Sell Out Saturday: The Result

Written by Andrew Southwick.

By Andrew Southwick:
 
So the tally is in. 45,269 was our target. The combined crowds of the five games were 40,383. We were not actually too far away, but perhaps we've continued the Scottish trend of glorious failure.
 
It didn't matter how successful or unsuccesful 'Sell Out Saturday' was, there was always going to be a long queue of people waiting to sneer. If every ground had sold out, don't think for a minute there wouldn't still have been negative voices. "It'll never last", "Why can't you do that every week?", "It's aimed at Rangers" and probably some more of the warped bitterness and paranoia that so often tears this country apart.

It seemed Rangers fans were determined to be offended at the initiative, even though they had no need to be. Groups of fans trying to increase their own crowd is perceived as anti-Rangers? Only in Scotland.

Reports suggested it was dreamed up to show Scottish football doesn't need Rangers, and from that they took it as a slap to the face and decided to go on the attack.

In reality, the aim of Clyde fan Jim Thornton - who originally launched 'Sell Out Saturday' on this very website - was to showcase the rest of the SPL and Scottish football. To show that clubs can stand on their own two feet, be attractive, and be a sellable product to fans. There's nothing negative in that. Believe it or not some of us love our club and love our football and we want to see Scottish football survive the supposed armegeddon that's on the horizon.

The doomsayers got their wish though. None of the games sold out, and therefore it was in their eyes a failure. They can laugh as loud as they want - people who were never going to get involved in the first place were not the targets of the campaign.
 
Easter Road failed to attract more than 13,000 for Sunday's Edinburgh derby
 
The surprise though comes from many of the media. Now, many backed it, saw the positives and benefits to our clubs, and the intelligent minds in this country wanted it to be a success. Credit to those writers and broadcasters who added their voice.

However, shame on those who knew about the campaign, sat back and did little to support it, but then couldn't get on their twitters quick enough to mock the result.

One comment on Saturday night said they thought "it was a shame grounds didn't sell out after all the campaigning." The campaigning certainly didn't come from that journalist or the paper he writes for. The campaigning came from ourselves and the football forums. Another one said "it needed more promotion", this after refusing to even acknowledge the existence of the campaign all week.

We don't claim to have a huge influence in Scottish football. The fact #selloutsaturday went from an article on this site all the way to being the word on everyone's lips was great, but The Away End alone couldn't make it a success, but it did feel like it was left to us and the fans themselves to spread the word.

We have 4500 followers on twitter. That's only 10% of the minimum target we'd aimed for at the weekend. We could only do so much. We were begging for others with much more influence than we'll ever have to push the campaign to another level. Instead they're scratching their heads asking why it didn't work.

How can Sky Sports for one post the crowd figures and mock the numbers when they've helped do their best to make attending games in this country as difficult as possible? If they were paying more money to screen the games ticket prices might be lower, if they hadn't spent the summer in silence refusing to confirm if they were pulling out of Scottish football or not then clubs may have been able to make more signings, and if they weren't putting games on at lunchtime more fans would be able to make it along.

Craig Burley, getting paid to do a dream job on ESPN, when told by commentator Derek Rae during the Hibs-Hearts commentary he'd get the chance to improve his geography with a trip to Dingwall soon, he miserably scoffed "I hope not." Minutes later he predictably put his own boot into 'Sell Out Saturday'. That's the negativity we're up against.
 
We could have badgered everyone to get involved, we didn't because it's their choice to get involved or not. But I'll defend the campaign when others who could have helped want to ask why a collection of websites and football forums didn't manage to fill all the grounds in the SPL.

As it goes, it wasn't a failure. We fell short of the fairly ambitious target of 45,269, but as we said on Friday, "this is where it begins." And the road to success is being laid.

This time last year, Aberdeen hosted Inverness Caledonian Thistle and posted a crowd of 7,989. A year on, an official crowd of 14,010 came through the doors for the Ross County match.

So, 6,000 extra on the gate. Hardly a massive failure. It would probably have been more if Aberdeen hadn't also sold 21,000 tickets for a game four days later as Manchester United visit to honour Neil Simpson. Essentially that's over 35,000 tickets sold by the Pittodrie ticket office these past few weeks.
 
The long term success will be measured by Aberdeen's average crowd at the end of the season. With over 7,000 season tickets already sold, and a squad that at least looks capable of making the top six, Aberdeen should increase their average crowd. If they didn't sell out v Ross County, they'll certainly have Pittodrie packed on Tuesday, and having already sold-out their allocation of tickets for Parkhead last week they'll repeat that feet at many grounds this season.

Another club who heavily backed Sell Out Saturday was Partick Thistle, where 3,487 came through the gates at Firhill, generously up on last season's average of 2,345. It's no coincidence the two clubs whose supports were spreading the word amongst their fans saw the best response.

So it didn't happen for the rest. Motherwell v St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Kilmarnock actually saw a drop from previous fixtures, while many Hibs fans couldn't stomach the thought of an Edinburgh derby so soon after the cup final.
 
Here at The Away End  we saw enough positives to back it again. If Aberdeen and Partick Thistle can campaign amongst fans and get supporters mobilised simply through the power of the internet, then why couldn't other clubs join the bangwagon next time?

And therefore ladies and gentlemen, we'll be back on January 2nd with #selloutwednesday.

Hearts v Hibs
Ross County v Inverness CT
Aberdeen v Dundee Utd
St Johnstone v Dundee
St Mirren v Kilmarnock
Celtic v Motherwell

Derby day in Scotland. Why not go for it again?

Of course, as we stated on Friday, it's not just about selling out a game, it's what you want it to be.

For us it wasn't about individual crowds, it was about getting fans back more regularly. For that to work clubs have to do their bit, and the ticket pricing in Scotland remains far too expensive, while the current set-up of 12 teams and playing each other four times a season doesn't help either.

However it's days like 'Sell Out Saturday' and 'Sell Out Wednesday' that attract lapsed fans to come along. Sell Out Saturday was ambitious and, outwith Pittodrie and Firhill, didn't catch the imagination of all fans for whatever reason. Inverness CT v Kilmarnock is a harder product to sell than we thought, and Motherwell v St Johnstone maybe doesn't feel exciting when both clubs have just returned from European competition.

We can sit here, say it didn't work, and join in the many who took the easy route of only getting #selloutsaturday trending after the event, or we lick our wounds, see the potential in the campaign, and try again to make a difference.

We'll do it differently this time. We'll listen to your ideas. We'll talk to the clubs and see how we can work with them.
 
The average crowd for non-old firm clubs in the SPL last season was 6,261. Last weekend it was 7,149. This week, despite falling short of our target, it was 8,077. 
 
To put that into perspective, if that level was kept up then even including all the top teams in these leagues, an average of 8,077 is more than Greece and Sweden, and on a par with Ukraine, Austria and Denmark.
 
There's life in Scottish football yet. Get involved, we can't do it ourselves.
 
www.twitter.com/a_southwick
www.twitter.com/theawayend
 
A Selection of photos from around the grounds on Sell Out Saturday
 
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Comments  

 
+4 # Edward Dunne 2012-08-12 15:25
Great work. From small acorns etc. etc. Do not let the apathy of the MSM or the gloating of the followers of MERCENARY FC. stop what you have started. The gloating over percieved failure is to be expected from the great unwashed. The unwillingness of the MSM in general and some individual sports journalists in particular in Scotland to get behind this and any other campaign that tries to promote the future of the game in our country is down right unacceptable. However these people need bad news to ensure their miserable existence. I look forward to participating in #selloutwednesd ay.
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+6 # Ecojoe 2012-08-12 15:55
Like many I was pretty much priced out of going to football matches. However, Sellout Saturday is a great idea with fans promoting the game themselves. it has been only one week so do not despair. This year has highlighted the deplorable attitude of Scottish press not just the sports sections either. We all moan about them, but still we spend our money buying their rags – basically everyone supporting them to pretty much support only one Scottish team. I wonder how quickly shareholders would react if every day and every weekend these same 40,000 Scottish football supporters who turned out for Sellout Saturday stopped buying their biased opinions disguised as "News". We have more power than we realise – the pound in our pockets is what they are all after.
I enjoyed going to football matches and have gotten out of the habit due to being skint. I am a wee bit better off now so will try to get along to some games this season, if only to support Scottish football as a whole. Maybe I'll get back into the habit again, eh?.
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+11 # Andrew 2012-08-12 16:41
Firstly, I don't really see what the need for Rangers to be mentioned in this article is. It actually cheapens your argument about the positive reasons for running with the sellout Saturday plan. Why recognise anyone who tries to demean the point of sellout Saturday?

I'm a Rangers fan and I wanted sellout Saturday to be a success. Only a fool should want Scottish football to implode, indeed, what would be attractive about Rangers returning to an SPL in (hopefully) 3 seasons time that is on its death bed? Not all Rangers fans (in fact very few I've discussed this with) want to see the SPL and sellout Saturday crash and burn, yet your article sees us as fans completely branded as intent on being offended by this initiative. Which is untrue.
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+6 # Editor 2012-08-12 17:28
Fair point Andrew. It wasn't meant to sound like that, but from the comments we received on twitter, and the numerous threads on Follow Follow and Rangers Media, it was obvious a very large amount of Rangers fans were begging for this to fail.

Of course though I can accept that is only a section of the whole support.
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-4 # New Puritan 2012-08-13 04:54
Fair play to the lad at Clyde, and to the writer of the article, if their intentions are honourable. Those of lot of others' - those who, like Mr 'Rave On' Richard Dunne, refer to Rangers in derogatory terms - clearly are not, and it is equally insulting, or perhaps just plain ignorant, to think that the hatred shown Rangers fans by the self-proclaimed champions of sporting integrity - interesting to note the anguish of SPL chairmen when Rangers insisted that it must be upheld and the club demoted to Division 3, but that's another story (that probably won't be told by the incompetent or agenda-driven meeja in the Best Wee Country in the World) - won't be returned.

Whatever, Rangers attracted as many punters to a Harry Ramsden's Cup tie midweek as the SPL did to a much-promoted Saturday. That, unlike 'The Best Wee Country in the World', isn't a statement made out of arrogance; it's just factual.
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0 # Aberdeen83 2012-08-13 12:57
Funny you accuse other supporters of "hatred" when Rangers' raison d'etre" is to hate. Hope the supporters of your new club are less spiteful, although somehow I doubt it. You, after, all the People, or so you keep telling us.
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+3 # New Puritan 2012-08-13 13:47
Quoting Aberdeen83:
Funny you accuse other supporters of "hatred" when Rangers' raison d'etre" is to hate. Hope the supporters of your new club are less spiteful, although somehow I doubt it. You, after, all the People, or so you keep telling us.


Rangers' raison d'être is to hate? Nah, really, it isn't. I do concede, though, that there's a touch of frustration at the inaccurate portrayal of the club. I guess some just cant afford to let Rangers move on, less it invalidate their own prejudices.

However, as others have rightly said, if SOS is not in reaction to the loss of Rangers and the money they brought to the SPL, then let's not be talking about talking them here.

Good to hear, by the way, that Neil Simpson will get a good crowd for his testimonial. When working in Aberdeen a few pages back in the diary, I was in his company a couple of times and found him to be a humble individual, happy to talk favourably about opponents - including those that we ought not to be talking about.
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+3 # Jonny Smith 2012-08-15 12:58
[quote name="New PuritanWhatever , Rangers attracted as many punters to a Harry Ramsden's Cup tie midweek as the SPL did to a much-promoted Saturday. That, unlike 'The Best Wee Country in the World', isn't a statement made out of arrogance; it's just factual.

Erm, it certainly isn't factual.

Try remembering what competition you're playing in next time.
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-3 # New Puritan 2012-08-16 02:58
Quoting Jonny Smith:
[quote name="New PuritanWhatever , Rangers attracted as many punters to a Harry Ramsden's Cup tie midweek as the SPL did to a much-promoted Saturday. That, unlike 'The Best Wee Country in the World', isn't a statement made out of arrogance; it's just factual.


Erm, it certainly isn't factual.

Try remembering what competition you're playing in next time.

Apologies. Whether it's in the Ramsdens or the SCL Cup, the punters are rolling up to watch Rangers. Maybe I should apologise for that, too. And for Ian Black having the temerity to turn out for his country last night. Rangers forever - forever in the wrong, eh?
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+4 # Jarvis 2012-08-13 12:50
Good article Andrew.

For once, I'd agree with a Rangers fan (the other Andrew above) and state that this would best be publicised and commented on without reference to them. It simply attracts unwanted negativity.

I'd also not look for support from the TV broadcasters. Though they want a good product, I'm not convinced that a full stadium is in their interest. They want supporters watching from home/pub to maintain their revenues. A look at some of the attendances of lower-table EPL games shows that full stadia is not a key requirement for them, even for their prestige event. Compare this with the NFL, where local TV blackouts are commonplace, to ensure supporters will attend as opposed to watch from home.

I would point out though that whereas this article is focusing on the SPL, there were concurrent campaigns to get people out to SFL games. A number of us went to Starks Park, where there were Celtic and Dundee United supporters clearly visible amongst the other fans as a result of Turnbull Hutton inviting visiting supporters to show their allegiance, but sadly a relatively low attendance compared to the average, largely due to an almost complete lack of away supporters. A number of Celtic fans were also at Firhill whilst the team was in America, where there was an attendance of 3,487 compared to a 10/11 average of 2,024.

Perhaps it would be better to include the SFL teams, to ensure that when this is the best local option for someone who wants to attend but cannot travel to an SPL ground, their valid and positive contribution to the cause to be grouped into the results post-event and not missed.

Finally, from the experience of Saturday, it is clear from the success of the Aberdeen example that the onus on publicising falls on the fans of the teams (home and away) on a game-by-game basis. The impact of social media sites will be very limited. It's the local press across the country who would be the most effective mechanism to get this to the right audience. If the supporters of each team proactively lead the campaign then the local media will report on it positively.
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+3 # pat 2012-08-13 13:15
Whether you like Neil Lennon or not he had it spot on with his comment - and I'm paraphrasing as I can't find the quote - that there are people who are making a living off the game in Scotland but only ever bring negativity to the table.

There's too many to mention but there are lot of sour faced bores in the Scottish press who never say anything positive about Scottish football and run it down at almost every opportunity.
It's interesting that you pick out Burley in the article as he is pretty much the perfect example of what is described above.

On the topics of the article itself, the "Get involved, we can't do it ourselves" line particularly stands out. If we've learnt anything in recent months its that we the fans do still have a say in the direction Scottish football is going. The renewed enthusiasm to improve the game is very encouraging and the more we stick to this line the more of an irrelevance the parasites will become.

Good stuff Andrew Southwick.
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-4 # sam 2012-08-16 21:05
i would just like to say we are the people,our brothers at the sfa,spl and other clubs will all welcome us back to the spl next year.masons rule this country like it or not and we have even be let to keep our 54 and counting titles so put up and shut up ,when next year our warchest is overflowing wee will remember the clubs who wee should have paid ha ha and give them some stick not money you scroungers
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-4 # New Puritan 2012-08-17 01:32
Quoting sam:
i would just like to say we are the people,our brothers at the sfa,spl and other clubs will all welcome us back to the spl next year.masons rule this country like it or not and we have even be let to keep our 54 and counting titles so put up and shut up ,when next year our warchest is overflowing wee will remember the clubs who wee should have paid ha ha and give them some stick not money you scroungers


But, given their support in media and political circles, not to mention Regan being in Lawell's pocket, Celtic are the Establishment club. And they'll continue to try to cripple not just Rangers but Scottish football to aid their attempts to get into an English or Dutch or whatever league.
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