The radical Celtic shares for season tickets proposal: explained

By Euan Davidson

March 24, 2021

The Celtic Trust have announced they intend to step up their campaign for supporters to receive shares as a form of refund.

With Covid-19 shortchanging season ticket holders, fans have been locked out of Paradise since last March. While clubs around the world have offered to make it up to supporters, Celtic have only suggested “added value”. What this “added value” is has been unclear.

The Trust, through their website, have set out their agenda. Their campaign is aimed at putting pressure on the Celtic board to allocate shares as a form of recompense for Celtic supporters. In setting our their stall, the Trust claimed:

“The Trust has worked with Celtic for over 20 years on a number of fan initiatives such as the creation of the safe standing section. Similar to much of our previous work, we have worked alongside other supporters’ organisations to develop the share proposal.

“Whilst we do not claim to speak on behalf of the entire support, we do speak for our members and it is our belief that all fans would benefit from this proposal. It is important that the club are held to their earlier promise to supporters.”

Celtic fans protest the board, earlier this season / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

So: what’s the Celtic shares plan set out by the Celtic Trust?

The Celtic Trust are demanding that season ticket holders are repaid in Ordinary shares. Ordinary shares allow holders to attend AGMs, and enjoy voting rights. They are different to Preferential shares, which come with a financial dividend. So, say the club turns over a significant profit, only Preferential shareholders would see any of that money.

Money from the club is not the agenda, clearly. It’s the opportunity to have a say in the running of the club.

Furthermore, these shares would be owned by individuals. The Trust stresses that there would be no necessity to join the Celtic Trust, unless they decided to voluntarily. So, just because the Celtic Trust ensured this action, it does not equal membership for season ticket holders who receive shares.

As the Trust say:

“….shares received as part of the proposal would be owned individually by each season ticket holder, who could choose to do what they wished with them.

There would be no requirement or expectation for fans to join The Celtic Trust if they receive shares.”

Are cash refunds on the table? / (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Why not a cash refund? Why Celtic shares?

Well, two reasons:

  1. The club is incredibly unlikely to offer cash refunds. The terms and conditions of the season ticket were changed in light of the Covid pandemic. Taking all of the season ticket money from the club would leave Celtic in a precarious financial situation; just as it would for any other club, big or small.
  2. Taking money from the club would put it in a weak position for strengthening in the summer. That’d be massively counterproductive.

While Covid-19 has left many individuals and families with a tighter financial situation than before, cash refunds from the club just aren’t going to happen. However, the Trust are offering to attempt to purchase shares from supporters who wish to get their money back. This is by no means a guarantee though.

Celtic supporters can be more involved with the running of the club /(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

What is the value of the shares?

The Trust are suggesting that shares will be worth the equivalent of £460. That’s £550 from season tickets, minus £90 for Celtic TV.

Of course, as is the case with shares, these values can fluctuate over time.

Celtic supporters / (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Who benefits?

Ideally, everyone.

Supporters can have a bigger say in the club, and from a technical stand-point, there will be more fan ownership of the club. It’d be a small bloc in comparison to Desmond or Lawwell’s share percentage, but it’d be significant. Normal Celtic supporters can vote in AGMs and on board appointments.

The club would benefit, because it would help to placate a huge number of supporters. It would also quell demand for cash refunds, which would be enormously detrimental to the running of the club.

It could also help the club make more popular decisions in terms of the match-day experience, footballing strategy, its international reputation and overall engagement with supporters. Theoretically, if more fans are involved, they’ll be able to CSCs and feed back in a more holistic and regular way.

No, it doesn’t make up for missing matches. The sights and sounds of a game at Celtic Park, the patter on the supporters’ buses, the tension in the moments before kick-off, celebrating goals. None of that is replaceable. This is, however, a good scenario. It leaves Celtic supporters with more influence over their club.

Given everything we’ve seen this year, that can only be a good thing.

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