Sep 302012
 

Here’s What You Could Have Bought

Recently, Duff and Phelps released their final report to the creditors of Rangers Football Club. In amongst several other eye watering amounts, D&P revealed that the total amount HMRC are pursuing Rangers for is £94,426,217.22 (don’t forget the 22p). Now, to put that into context, I calculated that to be the equivalent value of five Tore Andre Flo’s (at £12m each), three Paul Gascoigne’s (at £4.3m each), two Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s (at £5m each), one Artur Numan (at £4.5m) and still over £7m cash (perhaps for a partridge in a pear tree). For the record, these figures are those Rangers paid when purchasing the players.

Now, let me give you a few examples which I feel highlight the true cost of Rangers’ tax evasion and financial doping.

The highest figure Celtic have ever paid for a player is £6 million for Chris Sutton. With the money Rangers stole from the taxpayer over the years, Celtic could have bought fifteen Chris Sutton’s, and still have had enough left over for a few Henrik Larsson’s.

The highest fee Aberdeen have ever paid for a player is £1m (for Paul Bernard). With the amount of money Rangers saved, Aberdeen could have bought thirty four Paul Bernard’s, and Fernando Torres.

In 1995, Dundee United signed Steven Pressley for £750,000. With an extra £94m, they could have signed Cristiano Ronaldo and nineteen Steven Pressley’s.

In 2006, Hearts paid £850,000 for Mirsad Beslija from Racing Genk. If they’d stolen an equivalent sum of money as Rangers, this could have attracted Kaka as well as several others to Tynecastle (theoretically speaking).

Now, I feel these statistics tell their own stories.

With BDO potentially set to move in the near future, we’ll soon find out whether crime really doesn’t pay.

 

Sep 262012
 

“Willie”

William Dunning was born on January 2nd, 1865, in Arthurlie, East Renfrewshire. At the age of twenty three, after spending his early footballing days between the sticks with Johnstone Juniors, the young goalkeeper joined Glasgow’s newest club, Celtic, in 1888. He made his debut for the Celts in the Club’s first ever Scottish Cup tie, a 5-1 victory over Shettleston in the first round on the 1st September, 1888.

Willie would predominantly feature in the Scottish Cup for Celtic, as well as occasionally in the Glasgow Cup and friendlies (keep in mind the Scottish League system was not introduced until 1890-91). Only days after his debut, Willie featured as Celtic lost 0-2 to Cowlairs in the Glasgow Exhibition Cup Final. Ironically, a week later, the Celts (with Dunning once again in goal) defeated the same Cowlairs side 8-0 at Celtic Park in the second round of the Scottish Cup. Willie would also feature in the next round, as Celtic beat Albion Rovers 4-1 in front of a crowd of only 600 at Celtic Park.

Before Celtic took on St Bernard’s in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, Celtic travelled to Ibrox to face Rangers in the first competitive meeting between the two sides. Willie only conceded once, as 4,000 spectators witnessed Celtic hammer their future rivals 6-1.

When Celtic did meet St Bernard’s, it was a fairly easy outing, as they ran out 4-1 winners in front of almost 6,000 people at the Powderhall Grounds, Edinburgh. In the fifth round, Celtic lost 0-1 to Clyde at Celtic Park (although it was John Tobin in goals that day) before the Scottish Football Association declared the result of the match void and ordered a replay. This was due to the match kicking off late and ending in darkness as the visitors arrived in illegal footwear and took a long time to change to more suitable boots.

The second time the sides met, a fortnight after the first match, Celtic won 9-2 with Willie back between the sticks once again. Having been recently knocked out of the Glasgow Cup by Queen’s Park (0-2), the Scottish Cup was the only significant competition the Celts remained in, and their first Scottish Cup run would continue, as they defeated East Stirlingshire 2-1 in mid-December.

Celtic would go onto beat Dumbarton 4-1 in the semi-finals, before losing to Third Lanark 2-1 in the Scottish Cup Final (this was the second final between the teams in only a week; however, due to heavy snow, both teams agreed prior to the first match that it would only be a friendly – regardless, Third Lanark won 3-0). However, John Kelly was the Celtic goalkeeper for all of these matches, as William Dunning departed for Glasgow Hibernians just after New Year. He only played twice more for Celtic after the Scottish Cup win over East Stirlingshire, as Celtic defeated Vale of Leven in a friendly (1-2) and Clydesdale in the North Eastern Cup (1-5).

He would later join Aston Villa in England, and was part of their 1893-94 league winning side. At his peak, he was considered to be one of the best goalkeepers in the game.

William Dunning died at only the age of thirty seven, in 1902, as he succumbed to tuberculosis in a Southampton hospital.

 

Sep 242012
 

William Crilley, affectionally known as “wee Willie Crilley”, “Electric Spark” and also “The Mighty Atom” (a nickname more famously associated with the one and only Patsy Gallagher) was born in Cowcaddens, Glasgow, in 1903. He joined Celtic in May, 1922, having been the star man of the Alloa Athletic side which won promotion to the First Division that season. Willie holds the record for the highest number of goals ever scored by an Alloa player in a single season, with forty nine to his name in the 1921-22 season. The Wasps’ own official website described Willie as “without doubt, Alloa Athletic’s greatest player”.

Standing at only five feet three inches tall, and weighing a little over nine stone, Willie was fairly small in stature, even for a forward. However, what he lacked in size, he made up for with ability, determination and imagination on the field of play. One famous story from his time with Alloa describes how he knocked the ball past a tall and slow central defender (of then Division Two side King’s Park) before diving through the defenders legs, catching up with the ball, and slotting it past the oncoming goalkeeper much to the delight of the onlooking Alloa supporters.

Willie signed for the Hoops at the peak of his powers, having had a magnificent season previously and it was hoped that he would soon find a regular place in the first team. Crilley missed the first game of the new season (1922-23) as First Division Champions Celtic travelled to the home of the Second Division Champions, and Willie’s former team, Alloa Athletic. Before the match began, Celtic manager Willie Maley had the distinction of unfurling Alloa’s Championship flag for all to see. Celtic won the close match by three goals to two, although by all accounts they had to dig very deep against a determined and resilient Alloa side.

The following week, Willie made his debut for Celtic as the Hoops defeated Hamilton Accies 2-1 at Celtic Park. However, after a relatively poor start to the season, Crilley was allowed to return to Alloa Athletic less than a month later. In total, he featured three times for Celtic’s first team, scoring only a single goal. Sadly, soon after his return to the Wasps, Willie was injured and this would rule him out for a significant proportion of the season. He played his last match for Alloa in April 1923, as they drew 1-1 in their final game of the season.

As Alloa were relegated, having finished twentieth in the twenty team First Division, Willie left for a new life in the United States of America, where he joined the New York Field Club, before moving to the New York Giants. He then returned to Alloa in 1924, before being sold without him appearing for team on a single occasion. Crilley then had relatively successful spells with Indiana Flooring, the New York Giants (again), and J&P Coats back in the United States.

In 1927, Crilley’s career took a turn for the worse as he began to move from club to club, featuring only a couple of times at most, before being moved on. Between 1927 and 1929, Willie would play for Philadelphia Field Club, New York Nationals, Brooklyn Hispano, New York Hungaria and IRT Rangers. In 1929, Willie returned to Scotland with the intention of rejoining Alloa. However, as he was now a United States citizen, he was deported back to America before he was able to play for the club again.

Short spells with Newark Americans, New York Soccer Club and Fall River followed, before Willie joined the Brooklyn Wanderers in 1931. This was to be where he would rediscover some of his old form, as he scored fourteen goals in only seven matches for the New York based club. During this time, he played against Celtic who were on a tour of the United States, although the Hoops were comfortable victors winning by five goals to nil. Finally, Willie would move to the New York Americans, where he would score nine goals in ten matches. In one last attempt to rejoin his beloved Alloa, he returned to Scotland and contacted the club once more in 1932, but the board were not interested, and this rejection resulted in Willie Crilley retiring from the sport.

In 1942, Willie joined the United States armed forces, before going on to serve in the Air Corps with the Fifteen Air Force later in World War Two. Willie Crilley died at the Fort Hamilton Veterans Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, in 1955 after a prolonged battle with illness. He was only fifty one or fifty two years of age.

 

Sep 172012
 

Celtic Supporters Make Their Voices Heard

 

“…The best that Celtic stands for is supporting the charitable principles of its founder. The best that Celtic stands for is promoting health and well-being, understanding and positive social integration. The best that Celtic stands for is as an inclusive organisation being open to all regardless of age, sex, race, religion or disability…”

These are the words that can be found on the official social charter of Celtic Football Club (available here).

Late last week (Thursday lunchtime), as many of you will know, I opened up a survey regarding the catering available to average fans at Celtic Park on match days. My personal aim was that at least a thousand people would reply within a week or so, before I published the results online, and sent them to Peter Lawwell (Chief Executive of Celtic Football Club) along with comments left by members of the support, and an accompanying letter from myself.

However, within 48 hours of opening the survey, I had been inundated with almost 1500 replies. Of course, the internet is a fantastic tool with regards to reaching significant numbers of people quickly, but I must say I was surprised at the uptake within the fan base. Anyway, having exceeded the target number of responses in less than a day, I closed the initial survey at 5.30pm, on Saturday.

 

Results

 

In my opinion, the results of our survey, published here for the first time, are fairly damning in many areas. I will quickly run through these results, whilst discussing the responses given to each question briefly, before summing up in more detail at the end of this article.

As you can see above, almost three quarters of the individuals who responded to our survey are current season ticket holders at Celtic Park. These people attend matches at Celtic Park many times every season, and will always sit in the same area, meaning they are able to build up an average view of the services available to them within the section of the stadium they visit.

When we questioned how people felt regarding catering on a whole at Celtic Park, more than 70% of respondents said they thought it was either unsatisfactory, or very unsatisfactory, with 27.5% stating they felt the standard was acceptable. Only 27 people, from approximately 1600 asked, told us they were very satisfied with the catering on offer. Comparing the two extremes, those in the very unsatisfactory camp outnumber those with the opposite opinion by almost 14 to 1.

With regards to people’s thoughts on the quality of the food and drink available, we can see similar results to those found  above, with approximately 70% once again describing themselves as unsatisfied or very unsatisfied, while around 30% felt more positive about the situation.

We see similar results once again with question four, as approximately 65% of people describing the choices available as unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory. However, it should be noted there has been a slight increase in the numbers of those describing their view of the situation as very satisfactory or satisfactory, despite the fact these individuals are still in a significant minority.

Now, the subject of our questioning has moved onto pricing within the stadium.  As you can see, the Celtic supporters clearly feel this is a big issue. Almost half of those asked said they thought the catering was expensive, whilst almost another 45% said they thought it was very expensive. Only 120 people, or 7% of those asked, said they thought the pricing was fair. Not one person said they thought the catering was cheap, while one solitary person told us they thought it was very cheap. All in all, this is clearly an area where the paying public feel the Club can, and has to, improve.

Above, we can see a statistic that could, and should, interest those running the Football Club from a financial point of view. Over half of those asked said they would pay current prices, or potentially even a little more, if the quality and choices of the food on offer was to increase significantly. Another 16% said they were unsure, with 30% saying they simply would not pay more. This is an interesting statistic, when coupled with the results thrown up by the previous question. The vast majority of the support feel the current prices are too high for the product available. Either a decrease in price for a product similar to what is currently on offer, or a dramatic increase in the quality of the product is required, although a combination of the two would be the best option.

Next, let me draw your attention to the subject of the staff members at Celtic Park. The result of this question may surprise some of you, as I often hear people bemoan the actions of counter staff and their supervisors inside the ground. However, according to this poll, almost two thirds of those asked stated they were either satisfied or very satisfied with those catering staff employed on match days. However, the fact there is a wide spectrum of opinions perhaps points to two factors, one being people’s differing expectations of service, and two being the different staff they come across on match days. For example, if people are served well by a member of staff, they’ll probably soon forget about it within hours if not sooner. However, if they are served badly, this will undoubtedly stick in their mind and they are more likely to mention it to friends and family etc. I’ll discuss the staffing, and my views regarding it, in a little more detail later on in this article.

When asked whether or not they felt they often have to wait longer than they should need to in queues at Celtic Park, over 75% of respondents answered yes. These delays and long queues are likely a result of a variety of factors, which will be dissected in more detail later. However, this is undoubtedly another area the Club should aim to improve upon.

The results shown on the table above are fairly clear to see. The majority of people wait an average of between 5-15 minutes to purchase food and drink inside Celtic Park, with similar numbers waiting 2-5 minutes and 15-20 minutes. Interestingly, an almost identical amount of people said they waited under 2 minutes or over 20 minutes.

Comparing this table with the one above, we can see a noticeable difference between the waiting times people report and the waiting times people feel would be acceptable. Whilst 806 (48.5%) people report they currently wait 10 minutes or more for service inside Celtic Park, only 53 (3.2%) believe that anything in excess of 10 minutes is a realistically acceptable waiting time. The vast majority (56.5%) of those polled believe 2-5 minutes is the ideal and realistic waiting time, and while 292 (17.6%) currently say they wait less than 5 minutes.

This is always a disappointing event; you wait in a queue only to reach the front and discover that your desired purchase is out of stock. Of course, this isn’t totally avoidable. If, for example, one day everyone decides they want one particular product, it will almost inevitably run out. However, as with many things in life, people often buy the same thing every time they visit Celtic Park, be it a scotch pie, a hot dog, or anything else. This means that, with a bit of pre-planning, items really shouldn’t run out as often as they seem to, especially when fairly consistent demand is there. Of course, the times on match days at which people go to the stalls will also affect the likelihood of products being sold out when they reach the counter (i.e. pre-match, half time etc). Items running out once or twice a season is acceptable in my mind, but for almost half (46%) of individuals polled to be saying it happens regularly, there is clearly an issue which needs addressed.

In many senses, this question harks back to the earlier ones regarding waiting times. We all know the feeling of waiting in a queue when you know kick off is approaching, or even worse, when you can hear the music signalling the entrance of the teams. Depending on the match in question, this can be very frustrating. For example, I’m fairly sure no one would happily miss the Champions League theme tune this season because they were waiting to buy a pie. Again, the likelihood of you being caught in such a situation is dependent on your time of arrival at the ground to a degree, but we must remember that not everyone can get to stadium half an hour or an hour before kick off, even if they wanted to. With 50% saying they miss some of the match because they are waiting in line, and another 37% saying they simply give up and head for their seats, this is something that needs to change. Not only are customers unhappy with this, potential revenue is being lost on a regular basis.

These results, coupled with those of the next question, are some of the most telling this survey has produced. Here, we see that only 39% of people ever eat inside Celtic Park. Respondents were able to select more than one option, and this is why the total number of responses appears to be significantly higher than those of the other questions in the survey. Approximately a third of people eat directly outside the ground, from food vans or local fast food outlets. There are a variety of reasons for this, although the people I have spoken to have highlighted price, product quality, and lesser waiting times as the main causes. Once again, this shows that more money could be made by the Club, if only they could attract more supporters to eat within the stadium itself.

These results show that only 23% of supporters polled currently eat inside the ground regularly. In truth, I would imagine the real percentage will be somewhat higher, as many people attend Celtic Park who do not have access to the internet and thus have not had access to this survey. However, I doubt it would be any higher than the 40% (approximately speaking) mentioned in the previous question. The important statistic here is that of the remaining 77% of individuals surveyed, 97.4% of them said they would be more likely to eat inside the ground if the product and service provided were significantly improved. Only 2% said this would not make them more likely to eat inside the ground. Surely this is a massive incentive for the Football Club?

The final questioned posed by our survey was, as you can see, a simple yes or no answer. While some were sceptical (less than 2%) that the results should be sent to the Football Club, an overwhelming 98% of you believed that Celtic Football Club should strive to improve it’s current standards, and that it was worth making the thoughts of the fans known to them by sending Mr Lawwell a copy of our results. Without doubt, the Celtic support would like to see efforts made to improve the service available to them on match days at Celtic Park.

N.B. Please note that all of the percentages shown in the diagrams above have been rounded to the nearest individual percent.

 

Aims and Ideas

 

 

- Clean, cold tap water should be made available, for free, to any member of the support who desires it, anywhere in the ground. This does not mean they should have to pay for a cup, or wait in the normal food counter queues for the privilege, as this would only slow the already inflated queues. Several people have said to me they would happily take a bottle of water in with them if they were allowed to do so. However, as containers such as bottles are prohibited within Celtic Park, this is not an option. If this idea is impossible, then bottled water much cheaper than what is currently available should be introduced.

- Additional small stalls, similar to those manned by programme sellers outside, should be introduced within the existing concourses in order to take some of the strain away from the main food counters. Sweets, crisps, water, and fruit juice should be available at these smaller stalls. In future, this should be extended to include items such as fresh, sealed sandwiches (once contracts allow).

- Hot, reasonably priced soup should be made available to the supporters in future winters. With ingredients which are generally cheap to purchase, I feel this would be seen as a welcome addition from the Celtic support, who regularly brave bitterly cold conditions to support their team. Also, when I say soup, I do not refer to something which comes in the form of a powder which water is added to; I mean “real” soup.

- “Traditional” football food, such as pies and Bovril, should not disappear from sale. However, the variety of foods available should be expanded and improved upon, offering healthier options, such as pastas and sandwiches. A wider array of these healthy options, particularly aimed at children, should also be made available.

- Options regarding franchising and/or allowing local businesses to rent and operate food counters should be considered. Not every food counter should necessarily be the same. Of course, in certain areas of the ground, there are more counters available to the support than others, but this should not prohibit this possibility. Potentially, there could be “default” counters offering traditional football food in all areas of the ground, with other counters offering more diverse options as well. Businesses renting space would hire their own staff, or bring current staff who normally work at other premises. This would improve both staff efficiency and familiarity, as well as customer choice, and the inevitable competitiveness between stalls could potentially lead to an overall increase in the standards of food and service available.

- Incidences of products “running out” should be minimised, with improved pre-planning from those in management roles. Examples such as stalls running out of pies before games as well attended as the Glasgow Derbies of old must not be repeated.

- A marginal increase in staff numbers may be an idea, but efforts to improve both efficiency and organisation are of the utmost importance. The quality of management from those in supervisory roles should also be improved upon. 

- Faster payment methods would shorten waiting times. Nowadays, the vast majority of us hold electronic season ticket cards, capable of collecting up points in Celtic stores and outlets, as well as allowing us access to the stadium without the need for turnstile operators. Why not copy the likes of Bayern Munich, and allow individuals to put money onto their cards which they could then scan when paying for food and drinks? This would save time and make the process almost instantaneous for many. Of course, cash would still be acceptable too.

 

Comments and Feedback

As well as inviting respondents to answer our survey questions, we also gave them the opportunity to leave individual comments, both on the quality of the catering at Celtic Park and on the survey itself. You can find all of these (with names removed, and some minor editing to remove abbreviations such as “u” and “r” etc) below. I should also highlight the fact that I have included all of the comments sent to us, regardless of whether or not I agree with them personally. There are a number of different views expressed below, and many of them contradict each other. However, as everyone is as entitled to their opinion, I have done all I can to publish these for others to read.

“At last a survey on what can only be described as pathetic catering at Celtic Park. Last season on more than one visit with my daughter after a 20 min wait we were told they didn’t have what we wanted left. On another visit again after a long wait they told us the unit we waited at didn’t sell what we wanted despite saying it did. Oh and don’t start me on the catering staff; not a brain cell between them. Rant over. Oh and good luck i won’t hold my breath, Hail Hail.”

Standard of food and quality at celtic park is poor and very over priced. I feel sorry for the counter staff due to poor mismanagement they will always get the abuse from fans due to products not being available. Spare a thought for them as they are on minimum wage, and me personally I wouldn’t do the job they do.

“To back up (withdrawn name)’s point above, the counter staff bare the brunt of the fans frustrations but it is poor management that means food is continually running out. The quality of food is poor and prices are expensive. Surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to increase the quality of product, at the prices charged, which may reduce profit on each sale but more people would be willing to spend their money if the food was better.”

“You don’t ask at what time do we purchase food. I only purchase food before the match as the queue at half time is too big. Although the quality is poor my 2 kids see it as part of the match day experience.”

“If it wasn’t for the kids, i wouldn’t bother at all with the food, but I feel compelled to get them something as, as you say, they also see it as part of the match. The quality, service and pricing really needs overhauling, drastically!!!!”

“It’s good doing this, I have been on both sides of the fence, worked there last year and got to see what was it like. Sometimes drinks were warm, food was ok and prices where a bit steep and I have been at games waiting while the 2nd half kicks off so I know its frustrating and I do feel for the workers. Also they do what they’re told so instead of moaning to them I would take it up with supervisors after the game when they show face. Trust me they’re always there at the kiosks making sure everybody is tiding up cause you can’t leave till money is counted etc. Plus the kiosks are sub-contracted out so if you send it to Peter Lawwell I would also send to the company at runs the kiosks. Hope this helps you in your quest.”

“To be fair to counter staff most of them are provided by an agency and are not given any training (my nephew worked for the agency for several months a couple of years ago). The quality of the food and drink is terrible and the prices are ridiculous.

“The organisation of the food service is deplorable with very little obvious supervision of poorly trained staff. Celtic could make a lot of money by having a slicker, more organised half time service of food and drinks. At 3.45pm everything should be at hand for the folk to serve without having to wander away to an oven for a pie. Very frustrating that year after year the only thing that changes are the prices!

“I have yet to understand why 5 minutes after the start of the second half, the kiosks are closed. Would it kill to leave them open until, say, 15 minutes before final whistle? Can’t understand it.”

“I only purchase tea, coffee or soft drinks before the match as we tend to be there early. Refuse point blank to pay the ridiculous prices asked for any of the food or confectionery products as they are way top heavy. The staff don’t always appear to be totally on the ball, however, as mentioned earlier, I believe this is more of a training and supervision problem. I’ve even seen a stand up fight between one member of staff and their supervisor a few years back; supervisor totally out of order. I’m sure a lot of folk would be just like me when they are used to arriving early they would certainly enjoy a nice snack or quick meal with a cuppa if it were only sold at a reasonable price.”

The cost is expensive and the quality not great… but i can accept that. There is a high frequency of items running out, but it saves waste, so i can accept that. What I can’t accept is that, because my seat isn’t slap bang next to an exit, and because I don’t irritate everyone in my row and those behind me by leaving before half time, when the half time whistle blows I am always last in the queue. ok, even that I can accept, but when I’m missing 5 minutes of the second half, every game, that I have paid handsomely for, to further spend money within the club, that is ridiculous. I  don’t know if they need better trained staff, better ergonomics/logistics, or simply more staff… but to wait nigh on 20 minutes for a cold burger is shocking in the 21st century. Even drinks dispensers for those who only want soft drinks or bovrils would help. Get Greggs in to do the catering… two wee women can serve twice the number of folk our entire catering staff manage in the same time… and I wouldn’t need a second mortgage if I skipped lunch. I’m in section 105 incidentally but I suspect my experiences are replicated elsewhere.”

“It is a shambles and with a ready made consumer base it is frightening to see how the club gets it so wrong – but maybe that’s the issue. The club is utterly complacent.”

“I always arrive about 60 minutes before the match and eat at the start – hate standing in the queue. My daughter sometimes goes down for things as the second half kicks off. Its over priced for what it is. I now settle for water as the juice is flat – similar to others – it has become part of the match day experience so we always do it. I am not shy in taking food back and telling them that its over cooked, hard or just rotten (to the distaste of my daughter) – I feel sorry for the staff and try and have a wee laugh with them as they are just doing a wee job.

“The vans (one in particular) regularly get in excess of £10 of my hard earned as the Celtic Park catering is downright awful. Unimaginative, unhealthy, overpriced dross. Maybe Mr Lawwell should pop down and join us to savour our match day “experience”. Better still get a focus group of supporters to inform the direction of future catering provision. I’d be up for it.”

“My main issue is firstly that you cannot bring water into the stadium. Because of this there should be access to free drinking water. Instead I have to pay £1.80 I think for a bottle of water. I’d be happy to bring in my own water and have that poured into a cup rather than pay for the over-priced water in the stadium.”

Pizza that looks like linoleum and probably doesn’t taste any better, overpriced stodge its a complete rip off. Nothing on sale of a healthy nature just typical west of Scotland coffin nail fodder, its a disgrace, half the staff don’t speak english and the overall standard is abysmal. Anyone who spends a penny at any of the in house stalls is being seriously ripped off and quite how Celtic can support football fans in training whilst offering up this nonsense as match day food is bewildering.”

“The food quality at the kiosks is poor and the prices are ridiculous. I offer my thanks to the staff at the “sharp end” however as they are, by and large, kids trying their best.

“The days of pies and burgers have gone. Decent fare with healthy options would be welcome. Staff of a poor standard and no organisation. Club must be missing out on a significant possible stream of revenue.

“I don’t often eat inside Celtic Park because of the poor choice on offer. Hot drinks are awful. There is a good coffee van near the Super Store with reasonably priced “good” coffee. Wouldn’t think of myself as a “prawn sandwich ” type supporter but would rather have a sandwich than pies and burgers currently on offer. Good food at recently opened Tesco.”

I would eat every week inside Celtic Park. if prices were more competitive. For instance I can buy a pie outside the ground for 60p but its £2.20 inside. That’s robbery in anyone’s language.”

“Certainly one of the few down points about Celtic park is the poor quality and choice of food on offer. Last year I went to an American football match in Florida, the food was brought to you so you didn’t have to leave your seat unless you had to go to the loo. The food looked and tasted great and choice you had on offer surpassed any football ground I’ve ever been too. And you could buy beer!”

The quality, choice, healthiness and price of the food at Celtic Park is appalling. Celtic should be in the vanguards of assisting with heath initiatives and raising quality in the east end of the largest city in the unhealthiest developed nation on earth. Remember the club was founded on providing basic nourishing food to the starving! Well done for taking this on.”

“Never had the opportunity to eat at Celtic park as I’d normally be hungry at half time and have to leave the queue to make sure I don’t miss any of the football. Incompetent staff and structure.”

“To be honest, the service is not brilliant, but then every time I use the facilities at other grounds (particularly abroad) I praise Celtic for being miles better than most. I tend to go to buy a drink just before start of game (usually missing first 5 minutes or so of first half), and then go near start of second half (miss another 5 minutes or so), though my preferred choice might be gone. But I would never have the patience to wait all the way through half time.”

“Don’t like saying it but the catering and staff at Celtic Park has me moaning like a drain every home game – to those in the queue and to the staff – under staffing seams to be a management strategy. The staff always say they are short staffed and look like they can’t give a s*** either way. One counter will always have 2 folk serving and the other only 1, and if you choose the wrong one you’re shafted for a good 5-10 mins or more. The extra person doesn’t think to swap betrween the two – or should I say the catering manager/supervisor is equally disinterested in noticing and managing the situation. Last season was an example of utter contempt for the “customer”. I ended up standing in the queue for a pie for 10-15 mins and when you get there they ran out entirely ages ago – basic communication or customer care is anathema – just not on the radar. Shoddy, contemptible and and very low grade.”

“Lawwell doesn’t care about the standard of food on the terraces or he would have done something about it long ago. He could have had the caterers under “The Trades Description Act” for calling it food.

“The worst thing for me is the speed of the queues. Surely it isn’t unacceptable to expect to be able to get something to eat and drink in the 15 minutes between the 2 halves?

“Shockingly bad food concessions inside CP. Primarily what they have is poorly prepared. The choice is terrible and that doesn’t really matter as what you choose is 9/10 times not what you get. You get what’s left. I’m surprised the poll doesn’t address opinion on cleanliness. The concessions always look filthy after about 10 minutes!

“Food is horrible, cheap and very, very expensive. The time it takes to get food is a joke 15/20mins at times. I’d rather they didn’t sell food and had vending machines than selling the “food” they do.

“The food is brutal the only way to describe it and the choices are fairly limited. I always try to have eaten before I get to stadium. I would settle for a nice sandwich and a cup of tea anything that not greasy.

To be honest I use it as my 6 year old son who has his first season ticket thinks the chips and a capri sun are part of his match day experience. I have to leave during the game so I’m not standing in a massive queue. The prices are awful and my biggest complaint really. I’ve tried taking him a packed lunch but it’s just not the done thing at football and he ‘wants’ Celtic chips. The food itself is average but grossly overpriced and £2.50 for flat coke ??”

“Lazy and very short sighted catering for such a faithful support, we deserve much better. Overpriced stodgy fodder, get it sorted!

“Last season a hot dog and coke was 5 pounds . This season they have added a packet of crisps and called it a meal deal charging 7 pounds for it, and twice they haven’t had coke. It’s just not on, we will bring our own from now on.”

“Celtic PLC employ very young staff, at their “food” outlets inside Celtic Park, dont know if they pay them the National minimum wages on match days, or what the training is like for staff. Are the staff told about joining a Trade Union? Made aware of Health & Safety? I personally would not eat or drink anything from these “food” outlets…quality of the food is very poor & far too expensive for working class Celtic fans . I don’t think Peter Lawwell and his Celtic PLC board members are eating this s**** before & after games, and drinking over priced flat Coca Cola & the p*** served up as tea & coffee.”

“A simple solution to the counter staff problem is more counter staff. They are run off their feet selling poor quality, overpriced food. I now eat before I reach ground as does everyone I know. Thank you for your efforts. Hail Hail.”

“(name removed) – look up the law of diminishing returns. More counter staff would solve nothing.”

Put it this way I avoid eating from the catering booths/counters at Parkhead. Would rather wait till afterwards on way home. I’ve sometimes eaten prior arriving to the games.”

“The prices are terrible at parkhead.”

“I would like a McDonalds franchise at CP. The idea of a Big Mac at half time really appeals. Choice would be limited of course due to logistics but I believe you could utilise the current space available. Thanks for your consideration.”

“Coke is somewhat flat and can be warmish or not cold enough. Prices are a tad expensive. Steak pies are not too bad but can be a bit dried up. Staff can be very slow and not too efficient. I’d give it 6 out of 10″

“Food outlets are shocking at Celtic Park. I will not pay for burnt stodgy food. Improve Celtic or lose much business. Prices are terrible too. Would sell much more produce if it was better quality and cheaper.

The food at Celtic Park is seriously over priced and rotten, it really needs a new approach and quick!!! 0/10″

“Catering a Parkhead is a joke, when you go for pies they are either not ready or have run out! No invention or ideas, bland, overpriced and crap….try something new!!”

The catering at the food outlets at Celtic Park are diabolical, overpriced, unhealthy with little options. I usually bring food from Greggs or from home. Get rid of McDonalds…overpriced junk food and let small caterers in to create some competition with healthier alternatives.”

“I would like a Mcdonalds/KFC at CP. The quality of the food it’s self is not too bad but could be doing with more variety and there should be a big review on the prices. I could deliver my home made individual steak pies to CP they are great. Maybe a choice of some healthy food as well tubs of pasta or sandwiches etc.

“Also do a great variety of homemade pasta and different kinds of rolls and sandwiches more options on drinks too they are terrible. Also not enough places to sit your drink down while you eat should maybe consider more round the wall shelving too.

“Yeah take the prices down need a bank loan to get food from here.”

“Why don’t they sell the humble square slice in a roll?”

“Go to clubs in Germany to see how catering for 60,000 works and the club will earn more money and the fans will be happier with a varied and more healthy menu. Fast food does not need to be unhealthy or expensive but the food at Celtic Park is both and I will never touch it. Change it by having experts do it. Instead of having just sponsored burger vans outside why don’t the club franchise out space to a soup vans, one that sells felafel & giros, Polish food, Spanish or something from anywhere in the world that is both healthy and provides a bit of variety. Even providing fruit would be nice.”

“Bitten into a mince pie and fat as hot as candle wax scolded me.”

“How about offering a few places in the stadium to Subway or Greggs or another company of that type. They keep the food profits and the club gets the rent money. Trained staff, prices that are comparable to the high street and better quality than the tripe served at games.”

Franchises allowed to trade, basic level of customer service training given to staff.”

“The queuing time is absolutely outrageous, rarely takes less than twenty minutes to queue at half time. Catering staff are also useless, not enough of them and they are unable to cope. Food is also overpriced and sub-standard.”

“Get more staff and operating tills.”

“The pizza is overpriced farmfoods garbage.”

“Get McDonald’s in.”

“On entry to the stadium, immediately after the turnstiles open there are never any hot dogs ready. Always say it takes 15-20 minutes.”

“Prices could be cut a wee bit and food could be ready as soon as the supporters enter the ground.”

I don’t eat at Celtic Park unless I really, really, really have to. The food is just terrible, but let’s face it- it’s there to make a high profit margin and to fill the belly, not provide a gastromic thrill. To single out the cashiers for criticism is ridiculous. When I was unemployed a couple of years ago I had a meeting at the agency that provides the catering staff- I was very nearly a supervisor. It’s minimum wage stuff, and nobody’s there to carve out a career in pie-serving. Leave the kids alone!

“Allowing franchises would potentially get people into the stadium earlier and this could result in them spending more.

“The food is rotten and the toilets are full off empty beer bottles and very smokey, won’t take my young son to parkhead again!!!”

“Wait too long in queues for poor quality, often burnt food which is overpriced.”

“Reduce cost, increase staffing and improve quality. This will actually increase profit due to increase in sales.”

“Cheaper prices on the meal deals which have gone up quite a bit. Some healthier options, better trained staff and less watered down soft drinks.

“Burnt pizzas, chips hit or miss, coffee quite often lukewarm. Some of the assistants can barely count and struggle with orders.”

“How come I can buy a rollover hot dog from my local shop for £1.69 and it’s treble the price at Parkhead?”

“For the past 2 seasons my son and i have been drinking flat cola every week and it’s not fair because they still charge full price.”

“I would be happy with the junk food if it was fairly priced but it’s a complete rip off.”

“Serve beer.”

“Lower the prices.”

“The fact that can now only buy one size of overpriced juice which just happens to be large has me blazing and I have now explained to my son that if he waits till end of game I will take him to mcdonalds on way home and save myself some money.

“Reduce the prices, they are a disgrace.”

 

Analysis and Conclusions

 

I have spent several days reiterating the following point, and I shall do so once more, for the record. I have not publicised my personal views with regards to the catering at Celtic Park until now, as I did not want to risk being seen as influencing the outcome of the survey. However, now that the survey is closed, I feel I can do this without any risk attached.

Firstly, I should state unequivocally that I believe the quality of the catering on offer on match days inside Celtic Park is, at best, poor. The products are, generally, severely lacking in quality, and the respective prices being asked for them are high. The clear lack of any healthy options, from a Club which prides itself on promoting the message of good health, fitness and exercise to it’s supporters, is also an important issue which I feel must be addressed.

Many of  the staff, who are predominantly young men and women looking to earn a bit of extra money, appear poorly trained, and even more poorly organised. Of course, as some of you will no doubt point out, it is debatable how much training a few hours work every fortnight or so should warrant, and I accept this. In truth, I am not criticising the staff behind the counters themselves, as I feel the majority of them do their best. However, the organisation and management skills of those assigned to supervise the efficient running of the food counters appears to be an area in which significant improvements are long overdue.

Fundamentally, my belief is this; simply because the majority of food available within football grounds in Scotland is, and has always been, terrible, it does not mean that it should always be terrible.

I do not claim to have all the answers. I am simply a fan like the rest of you reading this. However, I adamantly believe that a few simple changes, coupled with increased levels of consultation between the Football Club and it’s supporters, could lead to an almost immediate improvement in the quality and efficiency of the service available at Celtic Park.

In terms of significant improvements in the longer term (regarding the products themselves), I would expect current contracts to be an issue, as they must be upheld. However, this does not mean that the Club should not take the time to consider all of it’s options for the future (with regards to the time these contracts expire), and it does not mean that the Club should readily disregard the opinion of the fans, who are, at least in terms of catering, paying customers.

In summary, I wholeheartedly believe that everyone involved could benefit from improvements in catering; the fans, the staff, and the Club. Firstly, with a better quality of service and product, the match day experience would undoubtedly improve, and this would lead to a happier fan base visiting Celtic Park. Secondly, with a more structured and well organised work environment, not to mention more content supporters, the staff working on match days would see an improvement too. Thirdly, with happier supporters,  a better quality of service and product on offer, increased efficiency and sensible pricing, the Club could undoubtedly exploit an improved revenue stream and benefit financially in the future.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all again for taking the time to respond to this survey, and to digest it’s results. Discussions and consultations are the way forward, not blaming individuals are arguments amongst friends. When I receive word back from the Football Club, I will of course notify you all. Until then, if anyone would like to leave further comments, please feel free to do so.

Thank you.

Sep 132012
 
Follow the link below, and have your say!

Ladies and gentlemen, if I could ask two things of you today, I would ask that you take a couple of minutes to fill in the following survey and that, if you do fill it in, you do so honestly. Once I have collated the results, I will send them to Peter Lawwell (Chief Executive) at the Football Club. For the sake of fairness I will not disclose my personal views on the quality of the catering here, as it could affect the results of the survey. However, I will do so in full once it is over.

I am hoping to have at least 1,000 people complete this form, as I feel this will a significant quantity of opinion for the Club to take on board, so once you have completed it, feel free to post the link to your friends or retweet it.

You can take our survey, and have your opinions heard, here:

http://maleysbhoys.com/home/site-map/survey/

Sep 122012
 

William Patrick Maley (25th April 1868 – 2nd April 1958)

Earlier today, I visited the grave of Willie Maley; member of the first Celtic team, the first manager of the Club (1897-1940) and the man whom this online community is named after. Located in Cathcart Cemetery, Clarkston, on the edges of the city of Glasgow, it is not a particularly easy grave to find if you have not visited it before. In fact, it was only on my second trip to the large cemetery (which is badly overgrown in places) that I happened to find it.

In May 2010, Willie’s grave looked like this (left hand side):

As you can see, the headstone was badly damaged, with a large section of it lying down. Whilst the names of Willie’s mother and father were commemorated on the stone, there was no mention of Willie himself, and the site was in a sorry state. However, thanks to the determination of several members of the Celtic support, and the phenomenal Celtic Graves Society, the headstone was restored, with Willie’s name finally being added to it. In March 2011, his grave looked like this (an incredible improvement):

And so, this afternoon, I finally found Willie’s grave in Cathcart Cemetery. Sadly, mother nature had began to take hold in  the area around the grave as you can see below, with several weeds and even a few large branches (out of shot) covering the ground.

The headstone, whilst still in lovely condition, was covered with what appeared to be algae (not a surprise considering it is a wooded area). I must confess I was unprepared for this eventuality, and could only clear the area of weeds and trees as best I could today, as you can see in the second picture above. However, I plan to return to the site in the next week or so and attempt to give the headstone itself a bit of a clean.

In truth, there are three reasons I have written this short article. Firstly, of course, this was to highlight the condition that the grave is in today. Secondly, it was to highlight the truly fantastic work carried out by the Celtic Graves Society, without whom, this grave would most likely still be in the truly awful condition it was only a couple of years ago. While the photographs I took today may look less than ideal, when you see the sad state of the graves surrounding that of Willie and his family, you realise that the restoration work of the headstone has made a huge difference.

Thirdly, I have written this so that anyone who does wish to visit Willie Maley’s grave in Cathcart Cemetery can do so. I would be more than happy to provide any Celtic supporters with a guide to the location of the grave on request, and I would also consider guiding people to the site myself should they wish me to do so.

Finally, as I mentioned on Twitter earlier, in the Spring of 2013, I plan to attempt to raise a little bit of money so that we can place a wreath, on behalf of the Celtic support and Maley’s Bhoys, on the grave in April, on the anniversary of Willie’s death in 1958.

Sep 102012
 

“Good evening, and welcome to my comedy roadshow!”

“Lads, how many times do I need to tell you? No hard questions!”

Okay, those are the words generally uttered by none other than Michael McIntyre, but today “The Rangers” Chief Executive Charles Green has been doing his own stand up routine, along with special guests Duff & Phelps. In the last few hours, RFC 2012 and Charles Green have announced that they will not attend, nor cooperate with, the upcoming Scottish Premier League investigation into the use of employee benefit trusts (EBT’s) and dual contracts at Ibrox in the past.

Mr Green stated:

“The Club cannot continue to participate in an SPL process that we believe is fundamentally misconceived.  Neither the SPL, nor it’s Commission, has any legal power or authority over the Club because it is not in the SPL. For that reason it has no legal basis on which to appoint its Commission. The Club ceased to be subject to the SPL’s rules when it was ejected from its league.”

He then goes on to say:

“At all times we were fully transparent in our dealings with the football authorities, be they the SFA, SPL or the SFL. There was no ambiguity whatsoever regarding the status of the company when it made an application to join the SPL. As we all know, 10 SPL clubs decided against the admission of the new company to the league and The Rangers Football Club Limited subsequently applied to the SFL for membership and we are grateful for their acceptance.”

“In short, what was decided by the SPL membership is that Rangers was finished as a member of the SPL. Despite this, the SPL now see the new owners of the company, and the new company itself, which owns all the assets of Rangers FC – including SPL championship titles – as fair game for punishment for matters that have nothing to do with us at all.”

So, from reading that, you will notice that Mr Green has highlighted a few things. Firstly, he believes that “The Rangers” were ejected from the Scottish Premier League. Now, that’s just not true. “The Rangers” have never been anything other than a Third Division club.

Secondly, he believes that the Scottish Premier League has no right to investigate potential wrongdoings of the past, as they relate to “matters which have nothing to do with us at all.” Now, in a sense, he would be correct if the new club regarded themselves as just that, a new club, which, by all legal and footballing accounts, they are. No new club should be punished for the sins of the old club, providing they do not claim to be a continuation of the previous entity.

However, as Charles goes on, he approaches, and then finally reaches, the big punchline of his act, where we see the flaw in his logic:

“To make it crystal clear, the new owners purchased all the business and assets of Rangers, including titles and trophies. Any attempt to undermine or diminish the value of those assets will be met with the stiffest resistance, including legal recourse.”

“Rangers was not the only club in Scotland to use EBTs yet nothing was done and little has been heard about it. Also, Rangers stands accused of achieving sporting advantage unfairly – yet there is little debate over the fact in all the years EBTs were in existence at Ibrox, the Club often failed to win either the league title, or the main cup competitions. Furthermore, the period concerned saw a significant downsizing of the playing squad both in money spent on transfers and players wages. The decision we have taken has not been taken lightly. There are powerful representatives from Clubs within the SPL – not all of them by any means – who appear hell bent on inflicting as much damage on Rangers as possible.”

“As far as I am concerned, Rangers Football Club has won a world record 54 league titles, and, whatever the decision of the SPL Commission, these titles cannot and will not be taken away from us and our Manager Ally McCoist is in total agreement.”

Now, where should I start? That’s actually a rather tricky question, as Mr Green has succinctly managed to squeeze a vast amount of contradictory evidence, as well as some plain old arrant nonsense, into a fairly short statement. Firstly, no new owners of a new Football Club can purchase the history of an old one. At one stage this summer, RFC 2012 were already occupying a place in the fourth tier of Scottish Football, whilst the original and old RFC 1872 still held it’s share in the Scottish Premier League. This highlights the fact that RFC 1872, and RFC 2012, are two entirely different football clubs. Whilst RFC 2012 took their place in the Third Division, RFC 1872 still held it’s Scottish Premier League member share and it’s history. If Mr Green wishes to take legal action against me or anyone else for stating that fact he is free to do so, because I believe he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in a court of law.

Administrators Duff & Phelps have, on several occasions, referred to the fact they were appointed to administrate “Company” and the “Club” (i.e. the same entity). You can see an example of this below. However, it once again highlights, in no uncertain terms, that Rangers Football Club (1872) is, in all of it’s forms, the entity which will enter liquidation officially when BDO finally step in. This means that the Rangers of old do still technically exist, despite what many people have said, although as a Football Club they are all but dead, as they will never play another match.

At one stage in his act above, Mr Green states: “Also, Rangers stands accused of achieving sporting advantage unfairly – yet there is little debate over the fact in all the years EBTs were in existence at Ibrox, the Club often failed to win either the league title, or the main cup competitions.”

Now, is the Yorkshireman seriously expecting the supporters of Scottish Football to forgive the old Rangers for their sins because, despite years of intentional cheating (through financial doping which badly damaged the game in this country as a whole) they weren’t always good enough to win, even with their unfair advantage? Sorry, but in my mind that nothing other than sheer lunacy. That’s like someone winning silver in the Olympic games after taking performance enhancing drugs and then stating, “you can’t punish me for cheating as I didn’t win gold” when they get caught. It simply beggars belief.

Finally, Mr Green states above: “As far as I am concerned, Rangers Football Club has won a world record 54 league titles, and, whatever the decision of the SPL Commission, these titles cannot and will not be taken away from us and our Manager Ally McCoist is in total agreement.”

Now, Rangers did win fifty four league titles. This number will never increase, as the Club will never play another match, but it may well decrease. Mr Green seems to believe that, despite the fact the old Club knowingly cheated in Scottish Premier League matches (therefore under the jurisdiction of the SPL), the SPL somehow cannot rewrite it’s own history books, and right the wrongs of the past. Perhaps we will genuinely arrive at a situation where, according to the official governing bodies and all other Football Clubs, the old Rangers won x number of titles (“x” of course being a number less than fifty four), whilst the new Rangers, continue to claim they won fifty four.

Make no mistake about it, Charles Green is pandering to the extreme elements of the new club’s support, as he knows that is where the majority of the power in the fan base lies. Too often have the few sensible individuals within the Ibrox crowd been drowned out by the moronic element.

So, all in all, Charles Green has made himself out to be, well, contradictory to say the least.

As for the special guest at tonight’s roadshow, Duff & Phelps also released a statement tonight. Albeit shorter in length, it still contains something worthy of note. Firstly, they tow the propaganda line being spooled out by Green, stating:

“I can confirm that the business and certain assets of RFC 2012 PLC – including the honours won by the Club – were acquired by Mr Charles Green’s consortium as part of the sale and purchase agreement.”

This is, of course, wholly inaccurate as you simply cannot buy and transfer the history of a Football Club, especially not one that still technically exists whilst you have another one in operation. Otherwise, Aberdeen, Celtic, Dundee United, Hearts, Hibs, or any other club should have, theoretically, been able to bid to buy the old club’s history. This is, of course, preposterous, but since Duff & Phelps were supposed to be open to all offers which could have helped regain some of the creditor’s money, it’s an interesting point to note. However, I have already discussed a similar statement made by Charles Green, so I shall move onto our finale. Paul Clark, of Duff & Phelps, then goes on to say:

“Our primary role as Administrators was to rescue the business…”

Wow. Now there’s a quote which will make the hundreds of creditors the old Rangers left virtually penniless feel much better…and yet people are still wondering why a court enquiry has been ordered to look into the manner in which Duff & Phelps have went about their business?

Fundamentally, the role of any administrators is to recover as much of the money owed to creditors by a business as possible. It is not to ensure the survival of a business. Let’s not forget that the Rangers of old, ignoring their sins on the field for a moment, were guilty of incredible wrongdoing off of it.

In total, they owed around £134 million to various creditors, including Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (and therefore the British taxpayer), as well as the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Scottish Police Force. Not only that, they used much of the money from a supposed charity match against AC Milan’s legends to help fund the stricken club.

All in all, this statement from Duff & Phelps is a critical one. Perhaps liquidators BDO will see things slightly differently? All while one man remains very quiet. Things may be about to get very interesting indeed. Tick, tock, tick, tock…

 

Sep 082012
 
Guest Blogger Kieran Devlin (@DevlinKieran) Evaluates Celtic’s Aims for this Season and their Hopes for the Future

On the 29th August, Celtic celebrated their return to the Champions’ League group stages with a convincing 2-0 victory against Swedish champions Helsinborgs, to the tune of nearly 60,000 slightly intoxicated green-and-white clad supporters cheering, singing and dancing their tone-deaf hearts out. It was a proud moment to be a Celtic fan; our team was back where they belong, once again amongst the highest echelons of competitive European football. We were quite literally doing The Huddle in the Champions’ League.

Three days later, Celtic drew two each with Hibs at home. This result was due to many contributing factors; it was an under-strength, and notably youth-focused, Celtic side due to multiple injuries and key players being rested; we were very unlucky with a number of chances; we suffered from poor finishing in others, and even weaker defending; perhaps most vitally, it was a confident, organised and professional performance from a highly criticised Hibs team (that 5-1 Scottish Cup Final defeat to Hearts will probably be a Maroon-coloured dagger in the hearts, if you pardon the pun, of Hibs fans for decades) beginning to finally make an impact in the SPL, with exciting talents being showcased in the likes of Leigh Griffiths and Paul Cairney.

These factors were deemed irrelevant by some members of our support that fateful Saturday, and, come the full-time whistle, there were boos echoing around Celtic Park. Boos? Directed towards a team which had just battled Celtic into the Champions’ League group stages for the first time in four years three days previous? This was not such a proud moment to be a Celtic fan.

This, Sevconian in nature, self-involved arrogance severely annoys me. This expectancy that Celtic will pummel every team 5-0 in all 38 of their SPL fixtures this season is an insufferably dismissive delusion; I doubt Celtic will walk the league as quickly as everyone believes. They can if they want, but their minds are on something else, something I too, would argue should be our primary focus for this season. In case my less than subtle hints haven’t worked, I am, of course, referring to the Champions’ League, or at any rate, a good stab at Europe. Celtic fans must make a choice; do they want to win the SPL by February, maybe have another go at the Treble, and try to finish the SPL season undefeated? Or do they want to give the likes of Barcelona, Spartak Moskva and Benfica their complete focus, and really give them a game, with 60,000, once again slightly intoxicated, green-and-white clad supporters roaring them on to…who knows where?

I am most certainly a fan of the latter. Not only does this mean that we give our all in the Champions League, it also means that we get to blood our youngsters in the SPL; the likes of Tony Watt, Filip Twardzik, Marcus Fraser, Joe Chalmers, Dylan McGeouch, Jackson Irvine and, when he comes back from injury, Paul George, are Celtic’s stars of the future. This policy of progressively bringing through the teenagers in order to, as Neil Lennon himself commented, ‘make our own heroes’, is one which has been consistently thrown at the support from the Celtic media, simultaneously implying that our youth development system is the replacement for any flashy transfer policy, but also highlighting our dedication to making sure that these players have the ability and confidence at playing at SPL level as early as possible.

I am excited by Twardzik’s passing, clearly seen as Ki’s replacement by Lennon, enthralled by Watt’s strength, speed and technical ability, and encouraged by Fraser’s no-nonsense solidity. I look forward to seeing these players make their mark on our SPL season, and hope they continue to start games, while constantly developing into Lawwell’s  ‘Champion’s League quality’ players.

I understand the argument made that many people, due to financial or time constraints, cannot attend our grand European nights, and that they feel it’s unjust that they have to put up with a worse quality of football being played during the games which they can attend. I do agree that this is unfair, but I believe that it is a necessary evil (if you can call seeing our young players improve into future greats an evil) if we are to make significant strides in perhaps advancing in the Champions League, and developing our young players by incorporating them into first team action on a regular basis, a la Sporting and Ajax.

I view this as two steps forward and one step back; by sacrificing our potentially record-breaking season, we can divert our complete concentration on the Champions’ League, while allowing our talented teenagers the game time they need to turn them into the quality of players who will inspire fear and awe into the likes of Spartak’s manager, rather than provoking condescension. This is a huge and exciting season for Celtic; a turning point in our 125 year history. We just have to wake up and see the bigger picture.

Sep 062012
 

Months On From My Last Article, Campbell Is Still Clinging On…


 

Campbell, Campbell, Campbell…

Sorry, perhaps that was rude of me. I suppose I should refer to the current President of the Scottish Football Association with an appropriate level of respect, so I’ll be polite and refer to him as Mr Ogilvie from now on.

Now, “respect” is an interesting word. The Oxford English Dictionary lists the definition of “respect” as follows: “[mass noun] a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements”.

However, when the topic of discussion comes to Mr Ogilvie, I find myself in a bit of a quandary. I do not have any admiration for Mr Ogilvie, and thus, I do not respect him, nor his abilities, qualities or achievements.

In fact, my apologies, that is not strictly true. I do admire Mr Ogilvie, his abilities and his achievements, in part, and I shall explain why I feel like this.

Campbell Ogilvie, President of the Scottish Football Association since early June 2011, became the General Secretary at Rangers in 1978. At this point in time, the Ibrox club of old were still actively enforcing a “no Catholics” signing policy, and within some years of his first appointment, Mr Ogilvie went onto become a director at the club. Of course, someone involved in such a segregationist regime should never have been allowed to rise to a position of power in Scottish Football, let alone in “modern” times, but I digress.

In 2003, Mr Ogilvie became Treasurer of the Scottish Football Association (the current equivalent being the second Vice President), before progressing to the role of Vice President in 2008.

Mr Ogilvie left his position as a director at the old Rangers in 2005, whilst “remaining a consultant” according to a BBC article written at the time. Within a few months of his departure, Mr Ogilvie began a new role with Edinburgh club Heart of Midlothian, firstly as a Operations Director, before being promoted to Managing Director in 2008.

Investigations by various media outlets and bloggers, including Alex Thomson of Channel 4, have since proven that Mr Ogilvie transferred 3,505 shares in the old Rangers Football Club to his wife, Karolina, in 2008. This meant that Mr Ogilvie held shares in a football club whilst working for another, and whilst working as the Treasurer of the Scottish Football Association. This is, to use a rather clichéd term nowadays, a stark conflict of interest.

Now, a quick look at the rule book tells us that;

“Except with the prior written consent of the Board, no Member, Associate Member or Official, may at one time either directly or indirectly:-

21.1.1 hold or seek to acquire beneficial ownership of or deal in the shares or securities of another club;

or

21.1.2 be a member or shareholder of, or lender in any capacity to, more than one club…”

Of course, this clear breach of the rules appears to have been totally ignored in the corridors of power. Funny that, isn’t it?

Now, don’t get me wrong, Mr Ogilvie’s financial security hardly depended on the performance of these shares due to their relatively low value. However, the fact that he, and then his wife, owned them is important. Put simply, it is not allowed. For the record, his wife would legally be known as an aforementioned associate, and hence the transfer out of his name makes no real difference in legal terms.

And so, despite all of this, on the 8th June 2011, Mr Ogilvie became the President of the Scottish Football Association, as he succeeded George Peat. In the time since that date, the old Rangers have been engulfed in scandal after scandal, and found guilty of sin after sin, with the most notable examples involving the non-payment of taxes.

Three letters which have become synonymous with the sins of the old club are E, B and T. Employee Benefit Trusts (EBT’s) are financial instruments used by businesses to pay employees and avoid the payment of tax. Of course, the First Tier Tax Tribunal (FTTT), colloquially known as the “Big Tax Case”, have still to publish a verdict as to whether or not Rangers use of EBT’s were legal or illegal.

However, the legality of these schemes are, at least in one sense, irrelevant. Fundamentally, the facts, in a footballing sense, are clear for all to see. The use of payments through this scheme were undeclared in player and staff contracts, and this is a breach of the rules. All payments made to players must be declared to the Scottish Football Association. Any undeclared payments are illegal. Simple.

Mr Ogilvie has since admitted to having a knowledge of the use of these schemes. Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise, as in a television documentary and online, it has been proven that Mr Ogilvie was a recepient of no less than £95,000 through such a scheme. The critical thing to note though is that Mr Ogilvie knew about the use of these schemes, and hence the non-declared payments to players, and did not declare it. He received these payments whilst he was the Treasurer of the Scottish Football Association, and he never spoke of it.

In a recent interview with “The Scotsman”, Mr Ogilvie said: “”I can’t remember [who offered me my EBT] but I didn’t give it too much thought at the time. I don’t have to give you the figures but there are all sorts of suggestions out there. I got three payments between 2001 and 2003. It was a £5,000 payment on each of those dates and then on the termination of my employment, as part of my settlement, I got a figure of £80,000. So I knew the EBT scheme was in place but I didn’t know the extent and which players had them.”

Nowadays, there has been much speculation that those in power in Scottish Football will, once again, attempt to find a way to accelerate “The Rangers” (previously known as Sevco Scotland) promotion to the Scottish Premier League. When Doran Goian left for a year long loan recently, he was quoted as saying that “When it’s over I’ll have my contract with Rangers again and I hope something is going to change and I’ll get the chance to play in the SPL again with Rangers. I think it will happen…”

Of course, speculation is just that, speculation. However, with players like David Templeton, a youngster who played at Anfield in the Europa League only hours before choosing to drop four divisions to play for “The Rangers”, people are naturally beginning to wonder what promises these men are being given. Recent signing Sebastian Faure has been quoted as saying that Ally McCoist told him, upon transfer discussions, that he hoped the club’s path to the top flight would be accelerated. All in all, you don’t need to be a genius to wonder what involvement the current President of the Scottish Football Association has in all of this. An ex-director and shareholder in the old Rangers, it is clear he was a Rangers supporter and, like many, he will now support “The Rangers”. Personally, I don’t think the rest of Scottish Football will stand for any new attempts at league reconstruction to accelerate their path up the leagues, but I digress. The fact his reconstruction was being put off and put off, until the demise of the old Rangers, before being looked at again is telling in itself.

And so, I do, in fact, admire Mr Ogilvie’s abilities and achievements, as I am utterly amazed at his ability to “forget” to highlight information of such importance, and I feel the fact that he is still the President of the Scottish Football Association would be, at least in any other country, an incredible achievement, considering how many conflicts of interest he has been shown to be guilty of.

However, I do not respect Mr Ogilvie, and I feel his actions over the years have shown that he has no respect for you, the average football fan, or for Scottish Football as a whole. He was part of a regime which prohibited the signing of Catholics whilst at Rangers, he held shares in Rangers whilst in his role at a rival football club, and he both received payments from, and never declared his knowledge of (until forced), the use of undeclared payments at Rangers whilst he held more and more significant offices of power within Scottish Football’s governing body.

Campbell, I feel you should have resigned long, long ago. With every passing day you hold your position, more and more people lose respect for both you and the body you represent. Your reputation has been irreparably tarnished by your own actions (and inactions), and trying to stay out of the limelight for a time will not change that. Do what the fans you are supposed to represent would like you to do, and step down.

Campbell, Campbell, Campbell…

Sep 022012
 

French-Tunisian Joins On A Two Year Deal

Some have said he looks like Georgios Samaras…

In the last few minutes, Celtic have officially announced the signing of Tunisian international striker Lassad Nouioui. The twenty six year old was born in Marseille in 1986, and now stands at approximately six feet two inches tall. At the start of his career, Lassad played for youth sides Felix Eyat and Saint Gabrielle in France, before moving to Ajaccio and senior football in 2004. A few years later, Nouioui moved onto Chateroux in a fruitless search of first team football, before finally moving to Deportivo La Coruna in Spain in 2008.

This was to be the move which would ignite his career, as he first impressed with his performances with the club’s B team, scoring sixteen times in twenty five appearances. These displays soon earned him a place in the first team, and in three season, Lassad made ninety appearances for Deportivo, scoring twenty four goals.

As his contract ended in the summer, Lassad was a much sought after free agent, with La Liga side Levante competing with Celtic for his signature. However, the draw of Champions League football and the challenges it brings has helped to attract the striker to Celtic Park, in time for him to be registered in the squad to feature in the competition.

All in all, Lassad has scored forty five times in one hundred and forty two senior appearances. Some of his goals can be found in the short video below.

Welcome to Celtic, Lassad.

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