Payday Weekend-To Buy Or Not To Buy?
For those of us lucky enough to still be employed-or at the very least furloughed-this will be Payday Weekend. Bringing with it the usual questions,the biggest of which-as always!-is
How to make it last till the next payday!
If you are a Celtic Season Ticket holder,there’s a better than evens chance that you also have a big decision to make,involving a serious outlay before the month is even out. Ticket deadline day is June 30 or Tuesday as all bar around 55,000 lucky people call it. Normally there wouldn’t be a decision to make. Deadline Day instructions drop through-or into-the letterbox,and the lucky fan coughs up in return for his or her seat at Celtic Park. But these are far from normal times,and there are many of those 55,000 who have a decision to make,even at this late stage.
This pandemic has been a disaster for everyone. It has affected us all,and there can be no denying that. Even by official figures,at least 60,000 people have lost their lives from it. The figure is probably higher,simply through statistical analysis of death rates compared to the relevant periods in previous years. A lot more than that have already lost their jobs,and the unemployment figures in,say,a year from now,will be horrific. Most furloughed workers will have lost around 7% of their annual income already,with no guarantees of a bright future for the vast majority of us.
That 7% on an average wage of c£28k is around £2,000. Or three times the cost of the standard ticket.
As I said,decisions will have to be made. And that’s without throwing into the mix a few other problems,mainly to do with a swelling discontent with our board and their dealings with,and attitude towards,the fans.
MAHE mentioned some on Thursday. Let’s start with the refund policy from last season. The terms and conditions of sale left Celtic with no option but to offer a refund for the unused portion of the book. I would suggest that they seriously broke the spirit of that in the manner in which it was offered. A statement on a website. An instruction to print out a form-at a time when few people have access to the office printer! Fill it in and put it in an envelope,attach a stamp. Another few things that the advance of technology has removed from most people’s kitchen drawers.
And wait for a cheque. A what? I honestly can’t remember the last time I received a cheque. That was ripping the piss. On its own,that would be enough for me to question whether I really wanted to continue to buy that ticket-a purchase which for many will be the biggest “single ticket” item they buy all year!
Oh,and don’t forget this wee cracker. The terms and conditions have changed. If you think it was difficult to get a refund this season,let’s hope you never try to get one in the future!
But there are deeper issues that have been causing significant unrest amongst sections of the support,and for some while. There’s the willingness of the club to divulge supporter personal data to the police. The contrasting unwillingness to defend the spurious charges over the years from UEFA,the preference being to blame sections of the fanbase on a divide and conquer strategy,though certain elements like The Green Brigade should also shoulder their share of the blame for some of the above. There’s the profit-over-football mentality,which has seen too many seasons of backsliding on the pitch and in our European coefficient.
There’s a £3m bonus-and that’s on top of a £1m salary package practically every year for over a decade. Good timing,Peter. How about undermining our most successful manager since Jock Stein? I wasn’t happy at BR leaving,none of us were. I reckon having a de facto Director of Football,one who sits on his hands all summer,might be a reason for it though.
The worst of course was the entire Resolution 12 soap opera. Celtic led these guys a merry dance for six years,promising that they would act on all their hard work and evidence. Time after time they were asked for just that little bit more,another i dotted,another t crossed. Or expensive legal justification of the information provided. Celtic cost these guys a FIVE FIGURE SUM,and that doesn’t include the amount of time and effort they put in. And Celtic…
NEVER HAD ANY INTENTION OF PURSUING IT.
Because they knew about their own part in facilitating all of the events and they didn’t want it to come out. But it did,with the publication of a mail on these very pages which proved it. And all of a sudden,the perceived focus of the resolution has somehow changed as a result to holding the Celtic board to account when all along it has been about holding the SFA to account,even via the offered route of taking it to UEFA. Bloody hell…
Aye,there’s a few reasons to say sod it. I know a good few people who have chucked it over the years. I’ve always tried to talk them out of it,and many times I’ve succeeded. Any time a fan gives up his ticket,the club couldn’t give a damn. There’s always someone else who will take it up. It’s like a peashooter against a battleship. But not now.
If you want to make the club realise how important you,as a Season Ticket holder,is to the club,you have the ideal time to do it. Even with cost-cutting and furlough,etc,the club is looking at around £4m losses every month since the start of March. NOW your continued contribution matters! Now is the time to hit them where it hurts,to show your anger at their clear contempt for us over the years. And their full-price season ticket with no refund available despite not being able to attend. Surely a breach of Sale of Goods Act,by the way.
You’ll never have a better chance.
And yet,your timing couldn’t be worse. Because your position of comparative strength comes at a time of potential serious weakness for the club. And although it is because of the pandemic,it isn’t for the reasons that you think. My opinion of Peter Lawwell is well known,it hasn’t altered since I made my first appearance on CQN in 2008-and that only gave me a chance to put into print what I said in public with family and friends. But I’ve always tried to be fair,and I’ve congratulated him when he does something that pleases me. In fact,I’m on record that if he’d stick to what he knows,I wouldn’t have a problem. And one thing I can be sure of is that he renewed the Business Interruption Insurance policy,same as he always has.
It pays to be insured when you are a club like Celtic,one which is loathed and despised by a certain section of society,and for non-footballing reasons. And it certainly pays to have Business Interruption Insurance at the moment!
So why are the club fretting,why not just claim?
Because virtually all such claims have been denied! The problem is so bad,in fact,that the Financial Conduct Authority is taking the situation to court,and there are a number of “Class Action” cases on the matter scheduled too. As soon as a decision is reached,Celtic can put their claim in. If the courts find against the insurance companies,of course.
Yet this is where it gets complicated,and for Celtic,very dangerous. You see,if the insurance companies have to pay out to all their claimants-they can’t! They don’t have the money,and may well be forced into bankruptcy. And that brings a particular danger to Celtic. If their insurer goes bust,they will no longer be able to act on behalf of the club in relation to claims that have already been made or are about to go to court,ones which the insurance company has already agreed falls within the cover. Any such claims are robustly defended by the insurance company-with Celtic not even allowed to comment on them without prior approval as to do so would risk a breach of the insurance cover.
Defending cases in court can easilycost around £300,000 but the insurance companies can usually claim costs against the losing plaintiff. That would leave Celtic having to do the same thing,every time,and hope that each judge is so understanding on the issue of costs. Because it isn’t a given that costs are awarded,it is at the discretion of the presiding judge.
Even worse than the possibility of no costs being awarded is the fly in the ointment. What if there is NEVER any possibility of costs being awarded? Celtic could face a series of unsuccessful claims which have no legal grounds for success where the pursuing legal teams give up only their time to pursue that claim on a no-win,no fee basis. Cost to lawyers and claimant virtually zero. Cost to Celtic,£300k PLUS-EVERY TIME!
And that is a likely result of changes to the law on litigation currently being scheduled in the Scottish Parliament,on course for approval later this year.
The successful defence of any such claims could easily cost the club an eight figure sum in legal fees alone,and with cash resources and income being severely depleted as a result of the coronavirus crisis issues,it is easy to see why some commentators have suggested that it may be necessary for the club to go into the red to meet the financial challenges of the next few years-something which will be completely new territory for us in our recent history.
And something that would be increasingly likely if there is any mass boycott of season tickets at this time.
Now is not the time to show the board who holds the purse strings,it isn’t the time for a show of strength. It’s the time for a show of unity-despite many of us having reservations about other issues,and wanting to bring about changes in the way that things are done,and from the way that they have been done in the past.
“Now is the time to come to the aid of the party!”
Don’t buy your ticket based on what I’ve said. Check everythingout-I wouldn’t be crying wolf here-and make your mind up after that. But get your skates on!
Above article is by BMCUWP,with a lot of professional input from others who have my grateful thanks.