Today's Celtic gesture shouldn't be underrated

By Euan Davidson

June 23, 2021

Amidst Ange Postecoglou arriving at Celtic, Leigh Griffiths quotes and erm, Mark Fotheringham chat, something may have missed your attention today.

Celtic are offering 5 free Celtic B and Celtic Women games free to view through Pass to Paradise on the season ticket. And while yes, there’s a story on it already, it’s really crucial that this gets the recognition it deserves. The Celtic Women’s team were a genuine delight to watch last season, qualifying for the Champions League and taking the league title race to the final day.

Celtic B, meanwhile, will be new participants in the SLFL for 21-22. Apart from being able to turn up to matches in half-empty stadiums, at weird times of day, this isn’t the kind of access we’ve had before. And while, yes, it’s only available to season ticket holders next season, it’s a huge improvement on the policies of the past.

As an avid Celtic supporter for a considerable length of time, I could count the number of Women’s and Reserve games I’ve been able to watch on one hand, prior to this season. The access just wasn’t there. Unless you are a journalist, or incredibly dedicated and in the know, seeing Reserve or Celtic Youth football was, more often than not, a task beyond the reach of most.

Ok, some will argue; it’s ten games. Does it really mean all that much? Yes, it does. This isn’t just a wee offer to get some of the support onside, it’s indicative of a culture change at Celtic.

Access to Celtic B and Celtic Women’s games is a big deal

Here’s the thing: Celtic didn’t have to do this. And while a bigger sponsorship and TV rights deal is surely due for the SWPL after the success of 20-21, that’s outwith the control of Celtic alone. Here’s hoping that we’re able to view SWPL games with the regularity of last season. Or, at the risk of sounding greedy, even more games aired on the likes of BBC Alba, or the BBC’s website.

In their own right, the Celtic FC Women team was amazing to watch. You were essentially guaranteed goals, big results and the charismatic leadership of Fran Alonso. But in contrast to the struggles of the men’s team, they were an absolute relief. A team in Green and White was playing attractive, attacking football, with an extremely likeable boss at the helm. Long may that continue.

Celtic FC Women head coach Fran Alonso / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

As for the B Team, it’s a leap into the unknown. However, it could have benefits for the SLFL; if there’s sufficient interest in the games, it may pique the interest of broadcasters elsewhere. Fine, it won’t be Sky Sports and the Premier League in 1992, but it’s a start.

If this is Dominic McKay showing his hand, and insisting on increased exposure beyond the men’s first team, then kudos to the ex-SRU man. And while some may see it as a token gesture, or insufficient, consider how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. Women’s players have become household names, and the B Team will have stars of its own.

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