Nov 152012

A Step In The Right Direction



This Wednesday, having been invited by Celtic Football Club following the results of our catering survey, I met with Celtic’s head of catering, and a representative from The Lindley Group (the company who supply the food on match days at Celtic Park).

The meeting itself was positive in it’s nature, and the Club committed to both increased and improved consultation with it’s supporters regarding the issues raised. Whilst the meeting was very friendly, I did ensure the Club understood that the “status quo” could not be allowed to continue in the long term, as a high percentage of supporters were becoming (if they were not already) fed up with what is on offer at present.

I must admit that, having taken part in this meeting, I do now have more faith that there is a determination to improve what is available to “average” supporters. Within three days of the survey reaching Mr Lawwell, meetings were being called in the catering department, and they have since drawn up an “action plan” in an attempt to address the aforementioned issues.

With this in mind, Celtic have asked me to assemble a group of around fifteen supporters to attend a larger meeting sometime in January. This session will include chances for these individuals to discuss their concerns with both Celtic and Lindley, as well as tasting potential new products.

Whilst I already have several people in mind who I plan to ask to accompany me to this meeting, I plan to choose several people who I have never met before, and I am therefore asking for volunteers from the support. Of course, if hundreds of people put their names forward, I will not be able to accept everyone’s generous offer, but I certainly aim to accept a few.

The meeting will take place on a week night in January (exact date still to be confirmed), and I will be looking for people from all demographics within the Celtic support; young, old, male, female, people with children, vegetarians etc. If you would be interested in helping us out and putting your name forward, you can do so by leaving a comment at the bottom of the article, by emailing us using the “contact” tab at the top of the page, or by contacting us via Twitter.

Depending on what time the meeting finishes, I may even suggest a little trip to the pub afterwards.

Going into the meeting, I knew there was a few main areas with which the support felt unhappy, namely product quality, pricing, and choice.

Firstly, with regards to quality, the representative from Lindley defended the quality of several products, partly blaming the issues with them on errors during preparation (items being burnt, left sitting for extended periods of time etc). In this regard, he may well be right. Having had countless reports of cremated food, this is certainly part of it.

Next; pricing. This is something which I would love to see lowered in the future, but cannot foresee any immediate decrease in.

Lastly, product choice spawned a rather lengthy discussion which was of some interest in my mind. Both Celtic and Lindley cited several examples of times when they had trialled new types of food, as well as new manners of delivery. This included trials of products such as pasta, as well as hot dog carts separate from the usual queues. On every occasion, they claimed these trials failed miserably. However, as I pointed out, if trials such as these are not well publicised within the fan base before hand, very few people will be aware of the fact they are ongoing, and thus it is impossible to achieve a representative opinion from supporters. For this reason, if and when future trials are to be carried out, I asked for us to be informed sometime prior to the event, so that we could do our best to publicise it.

Returning to our meeting yesterday, I had the Club officially clarify a few points which had been raised by some of you through our survey and your comments.

Firstly, they claim that free tap water is currently available at each and every kiosk at Celtic Park. If you ask for it, and are told it’s not available, please take a note of where the kiosk is located, notify myself and I will pass it onto the appropriate people at the Club. Improving this availability is something I am determined to push for.

Secondly, providing it is not housed in a sealed container, you are, at least officially, allowed to take any food you like into Celtic Park, whether it is sandwiches, or whatever else. If you have any issues with stewards or police officers taking anything like this off of you upon entering the stadium, take a note of their number (or which turnstile it was outside) and again, if you contact me regarding it, I will pass it on.

Finally, the Club maintain that all complaints, regardless of whether they concern the catering, toilets, or anything else, receive a unique response from the Club. So, once again, if you have any future complaints, you are more than welcome to contact myself and we’ll do our best to represent your views to the Club.

In summary, when catering for tens of thousands of people, it is difficult to make radical changes overnight. However, I do feel that this has been an important first step in the right direction. A dialogue has been opened, and proverbially, we now have our foot in the door.

With regards to people suggesting the introduction of franchising (whether it was Greggs, one of several other high profile outlets mentioned, or local businesses) this will not be a viable option for at least a couple of seasons due to contracts currently in place. However, I am more than hopeful we will be able to work together with Lindley in order to improve the current situation.

I must take this opportunity to thank the Club and the Lindley Group for taking a considerable amount of their time (over an hour and a half) to speak to myself.

By working together, I am hopeful that we will begin to see improvements. Rest assured, we won’t be giving up on this any time soon.

  12 Responses to “Meeting Results: Catering Survey”

  1. smoking in toilets is getting out of hand and other places within the stadium, a health hazard and a fire hazard.

  2. You have raised some interesting points. I attend with my father and 2 nephews. Last year I had ongoing difficulties obtaining hot water, simply as an alternative hot drink. Countless supervisors required to be consulted in this 2-3 month period. Eventually I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. Needless to say cold wasn’t offered either. I’ve never seen or heard of a pasta option; as you say, they need to publicise in advance. I went looking for a chicken burger at the Barcelona game (lesser of evils in my experience) as I hadn’t had any tea, nowhere to be found. The wedges were inedible. The range and quality of food varies around the stadium. I hope that it can be sorted, it’s the area where we are let down. Happy to provide further comment/input.

    • I’m more than happy to hear any further input you may have, but what I would say is, from now on, if you have any issues please pass them onto me and I’ll email them directly to the catering dept at Celtic Park (i.e. bypassing the usual generic channels). Hopefully, this way we’ll begin to see a gradual improvement in all areas. Thanks again :)

  3. the problem I’ve witnessed is that the supervisors behind the counters are concentrating more on the till than the quality of the products getting dispensed to the customer,which as a chef of over thirty five years is totally wrong.
    Ive been going to celtic park since 1969 and all that was available in those days was the ,pie,bovril,rolls and cheese,spearmint and macaroon bars,but times have changed,and the food side has changed as well which means a change in thinking towards the clients in the stadium
    I recall witnessing a chef running from the main stand past the temporary stand(now the jock stein stand)and into the north stand with a big pot of soup)crazy?? no it was to supplement the hospitality people in the captains table as they were running out of soup
    There is a simple answer to this and that is that the supervisors in all the outlets should be concentrating on the quality of the food going to the customer(the fan)rather than the till.

  4. I read this with interest as I for one enjoy a snack and a coffee at half time. The level of catering at Celtic Park is very poor with the quality of food very sub standard. Im sure these are problems that can be quite easily rectified. Im not sure that pasta is quite what the fans want but a chouce of better pastys would be good…….steak, chicken, cheese & onion. Rolls n sausage or bacon…..sandwiches & rolls. These are all basic snack, easy to prepare wirh no great skill and can be sold at a reasonable price to customer with good mark up for retailer.
    I would be interested in taking part in the meeting in January to hear the suggestions and hopefully help build on them on the best way forward to a problem that will hope get better soon!
    Brenda xxz

  5. Made aware of this by friend. As a chef I’m often disgusted by the food I am served up at Celtic park. The lack of free tap water especially on hot days is disgraceful. I have personally witnessed supporters being strechered out because they had to stand in a queue for a drink only to be told there was nothing. available. Also waiting for 15-20 minutes for your food at the “halftime rush” to then be presented with a cold pie, cremated pizza and far too often ice cold coffee is totally unacceptable in a small cafe never mind in a football stadium. The prices which are paid for season tickets and of course match day tickets deserve at least a decent feed.

  6. As a supporter who attends regularly with children I would like to be considered to attend the meeting. I am a 42 year old mum of 4 kids who loves takin the kids to the games but the pricin of the food makes it difficult!
    I have some ideas where things can be improved and I have mailed you about these ideas before.
    Please consider me for attendance!
    Thanks! x

  7. […] from Celtic Football Club and their suppliers, and the results of those discussions can be found here. In addition to this, the Club asked me to go away and assemble a group of around fifteen […]

  8. I sit in fs2 with my daughter, she loves the hotdog but,it means I need to queue for a hotdog and then queue again for a drink because the hotdog stand does not sell carbonated drinks like Coca-Cola etc. Also I was interested to read about taking food in. I would love to try and take a burger in from the stalls outside as they are far superior but I’m sure I’d be treated like a criminal if I tried.

  9. Is there any chance you can raise the issue of smoking in the toilets. It really is a huge problem. I cannot use them because of the putrid atmosphere. Can a couple of stewards not be positioned in each toilet?

    • It’s certainly something that wouldn’t be massively difficult to prevent, I’ll give you that. Personally I’d honest rather they smoked on the tier than in the toilets, since the open air at least disperses it somewhat, but point taken.

  10. Hi there, Are there any places left for tonights meeting??

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