.
Quote of the week:
We dont allow our players to dive -
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson. Alan Shearer plays for
The Dave Clark Five, Rocky II, Edward Woodward,
Stars In Their Eyes, Lucozade, overturned lorries, teenage gangs,
oil refineries, Baywatch, David Hasselhoff, Pamela Andersons
buoyant bosoms. Just some of the name-checks
from this weeks Darryl Broadfoot match reports.
Still, our favourite hack cant be all that popular at The
Herald. Theyve sent him to Fife twice inside
three days with Motherwell as the opposition on both occasions.
Nice to see the great tradition of comic goalkeeping
is alive and well in the Premiership. Peter Enckelman, David
Seaman (again). Cant wait for the video.
Smaller teams always dream of a cup draw against
one of the Old Firm. Failing that, their next best bet is Kilmarnock.
Not only are they assured of one of the biggest gates of the night,
they are also more or less guaranteed a place in the next round.
Airdries penalty kicks triumph at Rugby
Park in the League Cup was the eighth time in the past
ten seasons that the Ayrshire side has fallen to lower
league opposition in this competition. Add in three similar
defeats in the Scottish Cup over the same period and, much
as it pains me to say it, knocking out Killie is no longer giant-killing,
merely par for the course.
Dick Advocaat has augmented his Ibrox pay-off
with a series of whinges in the Daily Record this week.
The paper has been featuring the story heavily on the front page
with a big picture of Advocaat alongside the single word Dick.
No need to read anymore. That about sums him up
You couldnt make it up department. Scotlands
referees are now being sponsored by Specsavers!
Celtic's gates are dropping against foes like Suduva
At first glance it seems a bit silly to talk about
declining gates at a club with an average home League attendance
of 57,000, but the warning signs are there for Celtic.
Crowds are down by an average of 1,500 on last season and
that figure is likely to increase as the season wears on and we
enter the winter period.
And while no one would expect a full house against minnows Suduva,
the attendance for that match was the lowest for a European tie
since Parkhead became an all-seater stadium. There were under
37,000 for the visit of the Lithuanians, more than 3,000 fewer than
the previous low against Jeunnesse of Luxembourg.
Of course Celtic have over 50,000 season ticket holders and thousands
more on the waiting list. But these fans are not buying season tickets
so that they can watch Celts demolish Dundee United or hump
Hibs. Theyre not even buying them as a guarantee of
getting tickets for semi-finals and finals - Celtics allocation
for these big games isnt enough to satisfy half
The main reasons for buying a season ticket are threefold. A holder
is guaranteed a seat twice a season for the Rangers games.
A season ticket is the passport to tickets for European ties.
And, finally, it ensures the holder gets in to Parkhead for all
The first reason remains unchallenged. But the second is looking
dodgy. Celtic wont meet a big name in the
UEFA Cup until the third round at least. At the very best
a run to the quarter-finals could produce opposition of a comparable
attraction to that of the first phase of the Champions League.
But the last time Celtic played in the last
eight of a European competition you could record the highlights
on a Betamax video.
As for guaranteeing a place at every game, this was one of Fergus
McCanns strokes of genius. In over 100 years of League
football prior to McCanns arrival at Parkhead, Celtics
highest average league attendance was 37,000.Somehow
McCann managed to persuade the supporters that the only way they
would be guaranteed one of the 60,000 seats at Celtic Park
was to buy a season ticket.
He revolutionised the clubs income at a stroke. Previously,
Celtic could fill their ground for the Old Firm games and big European
ties - just like today. But for other domestic fixtures there was
no great demand. Sure, if it was a title-clinching match or if a
provincial side was making a rare championship challenge then more
than 60,000 would roll up at Parkhead. But those fixtures were few
and far between. Other than for a handful of matches, Celtic Park
was usually half-full - or less.
McCann took a leaf out of Rangers book. Their
rivals had pulled the same stroke when rebuilding Ibrox. But McCann
upped the ante. He wanted his ground to be the biggest so the rebuilt
Parkhead holds 10,000 more than Ibrox or Hampden - a ground
McCann did his best to destroy, reasoning that Celtic could stage
international matches and pocket the lions share of the loot
in doing so.
But now the first stirrings of rebellion can be detected. Celtic
supporters are happy to take out loans and fork out a small fortune
in July if it gets them a guarantee that they can shell out more
to see Real Madrid, Man Utd or Juventus in the Champions
League. Theyre not quite so happy to do the same for the
privilege of watching Suduva.
And heres the rub. When (not if) the day comes when that waiting
list no longer wants to take up their season tickets, Celtic are
in big trouble. Once supporters start to realise that they can
get into 95% of games by paying at the gate, thats what theyll
The loss of 20,000-30,000 season ticket holders would be devastating
as all the cash collected up front and gathering interest vanishes
to be replaced by half as many people paying once a fortnight.
The only way out of this downward spiral is success in Europe. Which
of course is what Celtic havent had for over two decades.
Lest anyone think this article is prejudiced against the boys in
green, the same holds true for Rangers as well. The difference is
that with those extra 10,000 seats, Celtic have more to lose. Nor
is it restricted to Scotland. The most recent round of games in
the English premiership saw six of the ten fixtures sold out. But
at the four that didnt have house full notices
there was a combined total of over 30,000 empty seats. And
the Juventus v Arsenal tie in last seasons Champions
League attracted a paltry 8,562!
Once fans spot the empty places around them they start
to question the wisdom of their own purchase. At Celtic Park,
those gaps have started to appear.
For the Scottish Cup 1873-1939 click here
For the Scottish Cup Post-1945 click here
For the League Cup from 1946 click here