Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Wir sind eine weithin bekannte Glasgow-Fußballmannschaft

If I hear the phrase “dwindling attendances” one more time, I think I’m going to kill somebody.

There is no hiding from the fact that Scottish football, as a product, is failing. This is evident from the dwindling attendances (oops) throughout all of the country’s professional football leagues. Something has to be done. The Old Firm are no longer able to charge their fans funny money to watch world class players, because they don’t have any.

It’s a vicious cycle: teams have no money; teams cannot afford better players; teams’ performances no longer meet their fans’ insane expectations; teams’ fans lose interest; teams have no money.

How do we fix this? Teams aren’t going to reduce ticket prices. This is too much of a gamble. A scheme such as that would require some patience. Chairmen and patience are two words that shouldn’t go together in a sentence. Except that one, right there.

Our own Partick Thistle have allowed children under the age of sixteen to go to games for free. This sounds fantastic but the uptake of this, in all honesty, has been slow. I can’t give a reason for this, but there must be something that is stopping children from going along to watch real, proper, football.

Can we, please, have a little look at what goes on in Germany? Please? I’m not expecting Dunfermline Athletic to suddenly expect an average attendance of over 19,000, matching the Bundesliga’s bottom side, Freiburg. That’s just silly considering the population of Germany compared to Scotland. There must, however, be a reason why such a large percentage of Germany’s 81 million inhabitants go to watch football week in, week out.

I want to find out if there is anything my beloved Partick Thistle can learn from the Germans. I’d love to see Firhill’s crowd grow from 2000 to 4000. I want to help. So, here we go.

“Young Generation Dortmund” is an awful translation. It is, however, an excellent idea. Borussia Dortmund arrange supporters buses for young fans to travel to and from games. The buses are alcohol free and keep the kids away from any trouble with the Ultras. Thistle, what with the business acumen on the board, could set up some sort of partnership with a minibus company and arrange well publicised pick up points around the city to transport Glasgow’s kids to games where they can gain free entry. There are plenty of student teachers and social workers who are looking for voluntary work, get them to chaperone the buses.

FC St Pauli’s “Fanladen” is a group of committed and passionate fans who, amongst other things, are available to help tourists and locals arrange their trips to the Millerntor. The St Pauli board recognise this group of fans and use them as a forum for ideas to take the club forward. Some of the Fanladen’s other initiatives involve producing fanzines (remember them?) more suited to children, which would tie in nicely with the Kids Go Free scheme, and other fanzines targeted at women. They also arrange football tournaments with other fans, something which Thistle have already explored with last year’s successful Firhill Cup. Thistle do have the resources to create a Fanladen within their ranks. We just need willing volunteers.

I wanted to stay away from the obvious in this article, but I think the issue of Biertents and Fanzones has to be addressed. Thistle have, in my opinion, a wonderful facility in the Aitken Suite. This is an area within the ground that both home and away fans can mingle pre and post match, and have a pint. Due to my commitments with the Jagscast, I can no longer visit the Aitken Suite on match days. I do recall that the numbers in the suite were falling. I cannot fully comment on why this was the case. Perhaps an overpriced bar, or a lack of atmosphere? I think the club could relaunch this idea, and inject some life into it to encourage fans to return. Perhaps, and I don’t know how realistic this is, the club could show old footage of games on a screen or two. This would give the fans something to talk about and provide them with a chance to reminisce about games from years ago. We are a club steeped in history and tradition, so why not celebrate it? If the club are keen on selling hospitality packages to more fans, then they could provide the ordinary punter with a taste of the hospitality experience. Why not get Mr. Robert Reid: club historian, or some directors into the Aitken Suite pre and post match to speak to the fans. You could even pipe through some Thistle music through the speakers in the room. All of these suggestions would help to improve the atmosphere, and encourage fans to return to a Fanzone.

The current board at Firhill are a cooperative bunch, and are very happy to hear suggestions from fans. The debates over standing sections and alcohol in the stands have been done to death. I’d like to think that us Jags fans can be a wee bit more inventive and look at other ways to entice fans back to Firhill. Get your thinking caps on. Why bother reinventing the wheel, though. Let us see what works in other countries, like Germany, and see what we can do here.


1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed this article.

    Does not ask too much I don't think, you are not 'demanding' an expensive trial of safe-standing or any other such expensive changes.

    Simple and cost-effective improvements can go a long way, making the fan feel part of some sort of community makes all the difference as opposed to being a walking wallet to be picked.

    Some of these ideas are, as you say, common practice in the Bundesliga and importantly; common practice in 2. Bundesliga where attendances aren't 40,000+

    There is no doubting however that some sort of cost reduction would make a huge difference to entice people back to enjoy these schemes though.

    Will keep an eye out on here if you can post any updates. Viel Gluck!


#poll1 ( display:none;)