In 30 years few will go to stadiums like Celtic Park


Safe standing comes to Scottish football. Standing was a part of our game for over a century (and still is in the semi-professional divisions), but the Taylor Report changed the game fundamentally, as grounds were made all-seater in the 1990s. This phenomenon was not restricted to the UK, Uefa (to some extent) enforced the trend on the rest of the Continent.

Then things changed in Germany. New stadiums had railed seating, which allowed spectators to stand during games. This allowed more people to fit into the same space. The grounds still had to be converted to conventional seating for Uefa games, but the phenomenon of safe standing proved, well, safe.

In fact, it is a lot safer than the de facto situation in many UK grounds, where away fans stand in areas which are clearly unsafe for standing crowds.

I understand why Celtic have situated the safe standing area where they have lower-tier corner of North and Lisbon Lions stands, but for me it should be North Stand upper. If you’re going to have a standing section, don’t just site it where one has emerged organically, put it where it best suits the stadium, can have most impact on atmosphere and has room to grow. Make no mistake, demand will outstrip supply for the standing area, and soon enough we’ll be wondering how we grow it.

The stadium can be further-portioned off. At the moment the family area is squashed between the new standing area and away fans – this section also has nowhere to grow. If you want more families, ensure each passing decade the stadium has more targeted family areas.

There should also be greater price differentiation for tickets. The pack-em-in reality of standing areas fits the profile of a cheaper ticket, which fits the reality of the North Stand upper’s isolation from amenities like lounges. Fill the North upper full of cheap, standing tickets, extend facilities like lounges – and charge accordingly, or family facilities, to lower tiers.

You want to stand in a busy area, move about and keep warm – pay less. You want to keep warm in a lounge – pay more. You want to take penalties against Ms Hoopy, go to the family area. Just bring a child, please.

30 years from now, few will want to watch football in a stadium like Celtic Park. This happened to football in the 70s and 80s.  It became stuck in the infrastructure of what was then regarded by many as a decrepit bygone era.  Many football fans just stopped going.  I can see history repeating itself.

Cater for the future or your local shopping mall/multiplex will.  In future, everyone will want access to a warm lounge before and after the game, and at halftime. Try planning a leisure activity in northern Europe for the 21st century and come up with any other conclusion.

Ticket machines should be at the perimeter of the stadium footprint. Once inside, you should have fan zones with bars, restaurants, cafes, play areas, shops – mostly undercover. You should never be more than 5 minutes away from being able to spend money. Or spend a penny – with paper towels available all afternoon.

I’m usually in the environs of Celtic Park close to 3 hours on a match day. The opportunities for engagement are enormous, but we’re miles away for thousands of us in the ‘reasonably priced’ seats.

None of this is meant as a criticism. We have a magnificent 20th century stadium, I was one of thousands who paid to build it. All of the above wish-list would cost millions we just don’t have – this is the reality. But we need to have a vision of what our future requirement looks like.

I still miss the old Celtic Park, the new stadium cannot touch if for atmosphere, but what we expect when we go to the football is different now, and will be different again in the future. The first thing I’d do if we broke free of Scottish football is call in the bulldozers and start again.

Season ticket prices remain same as last season, confounding conspiracy theorists four-year fantasy. This caused brief spates of cognitive dissonance before a fresh wave of conspiracies washed the pain away.

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  1. thetimreaper on

    ‘Many football fans just stopped going. I can see history repeating itself.’



    Paul I think that particular horse has already bolted.

  2. Peter T Lawwell on

    The green brigade should stand up for me and appreciate what I have done for them



    Maybe even a little song




    We love you Peter… we do



    We love you Peter … we do



    We love you Peter.. we do



    Oh Peter we love you




    The rest of the stadium should at that point join in to repeat the verse



    Thank you in advance





    Put the family area beside the old Celtic End. Kids should not be subject to the bile dished out by away fans.



    Nor should any of us,btw. But that’s FOCUS for you…

  4. The Battered Bunnet on




    Behave! It’ll never happen. Paper towels in the bogs? Fantasy. Forget about it.



    That said, there’s little to stop the club extending the turnstyles towards the perimeter, and creating the fan zone you refer to. The footprint at Celtic Park is pretty well shaped for it with ample room on three sides.



    Can’t see it costing the sums you suggest though. It’s a pretty modest enhancement in the first instance.

  5. celt for life on

    Can someone explain this to a daft soul like myself.



    “This season book will cover 19 matches and for the first time will guarantee the right to buy tickets for two sell-out games at a concession price. ”



    How do you buy tickets for a game that is sold out, confused.

  6. whitedoghunch on

    you tube it


    NEW CAMP NOU – A dream open to the world: this is what Barça’s new Stadium will look like

  7. kikinthenakas on

    The safe standing should be a section directly behind one of the goals which could extend upwards to the top tier. The yellow wall at Dortmund started behind the goal and now has the whole area.



    Stuck at George Best Airport as my flight has been delayed for a few hours…


    Only in Ireland…quote of the day “at least ur delay’s on time”…eh?




  8. CELT FOR LIFE on 4TH MAY 2016 12:29 PM



    I would imagine that seats won’t be put up for public sale regardless of ST sales. That’s the only plausible description I can think of.

  9. whitedoghunch on

    Ha TBB I was just posting you should look at the Barca videos


    I did not link as my youtube history is too embarassing

  10. antipodean red on

    The Clumpany,



    Another brilliant piece and not for the first time.



    After the debacle of the past few years and the last two in particular, the message coming out from the boardroom could have been written several weeks ago, unfortunately, they just don’t get the fans.







    Put the family area beside the old Celtic End. Kids should not be subject to the bile dished out by away fans.




    Nor should any of us,btw. But that’s FOCUS for you…



    In regard to the above. A long running problem is that apart when a few seats get trashed, Celtic always ready to chastise our fans, refuses to acknowledge wrongdoings of visiting fans.







    Put the family area beside the old Celtic End. Kids should not be subject to the bile dished out by away fans.



    Nor should any of us,btw. But that’s FOCUS for you…




    Absolutely agree mate. Wee NatKnow bursting to go to Celtic Park with me. Aberdeen game seems like a good option but there’s no way I’d take her into the “Family” section to be subject to abuse from the morons. If anyone think I’m just being precious – you’re right. Dead right.

  13. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on

    Celt for life



    I think they are saying that season ticket holders will be the only ones allowed to buy remaining tickets for games against THEM.



    Kinda what they’ve been doing for years for big European games. Give season ticket holders priority for extra tickets. Even though non season ticket holders will end up sitting in these seats anyway.



    Strange & pointless. One of many many things Celtic don’t get right these days.

  14. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on

    I would personally make the whole lower jock Stein stand safe standing.



    Imagine shooting into that in the second half of tight games!!



    Cascades Of Warm Clean Pine-Scented Water…



    Washin’ Doon The Steps O’ The Auld Jungle….



    An’ Complimentary Empty Lager Cans Too…



    So We Kin Re-Live The Back-Tae-The-Sixties Experience….?




    Bring Back Ernie’s Powder Blue Reliant Robins Tae….



    An’ The Wee Confused Ambulanceman Wi’ The Black Hat & Arthur Askey Specs..



    An’ Young Kojo & His Shawland Sharks Heavy Brigade…







  16. Pabloh


    My take on it is:


    My grandsons’ tickets for example. They won’t cover TRFC games. If however, I want them to go to those games, I get first option to buy at concession price.


    If I don’t take up the option to buy, they go for public sale.


    Yes? No?

  17. !!Bada Bing!! on

    To be fair The Club listened and acted on the ‘safe standing’ issue,a bit of fine tuning of the ‘family section’ is necessary.The ‘footprint’ needs to be bigger and more family friendly.I heard the Etihad is very good ,and could be used as a model for it.

  18. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on

    Has there been Martin O’Neil rumours for the managers post? I could see him getting a lot of fans back to parkhead.

  19. NATKNOW on 4TH MAY 2016 12:42 PM



    You don’t need to take kids to the family section though. My kids ST are in NW lower corner Block 143. About as far away from the away fans as you can get.

  20. pabloh_AKA_NEIL LENNON on

    Twists & turns



    Never thought on it that way. You could be on to something there. I always viewed it as Celtic only giving season ticket holders the right to buy big game tickets, and only having a general sale for games that aren’t going to sell out anyway.

  21. No Bobby Does It Petta on

    I thank the invisible man in the sky Paul, that you’re not in charge at the club. Bulldoze the stadium? Good grief. And I would argue that the atmosphere in the “new” Celtic Park is on a different level to anything we ever had at the old Paradise.



    IMHO the standing area should be centre of North Stand Lower – bring back the Jungle !!!



    The single most effective move the club/Scottish football can make to improve attendances is to drastically cut ticket prices. It will never happen, I know, but the product on the park is 50% the value of a ticket. I caught a bit of the German highlights on telly last night, it appeared every game was sold out, even the wee “diddy” teams. I believe German football is a lot cheaper than ours???



    Increase safe standing capacity, drop the pricing, a couple of star players …… the old girl would be full and rocking every week.

  22. WEEMINGER on 4TH MAY 2016 12:49 PM



    NATKNOW on 4TH MAY 2016 12:42 PM



    You don’t need to take kids to the family section though. My kids ST are in NW lower corner Block 143. About as far away from the away fans as you can get.




    LOL! I know mate – my point was just that the Family section is not located in the best place! :-)

  23. !!Bada Bing!! on

    I would like to see a pay at the turnstile option,on a game to game basis,not everyone can afford a Season Ticket.

  24. Allyhuntersgloves on

    Paul, really interesting article on facilities. As a patron of the South Stand, (old guy….) I am frustrated by the lack of facilities, in fact I just wrote to JPT about the price v facilities in the South Stand, a few weeks ago. Outside of hospitality, they are the most expensive seats, yet the facilities are awful. Tiny pie stalls (no Domino’s for us) and toilets that are a disgrace. (I pointed out that there is a poster in the gents of Paul Hartley as a player advertising a reading course called the big plus, Paul Hartley left Celtic in 2009……… )although anyone who frequents the South stand will know the toilets have not been face lifted since we came back in 96. They are disgusting. The result of my complaint? they removed the Paul Hartley poster, (I kid you not).



    I know the South Stand limits, hospitality etc but I would gladly pay a bit extra to go into a lounge before, at half time and after a game, but not the x5 I would need to pay to join “the Executive Club”. I do think Celtic need to do more on basic facilities ( a decent food stall and a toilet with more than 1 Cubical for 4000 people that doesn’t smell like a sewage works would be a great start…………., if they want to charge me top dollar then give us even basic facilities and cleanliness.

  25. Pabloh


    Time will tell ( or someone in the know can tell us)


    Games I saw last season on my season ticket?




    Seriously, every weekend I was up in Scotland there was not a game on at CP on a Saturday.


    Bit of an expensive waste of money really. This year I will try better time management but problem is they shift so many days and times, for TV, it’s difficult.


    A repeat this time around and I probably won’t renew.


    Mind you, my renewal still depends on satisfactory res 12 update in the next 22 days.

  26. Greeting’s Paul67,



    That’s the last time I park my machine at your house!



    Praise the Lawwell!

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