Aug 112014
 
As a result of the news highlighted in the headline above, I have returned our website (which has recently been offline for maintenance and updates) to the public domain for a few days in order to publish the following article. I have attempted to summarise certain areas discussed within the article into the bulletpoints below for those of you who do not wish to read the following piece in its entirety.
However, in order for me to do this news and the events which have led us to this point justice, I have written the article below in an attempt to be as open as I possibly can be regarding the catering situation at Celtic Park, something I have been unable to do for sometime at the request of those involved with various contractual matters. Also, having read the article, I would ask for your thoughts and opinions on any and all matters discussed therein (here or on Twitter), as the views of the Celtic support are critical in this regard. I will also answer any questions and of you may have on Twitter as best I can. Thank you.
Please note, if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article and have not done so on our site previously, it will not appear until an administrator has been online and confirmed it is not spam. This may take a few hours in some cases.

 

Catering Improvements Promised For This Season?

 

  • Centerplate UK will now operate kiosks and say they are committed to improving match day experience
  • The UK branch of the American company recently acquired The Lindley Group
  • Centerplate UK will provide significant investment at Celtic Park
  • Refurbishments to be completed sometime around the end of this month, having been delayed by the Commonwealth Games
  • Much improvement has been promised, but whether or not this comes to fruition remains to be seen

 

In the coming days, Celtic Football Club will confirm that they have recently signed a new stadium catering contract with Centerplate UK (the UK branch of an American company), having previously worked with The Lindley Group for the majority of the last decade.

Over the last eighteen months, I have met with representatives of Celtic Football Club and The Lindley Group on numerous occasions, as well as arranging several larger scale supporters’ meetings, in an attempt to highlight our concerns regarding the continually poor standard of catering on offer to paying spectators at Celtic Park.

Around the turn of the year (2013/14), I made the decision to no longer attend any such meetings in which representatives of The Lindley Group were going to be present. I did so for the following reasons:

1. Having spent hours upon hours discussing supporters’ concerns – both in general terms and with regards specific incidents (in detail which extended to the relevant match days, kiosks and timings in question) – I felt such concerns were falling on deaf ears more often than not. This culminated in one discussion which saw me explaining an incident whereby a father was forced to take his child home only minutes into their first Celtic match together after the child began to vomit repeatedly, having previously eaten a catering product which his father claimed was still frozen at points in the middle.

Subsequently, I was told by a senior member of The Lindley Group that as no incident report was filed by the father on the day, they could not take any action as there was no proof that the event ever took place. I considered this to be wholly unacceptable and, whilst I refrained from simply getting up and walking out of the meeting, from that point on I felt I could no longer maintain a healthy working relationship with The Lindley Group.

2. I knew Celtic’s contract with The Lindley Group was set to expire at the end of the 2013-14 season, and had been told the Football Club intended to put any deal for the following season out to tender. In this sense, I felt a victory of sorts had been achieved.

3. Representatives of The Lindley Group told me in no uncertain terms that issues such as pricing could not be altered mid-season, and thus no amount of arguing by myself could change that in the remaining months of the season. I therefore felt there was nothing more I could do until the summer.

Before continuing, for the sake of clarity, I must take this opportunity to mention the two employees of Celtic Football Club with whom I met regularly, David Stothers (General Manager) and John Paul Taylor (Supporters’ Liaison Officer). Speaking personally, I cannot praise either of these two gentlemen highly enough with regards their professionalism over the last eighteen months. During this time, they have both been incredibly helpful, accommodating and honest with myself and all of the other supporters involved at one stage or another. For this, I owe them and the Football Club my gratitude.

Returning to the matter at hand, whilst meeting occasionally with the aforementioned representatives of Celtic Football Club as the 2013-14 season gradually came to a close, I largely left the catering subject alone, simply waiting for The Lindley Group’s time to run it’s course.

However, during the summer of 2014, I became aware of Celtic’s intention to sign a new catering contract with Centerplate UK – Centerplate having acquired The Lindley Group a little over a year earlier with the aim of combining their UK operations and rebranding this conglomerate as Centerplate UK.

Now, as I’m sure you will understand, my immediate reaction upon hearing this news was one of disappointment and frustration, having spent the last year actively attempting to dissuade Celtic Football Club from having any future involvement with The Lindley Group. I also had the impulse to immediately tweet this information. However, at the request of Celtic, who had both legal and contractual issues in mind, I respectfully refrained from doing so.

Of course, now that the contract has been signed and I have informed the Club of my intention to do so, I can publicise that piece of information, as well as offering as frank an account of what has gone on over the last eighteen months as I can.

In truth, I still hold several reservations regarding the connection between Centerplate UK and The Lindley Group of old, albeit there has been some significant changes in the structuring of the company’s hierarchy and the new contract requires Celtic’s caterers to meet much higher standards than that outlined in their original agreements with The Lindley Group. I must also highlight that Celtic are treating Centerplate UK as a new company.

However, reservations aside for the moment and having seen more detail regarding Centerplate UK’s plans for Celtic Park, I am quietly hopeful we will begin to see things improve in the first couple of months of this season.

With the significant level of investment in facilities being made by Centerplate UK, various kiosks – the vast majority of which will be given a makeover both aesthetically and functionally – should offer Celtic supporters a broader product choice than that which was available in previous seasons, with everything from soup and stovies to fish and chips on offer, and even Domino’s Pizza if you happen to have access to the lower tier of the North Stand.

Kiosks within the upper tier of the North Stand and the South Stand as a whole will be the first to see such improvements, with other areas following in the coming weeks. Both parties had hoped to see such refurbishments completed across the stadium prior to our first home game, but the presence of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at Celtic Park has delayed this process slightly. As an aside, it is noteworthy the upper tier of the Lisbon Lions Stand will be the last area of the ground to be addressed as it is not currently open for most home matches.

Certainly, if the rhetoric from Centerplate UK is to be believed, queues at Parkhead should begin to move faster, customer service improve and product quality rise notably. Should these improvements happen, I have no doubts that they will be roundly welcomed.

However, one matter of potential concern which I am afraid I cannot elaborate upon at this time is that of pricing, despite having asked the question during my last meeting at Celtic Park. I suppose then this will only become clear on Saturday 16th August when Celtic play at home for the first time in the 2014-15 season.

I have previously asked Celtic, in conjunction with Police Scotland and their stewards, to provide me with a list (agreed on by all parties) of food/drink items which fans are allowed to/prohibited from bringing with them into the stadium in order to clarify such matters. I have yet to receive such a list, but I will be attending a meeting in the next few weeks where this matter will be addressed. I shall publish this list once I have attended this meeting and received it. For those supporters who are not in a financial position to purchase products inside the ground, or simply for those who do not wish to, I felt this was the least I could do on their behalf.

I have also spoken with the Football Club once again regarding plans to potentially use much of the leftover food from match days in order to help the homeless people of Glasgow. Initially, such proposals were rejected by The Lindley Group, who cited both health and safety regulations as well as several other logistical matters among their reasons. However, Celtic remain open to ideas and are committed to putting some level of planning into action in the relatively near future in conjunction with Centerplate UK, who have been more receptive to the idea than their predecessors, which is encouraging.

As for my own role up until this point in time and any future involvement of mine, I will leave that to yourselves. Many of you may recall this whole saga spawned from an online survey which I, perhaps naively, never thought much would come of. I certainly did not expect thousands of people to reply and subsequently to be writing about it eighteen months on.

Now, whilst I am ready and willing to continue to attend meetings with the Football Club in order to relay any concerns which supporters may have to them, I am also aware that I have no divine right to do so. I hold no official role and possess no official mandate, I have simply worked on the back of a survey which was very strongly supported in an attempt to accelerate some level of change and improvement at Celtic Park.

With a new contract signed and a significant level of investment forthcoming in accompaniment, a change of sorts has come, but whether or not any rise or fall in standards will be apparent remains to be seen. With this in mind, I feel I must ask you all for your thoughts. If a significant number of you wish me to continue as is for new season then I will, but if the majority of you would rather see someone else take up the reins then I shall happily allow them to do so.

In closing, I sincerely hope that both Celtic Football Club and their new partners Centerplate UK listen to the views of the Celtic support and accommodate them as best they can. For too long, football supporters have been served up varying levels of dross at matches across the country purely because the stereotype which dictates that football food is generally poor allows caterers to drop their standards in order to increase their profits.

Nobody expects fillet steak or lobster at Celtic Park, only reasonably priced, well prepared products of a good quality. When fans of all ages and backgrounds are handing over their hard earned cash on a regular basis within an enclosed retail environment, I feel that is the least we should demand.

Thank you.

  22 Responses to “Celtic Sign New Catering Deal”

  1. Thanks for all your hard work in this matter. Hopefully things will improve though firm can help by paying better wages and getting staff in that understand catering to large numbers and how important it is to keep things moving quickly. Look forward to seeing what your good work has reaped.

  2. Thank you very much for you work on this important issue.

  3. I agree, great job. The catering is actually awful at celtic park. Over priced, no variety and a wee bit rubbish! My biggest concern is the continued association with Coca Cola. Next to Nike they are one of the most unethical companies in the world.(killercoke.org)
    Why do we not have Barrs or at least a local company supplying the drinks? And is it too much to ask for water!!
    Again, thanks for taking this on and keep up the good work.

    • Hi Alison,

      I presume we have some sort of deal currently running with Coca Cola, but I’d have to check that one out for you in order to give you a proper answer.

      As for the water, this has been a long running gripe of mine. It should be freely available upon request at any and every kiosk within the stadium, although I know this is often far from the case.

      Our previous caterers didn’t seem particularly bothered about this issue, but I’ll be sure to make the club aware of the fact such apathy cannot be allowed from our new caterers. If you happen to have any problems getting water within the stadium in future, please take note of where the kiosk is located and I’ll pass that on to the appropriate people.

      Thanks very much again for your input.

  4. Keep up the good work, and thank you for your efforts HH.

  5. First I would like to thank you for the time and trouble you took on behalf the fans. I have been moaning to anyone who would listen about the quality and price of food on sale for years.

    I would urge you to continue with your work. You may not get better fare at other grounds across the country, but you can certainly get cheaper deals than those on offer at Celtic Park.

  6. Hi

    Thanks for highlighting these issues, the catering has been overpriced and sub-standard for a while now. I’m one of many who has simply voted with my feet and used the burger vans outside, which are ok in terms of quality and price.

    People who wish to be thrifty should opt for a lunch deal at tesco and get a sandwich, bottle of juice and crisps for £3.00. That and a jacket with deep pockets to sneek it in as you are not allowed any food or drinking your own in the stadium.

    The only time I used the catering was a game were I was absolutely soaking wet and needed a cup of tea to warm up, it cost £2.30 and was lukewarm and tasteless.

    • Hi Paul, you’re certainly not alone there. With any luck we’ll have an agreed group of items which spectators will be allowed to bring into the stadium within the next few weeks or so, so sandwiches and crisps should finally be permitted without issue. I can’t see the police agreeing to allow bottles or cans though as they view them as “potential missiles”, but that’s another matter entirely. If you have any further comments in future then please don’t hesitate to give us a shout, and thanks again for taking the time to type out the above response.

  7. Kiosk service has been dreadful (North Stand Upper). Lack of trained staff being the main failing. Well done for following this one through.

    • Yeah, I sit up in the same neck of the woods as yourself so I can sympathise there. The club have acknowledged the two main problem areas within the ground are the south stand and the north upper, both partly due to a lack of space in each, but hopefully we’ll begin to see some level of improvement this year. If you happen to have any thoughts in future be sure to give us a shout, always happy to hear your input. Thanks again.

  8. Hope they sell Celtic pies???

  9. I think it is fantastic that you represent the interests of the fans in this way and hope you will continue in this thankless but important role.
    Season ticket holder for 20+ years but can count the number of times I’ve bought food inside the ground. Brought up in the days of ‘macaroon bars and spearmint chewing gum’ perhaps I’ve never really developed a pizza and chips habit. Mainly however I think it’s because it’s simply a bit of a rip off. Yes make the quality better but prices need to come down as well.
    Thanks
    Gerrymc

  10. I for one would be more than happy for you to carry on with this, I appreciate the effort you have put in for your fellow fans. I know that these firms are there to make a profit, but surely there is profit to be made without fleecing us because they see us as a captive audience, maybe Paul Coyle (posted above) has the right idea but something hot and reasonably priced would be welcomed too
    Thanks for all your efforts so far

  11. you have worked hard on our behalf so far, please continue.
    On the subject of ‘leftover’ food, a number of years ago (prior to tightening of food safety standards) I would go to Parkhead on a Sunday and take (bread) baskets full of pies and distribute them around some of the ‘Models’, homeless men’s homes in Glasgow. I was never turned away and they always appreciated anything they received. This would be more difficult now but a bit of thought on what products could be reused this way would be a great help to various organisations.

  12. Thanks for your efforts on this, been a bugbear of mine for some time. I have not purchased half time food from Celtic Park for some time. The previous two occasions, I left my seat bang on half time and was still waiting to be served 5 minutes into the second half. Each time an order was made by a customer, the person on the till had to run around the back of the kiosk picking items from various locations. The pies were in the back corner! Why no chutes like McDonald’s for speed? Really simple stuff. If it was a quick process, more people would buy food at half time, meaning more revenue for the club. My thoughts on the healthiness, quality and price of the food echo the other readers above.

  13. Thanks for your efforts on this, been a bugbear of mine for some time. I have not purchased half time food from Celtic Park for some time. The previous two occasions, I left my seat bang on half time and was still waiting to be served 5 minutes into the second half. Each time an order was made by a customer, the person on the till had to run around the back of the kiosk picking items from various locations. The pies were in the back corner! Why no chutes like McDonald’s for speed? Really simple stuff. If it was a quick process, more people would buy food at half time, meaning more revenue for the club. My thoughts on the healthiness, quality and price of the food echo the other readers above. Keep up the good work!

  14. Kiosk food has been abysmal for years.
    It’s catering to the masses with no thought into quality & service.

    It can only improve, I hope……

  15. […] Maleys Bhoys on twitter has published an article on them, which is worth a look.  HERE . […]

  16. The food is over priced and usually over cooked. Cold tea weak coffee and bovril. Queue at the stairwell at 112 is a health and safety hazard. When you speak to someone they just shrug their shoulders I hope it changes. Oh and well done keep up the good work

  17. All fans should boycott these stalls until they pay their staff the LIVING wage. This is just another American company coming in make big profits without a care for their staff or customers

  18. I think you have done a great job. What worries me is the lack of space. My seat (and my sons) is in the Main Stand Lower tier, there is very little space in the walkway from the turn-style to the seating area and this is where the kiosk for food is. I couldn’t agree more with the other posts on here, the food is over-priced tasteless rubbish.

    Hopefully we will see a marked improvement on Saturday.

    Thanks again for all your hard work, please keep it going.

  19. Regarding allowed stuff into celtic park. I used to take Capri suns in with no hassle as they are soft bodied and can’t really be used as a missile.
    I’ve always thought the missile thing was very convenient for all clubs to use as a way og getting you to buy overpriced drinks from them. Same principle at airports . A security issue abused to make you spend money. £1.50 for a bottle of water ? Ridiculous. Anyway. Keep up the good work and thanks for your efforts so far.

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