Celtic must stick up for supporters if FC Midtjylland crowd numbers also fall short
Today’s announcement that 2,000 supporters will be allowed in for the match between Celtic and Preston North End next weekend has received a mixed response.
Beyond the obviously positive news that fans will be allowed back into Celtic Park, there’s a serious concern about the size of the sparse gathering.
Only 3.33% of the 60,000 Paradise capacity will be used.
Admittedly, for a friendly and preparatory event that isn’t such a big deal.
However, with a huge Champions League tie taking place just days later on 20th July, it’s not quite good enough.
This isn’t to criticise the club. Much, if not all of this, is outside of their control. They can only lobby the Scottish Government and authorities and put forward their case.
However, after Dom McKay’s public hopes of a ‘good size’ crowd for the Midtjylland match, there is expectancy to have more fruitful negotiations, or at least communicate with the support beyond being ‘delighted’.
The new CEO was careful not to give a number on how many would be in for the European tie. However, he was hopeful of decent support, directly quoting the 12,500 at Hampden for Scotland games.
McKay told The Glasgow Times last month: “They are ongoing discussions. There are two data points. One is the Euros. The success of getting 12,500 into Hampden has been fantastic.
“The second data point is the direction of travel with the government. The first minister’s announcement last week that the restrictions are due to be lifted, in terms of social distancing on the 19th of July and then again August 8th is massively helpful.
“So the conversation this morning with the government was to say ‘okay, Celtic Football Club, this wonderful stadium, is ready to host crowds as soon as we possibly can.’
“So I suspect by the time we get to our European fixtures we’ll have a good size crowd back in. And then when we get into our new season we should have every reason to get even larger crowds back in.
“I don’t want to say a number because it’s not for me to indicate a number. But the data points give huge confidence that we’re going to be able to get supporters back in.”
Hopefully, we will see the club be a bit more forceful in their public statements, compared to today’s announcement. Other events in Scotland over the last month have far exceeded a 2,000 capacity.
If indeed that’s the small size of crowd in place for a huge European game, supporters must be told how and why authorities came to that decision.
A big push from the club is needed to secure a more welcome and sensible number.
Again, this isn’t Celtic’s fault, they will be hoping as much as anyone for bigger numbers to return. But they also have to publicly do their best to stick up for fans and season ticket holders who have again weighed in with serious cash.
Scottish football can’t afford to be getting the cold shoulder this season.