Attracting fans back to the game

fans

On Wednesday of this week, Kilmarnock traveled the twenty-five miles to Celtic Park to take on the so-far unbeaten champions Celtic. Even with the home side on a poor run of form it is a daunting prospect, but with Celtic sweeping all aside in the league, it was a monumental challenge for a relatively young Kilmarnock side. Two-hundred or so Killie fans made the trip, and those fans have to be commended.

Taking the inevitable drubbing out of the equation, the biggest obstacle in the way of away fans attending was the ticket price. A staggering £26 per head. In many countries, a trip to the Champions would be looked at as an enticing prospect, but not in Scotland. But why?

The aforementioned entry fee is of course a major barrier, and we’ll look at that first. For a match between two majorly unmatched sides (a match that was lets not forget, rearranged to a Wednesday evening), to ask £52 for two to attend is a disgrace. With the poor transport links to Glasgow’s East End taken into account, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see away fans pay £35 for the privilege of attending Celtic Park. To put the price into perspective, a restaurant in Kilmarnock offers two main meals, two drinks and two cinema tickets for £25. A pound cheaper than it would cost one person to get into Celtic Park.

The atmosphere within Celtic Park itself doesn’t lend itself to an enjoyable experience either. The sectarianism and bile may have been eradicated from Celtic home games to a major extent, but the treatment away fans receive from the match day stewards in particular is shocking. The last time I looked, football was positioned firmly in the entertainment industry, and there’s nothing entertaining about being treated like common criminals for ninety minutes. If you take the risk of getting a train to the game, the journey itself is filled with uninformed opinions shouted at you, and on occasion, threats of violence. And that’s without taking into account the long walk you still have to make from the station to the ground. What can Celtic do to combat that I hear you ask?

For a club that is richer than most, would it be too much to ask for proper policing of transport links to the ground on match-days? Would it be too much to ask to drop prices to be more in line with the product on show? A product that Neil Lennon recently said was a “free game for most clubs”? And if a price reduction isn’t forthcoming, then can we at least be treated like human beings whist in the ground? Celtic would benefit from larger travelling supports if they took a few of the above points under consideration. Although you have to ask whether that is in part a calculated plan to keep the Celtic Park atmosphere relatively mute.

Celtic aren’t the only culprit of course, with Hearts also charging exorbitant amounts. Albeit, a trip to Tynecastle is an all-round more enjoyable experience. If you look at it objectively, the majority of Scottish Premiership clubs could do with reducing prices to get more fans through the gates. Scottish football proportionally is one of the most well attended leagues in Europe already, but it’s clear that there are even more fans waiting to be enticed back from the cinema and meal deals should the right offer be in place.

Looking at Kilmarnock briefly, the club secured a 2-2 draw with Ross County this weekend. Alexei Eremenko made his second debut, and was very impressive in a brief fifteen-minute cameo. New signing David Moberg Karlsson was ineligible because of a UEFA registration problem, and should be in the side that take on Dundee United in a fortnight’s time. A weekend off beckons for Killie, and that should allow Eremenko to gain even more fitness, and fully integrate himself into the squad. Kris Boyd looks like he’ll thrive under Losa’s service, and Kilmarnock should now be pushing on for a top-6 finish rather than fighting to avoid the play-off spot.

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  1. jas says:

    That’s the kind of stewarding that Celtic receive at every game home or away so welcome to our world. I agree the prices are too high,but it’s a bit like the pot and kettle. Kilmarnock are one of those opportunist clubs who raise prices for away fans when Celtic visit Rugby Park.

  2. James says:

    Your joking right , I’ve been in the states for 30 odd years now i was in Scotland few years ago a went to the 3-3 game Celtic – kilmsrnock , all I heard from the home support was that lite ditty about up to your knees in Fenian blood I was in the directors box and you would think the so called humans around me paying top doller what have a little more intelligence but no they all joined in Nothing done stewards and police stood by . You pieople chose to ignore this that sectarianism t
    Is part of your culture and if it’s. Not your songs then it’s bile , you just showed your colours you are not different than the institutiolised scum . Thank God I left

  3. HoudiniBhoy says:

    Russell, it’s a bit rich that you are complaining about how much Celtic charge away fans when you look at how much your own club, indeed just about all SPFL clubs, charge Celtic fans when they come to town. As for treatment of away fans, try being a Celtic fan at an away ground, I would encourage you in the interests of journalism to travel as a Celtic fan to home and away matches as see for yourself the similarities of what you describe in your article.

    What made me laugh, with no small amount of irony, was the fact I grew up in Kilmarnock and this sectarian bile you speak of is very much a cornerstone of Ayrshire life, which was very much prevalent in my formulative years. I came from a town outside Glasgow where I had been subjected to no abuse to the school I attended nor the team I supported to a town where I was subjected to all manners of abuse.

    A lot of people throw this whole sectarianism issue around claiming that it is synonymous with just Rangers and Celtic but I can assure you from my experience that is clearly not the case. It is a societal issue systematically ingrained with certain parts of Ayrshire, regardless of the team supported. The only saving grace is that many just do not bring it to a football match and sing about it, however, it does not disguise the fact that it isn’t there.

  4. Killiefan says:

    James…Killie fans sing “up to our knees in AYR blood”….the F word isn’t on our song sheet. (Not the sectarian one, at least!) Being one of those so-called Fs, I can happily vouch for that and can state in my (many!) years as a Killie fan, I’ve never heard our fans use the word at all. Some fans just hear what they want to hear, sadly. Please don’t tar us with that brush. “We’re not sectarian…we just hate everyone!”

  5. Ann says:

    Killiefan see when you need to sing the song that the now deadco fans sing week in week out, and use the apology that you have changed the words.
    Honestly what does that say about your support, who sang it first you or deadco ?
    And I was going to say when I first came on here welcome to our world, but I see someone has got there before me.
    And Russell pity you don’t bother with the bile at ibroke week in week out, because I promise you I don’t miss the bile at Celtic Park at all.

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