Domestic performances and a lack of a viable challenger HAS had a damaging effect on attendances at Celtic Park. The official figures released recently don’t make good reading with 10,000 season book holders regularly not attending home games. These are people who have already bought a ticket so the impact this season is not as sever but with (eg) £2.50 per head spent by attendees at Celtic, that is still circa £500,000 out of our budget. Moreover, once people get into the habit of not attending, how many will renew for next season?
I fully expect the board will review this when considering season book prices for next season. I expect the £50 kids tickets to be in place and a one off discount of up to £100 as a reward to those of us who bought season books AND shelled out for all those European tickets. Additionally as I have identified on twitter, we need to consider these attendance figures in the context of the wider European economic downturn. Across Europe, attendances are falling. Indeed on a year on year attendance comparison Scotland is performing 4th best in Europe, but unlike other Champions league competitors, we have a much greater reliance on people through the door – getting back to our domestic performances.
The first part of the season saw some dreadful games at Celtic Park. Indeed as we went into the Ross County game, our expensively assembled squad (in SPL terms) was the joint lowest scoring home team in the league. Since then there has been a transformation however. Including the Ross County game on 22nd December, in the 8 home games from that fixture we have failed to score at least 4 goals only once – a 1-0 victory over Motherwell. In the last 8 home games we have therefore averaged 4 goals a game at Celtic Park – not bad value for money. During that time we have played away and at Hampden and those games… In the last 6 away league games and one trip to Hampden we managed just 1 win and 1 draw!
One or two of the away performances are understandable, acceptable – the players are human, but that number?
Again there has been considerable debate online about the cause and obviously there must be a laissiez-faire attitude among many of our first team players, but with this number of poor performances the question must also be asked if this laissiez-faire attitude extends to the management team. Regular readers will know I like Lennon. Unlike some who after defeats have grasped at the lazy “tactically naïve” tag, I think Lennon has shown a pleasing readiness to try Plan A, Plan B, Plan C etc – indeed my criticism is that at times I think he has tried to be too smart when sticking with the best formation (4-3-3 in my opinion) and sticking with the best players (Charlie Mulgrew doesn’t HAVE to play EVERY WEEK) might have got the job done.
The only defence of the management team during these poor performances is unfortunately for those who like Lennon, a reason as to why football managers don’t really matter – it’s not his fault it’s prima donna players. Well if he can’t make the players perform at the requisite standard what’s the point in paying the big bucks?
Celtic have a cup semi coming up at Hampden where we have reserved some of our poorest performances of late. We have the chance to tie up the title in the next game or so and we have season book renewals coming in. The budgeting of the club is based upon guaranteed revenues. The success of Champions League is a bonus. The poor performances domestically will no doubt see the club spends some of that CL windfall on reduced season book costs for 2013/14, but heavy discounting is always a big gamble for any business. Let’s hope the laissiez-faire domestic performances do not result in a squandered post Barca legacy for our club. If they do I cannot see the board countenancing them continuing through another domestic campaign.