News that fans could be able to attend games from the middle of next month is very welcome. Lots can happen between now and then but Celtic Park with a reduced capacity is better than an empty Celtic Park.
For those attending, the process of gaining entry to the ground will feel onerous; more like being allowed onto a flight than into a stadium. A trial-run next week against Motherwell, even if only for 1,000 of us, will be useful to check processes before more significant numbers arrive.
On 20 February this year, a day after Newco advertised on their website for a kit partner, I told you production runs for replica football kit were such, that getting a deal done and shirts on shelves for this season in any volume was impossible. I wrote, “manufacturing slots are booked in March or early April. These are high volume items, production cannot be arrange doff the cuff.
“Multi-million pound contracts with any serious manufacturer will require scoping and due diligence, this could take weeks, if not longer.”
There are a small number of manufacturing facilities in the world that can produce these garments in volume, the major brands all use them and production slots are booked – to the minute – months out.
When Newco and Castore announced their deal in May and promised to ship in August, two possibilities occurred to me: I was wrong, or they were both flying by the seat of their threadbare pants.
Yesterday, the kit supplier apologised for adding Castore and Newco logos to school sweatshirts (busted as they had not gone to the trouble of changing details on the washing label). They also apologised for shipping top quality replica tops from China to some fans, when they intended to only ship inferior kit, manufactured at a location in Turkey. Yes, really.
Fans are now comparing shirts with a similar quality to any other replica football top, and something that costs the same as any other replica top, but is a very inferior product.
Getting things right in football costs money, takes time and experience. If you think you can breeze into this industry, bang a few heads together and deliver a world-class deal, you have world-class arrogance.
Newco’s commercial director, James Bisgrove, was less than a year in the job when he put an email address on the club website asking kit suppliers to get in touch. To be fair to him, it was a terrible position to be in, but he signed a deal without the scoping and due diligence that would prevent fans suffering this debacle. He does not have the experience required to do the job.
In February, before Castore were even a glint in the Newco eye, I wrote that their new kit deal, “will be a poor contract and it will perform badly for all concerned.” But all of us who have been paying attention for the last 8 years (and the 12 before) knew that.