I received an email from John Paul Taylor, Celtic’s recently appointed Supporter Relations’ Manager, asking for some help getting the message of his appointment out to the support, and explaining what he is there to do. This, for a guy whose inbox will never be empty, was a refreshingly proactive approach.
Here are the questions I put to John Paul, with his answers below:
So what is the scope of your Supporter Relations remit?
“The role is basically to provide a link between supporters and the Club. Since starting I’ve had a number of issues to deal with including the 5:15 Kick Off, Hearts away and what supporters should do in terms of submitting ticket applications given their current financial plight, supporter behaviour and specifically the Section 111 issue.
“I’ve also travelled to Sweden to provide information and assistance to supporters and officials of If Elfsborg at our UCL Qualifier and more recently I have been working with supporters who have been trying to obtain visas for Kazakhstan. In addition to this I have been working with colleagues relative to Stadium Catering and providing feedback in order that we can assess what happens next, so as you can see a wide and varied range of issues to work on.”
What will you be able to do if supporters come with issues around policing or stewarding?
“These are basically matters which come under the remit of the Operations Director, however there is a responsibility on my part to ensure that they are being addressed. Consequently any issues raised will be discussed and action appropriate action taken.
“Naturally any action has to be consistent and appropriate to the nature of the complaint. The issue of Policing of Celtic Supporters is very much to the fore at the moment and we welcome feedback and specific examples of inappropriate or unfair treatment.”
There are tens of thousands of contacts between supporters and the club, between getting entry to the ground, to buying a cola to using the toilets. Lots of these interactions don’t hit the mark, if you are successful in getting things done, you know it’s only a matter of time before you’re swamped, unless the supporter experience reaches legendary levels?
“I think this is a good point, however I think in the main supporters are generally satisfied with their match day experience. Quite clearly though there are some things that we could do better, equally there will be times where we just get it wrong. This is where the service aspect of my role comes into play and I would ask that on such occasions, supporters make me aware in order that we can provide a swift resolution through the relevant Departments.
“That is a particularly challenging aspect to the role but I believe that we are putting processes in place which are helping us turn around our complaint handling very quickly.”
Are there limits to what you can talk to fans about?
“Football and Finance are really areas where I can’t offer any real assistance. Although, like almost every football fan in the world I would consider myself to be a football expert its one area that there are people more qualified than me to speak about these things when it comes to Club matters “
Have the club established a route for you to get things done?
“I think because this is an entirely new role we are working on a ‘let’s see how it develops’ basis. Naturally I have KPI’s and specific projects that I need to complete but I am working for a lot of the time on my own initiative and providing feedback on the key issues of the day so it’s important to keep a handle on everything that’s going on with the support and what the main topics are.
“I think being close to supporters and having a wide circle of friends and family who are supporters is a real benefit in this respect.”
Final question, who are we going to sign?
“Ha, see the answer to question 4!!!”
I made the point to John Paul that if CQN is anything to go by, in many areas, satisfying one group of supporters is almost certainly going to compromise relations with another – the nature of a divergent club, open and tolerant of all from inception, perhaps, so this is not an easy shift.
That being said, news today suggests he’s off to a good start, which as Mo Bangura will tell you, is half the battle at Celtic.
CELTIC PAY THE PENALTY
I’m sure your mind has already cast ahead to Wednesday night. We will have plenty of possession inside the Shakhter box, which will increase the likelihood of being awarded a penalty kick.
Failure to properly prepare for penalty kicks has cost this football club more than I am prepared to recall in recent seasons, so we must be aware of the following:
There is a high probability we will be awarded a penalty.
Shakhter will know that Kris Commons is likely to hit any penalty.
Shakhter will know that Kris hit his last penalty straight down the middle.
We should prepare not just for a penalty kick competition, but for penalties during normal time.