How Celtic are adapting US media techniques

By Euan Davidson

July 2, 2021

In case you haven’t seen it, something very US media style landed on the Celtic Twitter page this afternoon.

Now, “Mic’d Up” content is nothing necessarily new; rugby fans are used to their referees being audible on TV. There’s a debate about whether the same should be the case for football refs [BBC].

Meanwhile, some FAs having been sharing this kind of thing before; here’s Phil Neville coaching the England Women’s Team while wearing a mic [FA]. But for Celtic, this is a brand new approach, and already, supporters are absolutely loving it. Myself, very much included.

This is a much more common thing to see in US sports, where it’s been a certified ‘thing’ for a long time. The NBA, for example, have annual “mic’d up” highlights [NBA]. So, too, the NFL. Bringing fans as close to the action as possible has been of tantamount focus for sports clubs and broadcasters alike.

And judging from how engaged these fans are, it makes sense to explore that. But even beyond that, there’s something Celtic are doing that is reminiscent of US “franchises”. It’s engaging with fan-led media outlets.

US media style engagement could help bring Celtic closer to supporters

It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was just last week that Ange Postecoglou and Dom McKay spoke to fan media outlets at Celtic Park. Now, what’s American about this?

Well, it’s worth considering that fanzines have existed a long time in Scotland, and the DIY culture of football support has always had a presence. In terms of the online media world, though, the US has outlets such as SB Nation and Fansided. Both of those started as fan blogs for individual teams, namely the Oakland Athletics and the Kansas City Chiefs, and are now huge media outlets, owned by conglomerates.

These former blogs attracted fans of other clubs, and began a fan media culture that is dominant in North America. Sites like Grantland, The Ringer and more combined broadsheet analysis with the enthusiasm of fan writing. That’s something akin to what we’re seeing with Celtic fan media in this day and age.

This seems like something Dom McKay knows pretty well. He told supporters last week [67 Hail Hail/YouTube]:

“I spent a lot of time in North American sport, learning about what happens behind the scenes there. And fan media is a very effective part of sporting franchises. There’s some lessons for us to learn from other parts of the world”.

Photo via Getty Images Creative

That American influence has immediately become obvious. No, we don’t want matches played in quarters, and energy drinks sponsoring corner kicks. But there are basic supporter engagement tricks that bring fans closer to the players, the manager and the club itself.

If that includes hearing what our manager is saying at training, more behind-the-scenes footage, and building on things like the “Unique Angle”, then all the better.

We draw the line at confetti and cannons when we score, though.

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