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Wednesday 29th May 2024

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Southwick: Celtic are guilty of breathtaking arrogance in Pittodrie ticket row


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BACK in the days when mortgage payments were problems only the adults in the family had to contend with and season tickets were affordable, I received a letter from Celtic.

 

It was a small leaflet welcoming me, as an Aberdeen fan, to Celtic Park for the coming season.

 

This was no mistake, they had not sent the letter in error.

 

Within the leaflet the late Tommy Burns explained that he felt the atmosphere at Celtic games was always enhanced when there was a strong away support, and that he hoped other supporters would come and back their team in Glasgow from the away end.

 

This was sent to all opposition season ticket holders. I thought it was a brilliant piece of marketing, and I happily took Mr Burns up on his offer to watch the Dons lose both away games against his side that season.

 

In those days Celtic were challenging Rangers, they were building a new stadium and getting themselves back on their feet. Celtic fans more than any should appreciate the increased demand for tickets when your club starts to taste success again.

 

Earlier this season, Aberdeen raised eyebrows when they cut Celtic's ticket allocation for Pittodrie, going from 3800 to 2000.

 

It was a perfectly justifiable move.

 

For years, with the team saving the worst of their mediocrity for games against Celtic, you couldn't give the tickets away and therefore it made perfect sense to give the visiting support a vast chunk of tickets.

 

However, when demand increases from your own fans, of course you are going to try and sell as many as you can to them first, which Aberdeen did this season.

 

It takes an astonishing level of arrogance to suggest no longer being handed 20% of the available tickets is somehow a slight to your club and your support, and that Celtic should be entitled to tickets for an Aberdeen home game ahead of the club's own fans.

 

To reason that view with claims of glory-hunting, and questioning where these Aberdeen fans have been for years, is laughable when Celtic have won 20 major trophies between Aberdeen's last two League Cup wins.

 

The Bhoys aren't selling out games at the moment due to boredom at winning the league, yet expect Aberdeen fans to flock to the stadium to fill it when they're finishing 8th three years in a row.

 

Shock horror, more fans are enticed to the ground now that the standard is improving and the team is worth watching. This phenomenon is not unique to the North-East of Scotland.

 

Many would look at Aberdeen's crowds over the years and actually feel the numbers they have taken all over the country was more deserving than successive teams of the past were due, and in fact the Red Army have shown a level of loyalty unmatched by most.

 

Now, with Aberdeen heading to Celtic Park on March 1 for a rare top of the table clash, the likelihood of a letter arriving from Ronny Deila and Peter Lawwell encouraging Aberdeen fans to the game is nil to none.

 

Going by recent Celtic home games, there could be as many as 20,000 empty seats at what is the biggest league fixture of the season for both clubs.

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