The last blog that I wrote was about the current team and the amazing run of unbeaten domestic results that they have put together.
Today, it’s about how fans are going to continue to get along to the stadium to watch our great team. Some of you might be reading that question and saying that they’ll get there the same way that they have done for years.
Which, for now, is OK. But there is an issue about car parking that has been raised. It appears that someone at Glasgow City Council wants to enforce parking restrictions which would mean that there will be no car parking within a 1 mile radius of Celtic park on match days. It’s not yet clear if that will apply to cars only or if it will also affect supporters buses who are not using the official coach parks at the stadium.
Prior to the Commonwealth Games, some car parking restrictions were put in place and there seems to be no obvious reason for it. At the time, there were notices saying that the restrictions would be in place for the duration of the games. As far as I know, the games are most certainly finished now but the car parking restrictions are still in place.
When I first started going to the games, my Dad used to drive up and park near an old boxing club which was near a car auction site – both are gone now. That was Sydney Street off the Gallowgate. The last time I passed, there was nothing much going on there but nobody is allowed to park their cars there now.
There was a statement from Celtic yesterday which addressed the concern over possible future car parking restrictions. (http://www.celticfc.net/news/12028)
The first thing that is getting me here is why does it matter where people park their cars ? The current stadium has been in place for a number of years and there’s regularly been 60,000 fans going there so why now, does it matter where fans park their cars ?
Is it affecting residents? Are they no longer able to park their cars outside their houses or is it taking them too long to get in and out of the area. Is it now affecting the ability of the emergency services to get to certain parts of the city? Did a fat guy complain because he had to wait longer for a kebab to get delivered to him one night when the football was on?
Really, how much of an inconvenience is it for the local people to have fans parking their cars near the stadium ? Given that we have approx 20 home games per season, even if it is inconvenient, it’s not happening very often.
How much revenue does that generate for the local kids aka parking attendants who do a sterling job of protecting our vehicles from vandals and thieves while we’re at the games? I mean paying a few pound to ensure that you’re tyres, windows, stereos and possessions are safe is a good bargain in my opinion.
Celtic Park is one of the biggest and best football stadiums in Europe and also the most difficult to get to. Unless you get on a bus from the city centre, you’re in for a bit of a walk. The train stations are not very near the stadium. Bellgrove or Bridgeton (or ‘Brigtn’ if you prefer) are still a bit of a walk away.
Compare that to other stadiums over Europe, the Bernabeu for example, has a metro station at it. When the station was built, the corridors were made wider than the other metro stations in the city to accommodate the number of fans that would be using it.
The fact is that public transport is terrible in Scotland so you cannot rely on it to get anywhere on time. If fans, particularly older fans, cannot park their cars near to the stadium, how are they going to get there?
I know a mile isn’t far to most people but I’ve spoken to some fans on Twitter who cannot walk a mile due to medical reasons. While I don’t know the age of fans who are unable to walk that distance, I suspect that the majority will be older which means that they’re probably people who have supported Celtic all of their lives.
What are they supposed to do ? Do they just not bother about going to the games because a person in an office has decided that they don’t want people to park their cars any more?
Based on the statement that I have mentioned earlier on, I am pretty certain that the club will be fighting this and quite right they should as well. I’ve already written about how difficult it is for some fans to buy season tickets because they often don’t know when the game is going to be played.
Some fans have already given up their season tickets because of the lack of Saturday 3pm matches and some more will have to give up their season tickets and lose their enjoyment of going to watch their team if these restrictions are allowed to happen.
I don’t know what the solution is but unless there’s reliable transport to Celtic Park, we’re going to see some supporters inconvenienced and we’re going to lose others.