This season has seen the introduction of Celtic and Rangers B teams to the Scottish Lowland League. After failing to sweet-talk their way into the top 4 leagues of the pyramid the Glasgow sides turned their sights on the 5th tier. Large sums of money were offered so that secondary sides were accepted to compete in the Scottish football pyramid for the first time.

Many questions were asked and arguments put forward to justify or oppose the B teams’ addition to the football pyramid. But after participation, we have some clear evidence on if it has been a good or bad decision.

One argument posited that B sides would increase attendances whereas those who refuted this stance said there was little interest.

So, what has actually happened in practice?

Figure aren’t the easiest to come by in the Lowland League, so a massive thank you to Ryan Kelly who I found via Pie and Bovril. He keeps a brilliant record on attendance figures as well as the history of lower league football in Scotland. The collection of historic data is truly fascinating with league tables as far back as 1892 for regional leagues.

Celtic Way:

In terms of people turning up to games, paying for tickets and then amenities at games the B teams have been a positive factor for the Lowland League thus far. Larger attendances will allow these smaller sides to generate more revenue and get more eyes on the 5th tier which could also increase sponsorship income.

These sample sizes are fairly small and attendances at this level are highly dependent on factors such as weather, time of day and if the first team are playing on the same day. The data was also collected around the beginning of December so may have changed slightly since then.

Both Celtic and Rangers sit comfortably above the league's average attendance of 186 with Celtic at 317 or 70% above and Rangers at 505 or 172% greater.

Rangers have done a better job at getting fans engaged with the B team games with higher attendances both home and away. This may come from a larger social media presence for the secondary side. A quick look at Twitter has the Rangers academy account on over 80 thousand followers with the Celtic account on around 20 thousand.

The obvious reason behind this disparity is the launch dates of the accounts with Celtic launching in July 2021 while Rangers set up theirs all the way back in 2011. This increased level of engagement has likely helped the Rangers B side to boost numbers.

Lowland attendance figures are good but how does it compare to League 1 and 2 in the national pyramid? 

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Data for these leagues is sourced from Transfermarkt. The B sides would fit in fairly well into league 2 based on attendances with the average being 416 so far this season. Quite a bit smaller than Rangers but still above the Celtic B side.

Although you would expect in a higher division for B team attendances to increase with a better-quality product on offer. If we step up again to League 1 and remove Falkirk who are a huge outlier for the league. The average from the other nine sides is 600.

Rangers B wouldn’t even have the lowest attendance in this league despite appearing two tiers below.

All of the data collected is likely to get skewed as the B team Glasgow derby approaches which is set to take place at Ibrox. I would guess this will break the attendance record for the Lowland League although it isn’t directly benefitting the other sides.

If this match is successful at generating large income perhaps the lowland sides could find a way to take advantage of the derby when negotiating the B team league entry next season.

Overall, in terms of attendance, the B teams have been a success so far providing more spectators and engagement around games in the Lowland League.

The big positive going forward is there is massive scope to improve attendance figures further if Celtic can get creative.