Monday, December 23, 2013

Ban on flags at Celtic's first away match since Motherwell riot

Flags and banners have been banned from Celtic’s Boxing Day tie against St Johnstone over fears about smoke bombs and flares being let off.
The Perth club confirmed the ban had been agreed with the Parkhead side and Police Scotland, which comes after seats were destroyed and smoke bombs let off by Celtic supporters during a recent match against Motherwell.
St Johnstone stated the decision had been made to ensure the 3pm Scottish Premiership game is "played in a safe environment which can be enjoyed by everyone."
It said the move was in response to "a significant increase in the letting off of flares, smoke bombs and other pyrotechnics at games across the country this season."
Police Scotland match commander Superintendent Kevin Lynch said: "We welcome both sets of supporters for what we are sure will be an excellent sporting event. We hope that they all enjoy themselves and we will be there to help keep them safe.
"The police and both clubs expect everyone to enjoy the occasion in the right way and abide by the law, as well as the ground regulations. We will be on hand to assist them where required and, where necessary, to deal effectively with anyone who is involved in disorder or other criminal behaviour.
"Those attending the game, as well as the local community, can rest assured that we will deal effectively with any incidents and put offenders before the courts. That could mean a spell in custody for offenders at a time when I am sure they would prefer to be with friends and family. So please come along and enjoy the game in the right way."
A statement released on the St Johnstone website stated: "As part of the planning process between the police, St Johnstone FC, Celtic FC and other agencies, a decision has been taken that flags and banners will not be permitted inside McDiarmid Park stadium for this game. Fans are asked to be considerate of this requirement in the interest of their own safety and the safety of others."
It also said police will carry out "stop checks carried out on supporters’ buses en route to the game."
Superintendent Lynch added: ‘"We look forward to an entertaining afternoon and hope that everyone who attends enjoys the contest between the sides in a good-natured and enthusiastic way where everyone is safe and remembers the game for all the right reasons."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Police used CS gas to halt Celtic fans UEFA Champions Leauge riot

Police have been cleared of using CS gas to deal with rival football fans fighting on the day of Celtic’s Champions League clash with Ajax in Glasgow.
The incident outside a pub close to Bridgeton Railway Station in the city’s east end involved a group of more than 15 rival football supporters.
The men ignored repeated warnings from officers from British Transport Police (BTP), including warnings that CS gas would be used if they did not stop fighting.
One of the officers discharged the spray to which the men dispersed and stopped fighting.
It was one incident on a day where fan trouble was reported in parts of the city as the Dutch team travelled to Glasgow for a Champion’s League match with Celtic.
An independent investigation by the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has found the BTP officer was justified in using the spray when dealing with the violent clash after the match.
The incident happened near a pub in the Bridgeton area of the city on October 22, the day of a Celtic v Ajax game.
In his report into the incident, commissioner Professor John McNeill said the two officers who were outnumbered by fighting fans had handled a violent situation professionally.
He added the use of the spray by one of the officers was proportionate and justified.
Professor McNeill said: “I am satisfied that the officers managed the incident professionally. Had the officer not used the Captor spray, there is a likelihood that the situation would have continued to escalate and place those involved, members of the public and police officers at risk.
“I have however recommended to British Transport Police that the procedures for using the spray in areas aside from railway premises should be updated to ensure that officers have clear instruction and guidance on using Captor Spray in areas aside from railway station concourses, platforms and tracks, namely near or on public roads, where their officers are sometimes deployed.”
Following the discharge of any police firearm, the BTP referred the matter to the PIRC for independent investigation.
PIRC investigators visited the scene, reviewed relevant documents and procedures, read statements from the police officers involved, viewed CCTV footage, and listened to airwave transmissions.
A BTP spokesman said: "We have received the report and note its findings."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Seven Celtic fans face trial over support of the IRA at Celtic Park

Paul Duke, 37, Ross Gallagher, 29, Christopher Bateman, 28, David Gallacher, 22, Sean Cowden, 21, Kieran Duffy, 18 and Greg Robertson, 28, have all appeared in court charged with the offence.
The seven men are alleged to have behaved in a way that "is likely or would be likely to incite public disorder" by singing a song in support of the Irish Republic Army (IRA) at Celtic Park.
All pled not guilty when they appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court, represented by Paul Kavanagh and a trial was set for next June.
Duke and Gallagher, from East Kilbride, Bateman, from Irvine, Gallacher, from Glasgow, Cowden from Rutherglen and Duffy from Coatbridge, are accused of singing the song, the Roll of Honour, at the champions league qualifier match against Elfsporg match on July 31.
Gallagher, Bateman and Robertson, from Glasgow, are accused of singing the song on August 3, at the first game of the season against Ross County.
Robertson faces a further charge, with Gallacher, of singing at a home game on August 24, against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Celtic punished by UEFA for Terrorist banner

Celtic have been fined 50,000 euro for a banner unfurled by the Green Brigade before their Champions League match against AC Milan,

The banner, which was reported to UEFA, featured a picture of William Wallace alongside hunger striker Bobby Sands which included a statement “the terrorist or the dreamer”.

UEFA’s control and disciplinary body met today to issue the penalty, which equates to £42,000, following a series of delays due to a “backlog” of cases. A statement on the club’s website today confirmed the penalty.

It read: “Clearly it is extremely disappointing that the Club must pay another sizeable penalty following the actions of a small minority, particularly given the previous assurances which were made to the Club and the widespread understanding of the likely outcome of such actions.

“Regrettably, due to previous charges being brought against the Club, again following the actions of a small minority, the fines imposed by UEFA are increasing in scale.

“It goes without saying that such actions must stop now, before the Club receives a competitive sanction or one which would affect our supporters attending European matches.

“We are Celtic supporters and we must now move on and look ahead to tomorrow’s match against Hibernian. We are sure our fans will come together, unite with the Club and support the team with the commitment and passion we are famous for, ensuring that Celtic Park once again provides a positive footballing occasion for all.”

Celtic were fined £4200 by UEFA earlier this season after their supporters set off fireworks in a Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville. They were also fined £21,000 18 months ago after fans unfurled a banner before a Europa League tie at Udinese that read: “F*** UEFA.”

It came shortly after Celtic were found guilty by UEFA of “illicit chanting” by their fans during the Europa League match at home to Rennes and fined £12,700.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Celtic fans arrested for Motherwell riot

Five people have been arrested in connection with crowd trouble at the Motherwell v Celtic game last week

A reported £10,000 of damage was caused to seats in a section housing Celtic fans, a flare was let off in the same area before the game and two green smoke bombs were thrown on to the pitch during the match at Fir Park stadium on Friday.

Celtic said they were ''appalled'' by the actions and issued precautionary suspensions to 128 supporters preventing them from attending home and away matches, while 250 season-ticket holders seated in the Green Brigade's corner of Celtic Park are to be moved to other parts of the ground.

Police said 18 smoke bombs, three fireworks and one flare were set off.

There were also disturbances and vandalism in Motherwell both before and after the game.

Officers said five people were arrested in connection with the disorder on Monday and inquiries are continuing.

FIVE Celtic fans have been arrested following shameful vandalism

FIVE Celtic fans have been arrested following shameful vandalism and flare-throwing at Motherwell last Friday night.
Celts chiefs suspended 128 supporters and relocated 250 season-ticket holders after dozens of seats were damaged during their 5-0 victory.
Police Scotland have now confirmed the first arrests were made on Monday.
The hooliganism was the latest in a string of incidents involving fans in the Green Brigade group.
Celtic were due to discover yesterday what action they face over an “illicit” banner displayed during their clash with AC Milan but they will now find out tomorrow.
Meanwhile, a teenager has appeared in court charged with throwing a flare on to the pitch during a Scottish Cup clash between Falkirk and Rangers on November 30.

Five Celtic fans arrested after disturbances at Motherwell's Fir Park

Five Celtic fans have been arrested after seats were destroyed and smoke bombs, fireworks and flares set off during the club’s game against Motherwell.
The damage was caused at Fir Park during the match on Friday, with seats in the south stand pulled out.
Officers said 18 smoke bombs, three fireworks and one flare were set off.
There were also disturbances and vandalism in Motherwell both before and after the game.
Police Scotland have since arrested five people in connection with the disturbances and are trawling through CCTV as they try and indentify other people.
In response to the disorder, Celtic have temporarily banned 128 fans and have announced they are to break up the Green Brigade section at Parkhead.

The match saw Celtic defeat Motherwell 5-0.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Police confident of arresting Celtic supporters following Fir Park disorder

Police expect to make "a number of arrests" in relation to the disorder at Motherwell's Fir Park during last Friday's match against Celtic. 

Celtic suspended 128 fans from their games and relocated 250 season-ticket holders following damage caused to seats. 

Smoke bombs and flares were also thrown during Celtic's 5-0 success. 

Superintendent Stephen McAllister said: "Clearly, Police Scotland are very concerned about the vandalism we saw." 

Assistant manager Johan Mjallby insists Celtic had to take firm action against the fans whose behaviour marred last Friday's win.
"I don't think it left the club with any other option but to suspend some fans," said Mjallby. 

The Scottish Professional Football League described the scenes at Fir Park as "shameful" and promised an investigation once it receives its match delegate's report. 

The precautionary suspensions imposed on fans will cover matches away from home as well as at Celtic Park. 

The club statement added: "These events were an embarrassment to our great football club and are absolutely indefensible." 

Talking on Celtic's departure for Barcelona on Champions League duty, Mjallby added: "It is very unfortunate what happened. 

"You don't want to have mayhem, you can't have this disruption inside sports grounds so we have to get together to support the club in the best way. 

"It is a distraction I don't like to see because I like to work with the players. 

"The club has reacted in the best way." 

Supt McAllister, of the Football Coordination Unit for Scotland, added: "We fully expect to make a number of arrests next week in relation to those individuals that were involved in that disorder and carried out acts of vandalism within Fir Park." 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celtic bosses slam ‘embarrassing’ hooligans

RAGING Celtic chiefs last night branded yobs who went on a £10,000 wrecking spree an embarrassment to the club — as they red-carded more than 100 fans.

Hoops bosses took the hardline stance after being outraged by the thugs’ behaviour at Motherwell’s Fir Park on Friday night.
The vandals smashed seats, let off smoke bombs and scrawled IRA graffiti, as well as abuse aimed at chief exec Peter Lawwell.
And last night a spokesman for the club said: “Events such as these do not represent the Celtic support or the club. These events were an embarrassment to our football club and are absolutely indefensible.”
The Green

Brigade — who gather in section 111 of Celtic Park — insisted the fans involved were not their members.
But furious Parkhead chiefs have now banned 128 supporters from all of the club’s matches while they probe the mayhem.
Another 250 season ticket holders will be kicked out of the section used by the self-styled ultras.

A Celtic spokesman confirmed the club — who are footing the bill for the damage — had issued “precautionary suspensions against 128 individuals” following the shocking scenes at Fir Park.
He added: “These suspensions will cover matches at Celtic Park and away matches.
“In addition, the club will be relocating around 250 season book holders in Section 111 to other areas within the stadium, or offering refunds covering the remainder of the season to those who do not wish to be relocated.”
Celtic chiefs have launched their own probe into the vandalism and Police Scotland are also investigating.
Hoops bosses have already given the ultras — who claim to add atmosphere — one reprieve this year after reversing a decision to shut section 111 over complaints about safety breaches. A source said: “Celtic have identified individuals involved and those people face indefinite bans from attending games home and away.”
Officials from Celtic and Motherwell worked together before the game to ensure the ultras were given seats together in front of the stadium’s police control room.
But the plan failed when the fans moved into seats in the lower section of the South Stand, forcing other supporters to sit elsewhere.
A source added: “The club has been told of incidents involving good, honest supporters being effectively bullied out of the seats they should have been sitting in. It’s totally unacceptable.”
Last night Celtic fans flooded Twitter with posts about the club’s moves to smash the Green Brigade.
Peter Smith tweeted: “Glad the Green Brigade are gone. Been too long they’ve thought they were bigger than the club.”
Shaun Nicol wrote: “Always been a fan of the Green Brigade, but vandalising a ground after what Ajax did at our ground is embarrassing.”
And Thomas Gourlay also tweeted: “Take my hat off to Celtic in banning the Green Brigade. Never thought I’d see the day.”
But other supporters slammed the decision to crack down on the group.
Lewis McDonald wrote: “Can’t believe the Green Brigade are disbanded. Ridiculous decision from the board, maybe Lawwell is going to make the atmosphere himself.”
And Joe Donaghy tweeted: “Fully behind the Green Brigade, least they go and create an atmosphere, all this in-fighting over a few seats.”
The Green Brigade insists none of its members were involved in the shameful scenes, but admitted they happened in an “unofficial” area linked to their group.
In an earlier statement, they said: “We accept the fact these actions took place behind our banner in what was an unofficial ‘Green Brigade section’ and furthermore that the fans within this area are associated to our group whether they are members or not.”
Scottish league chief Neil Doncaster last night slammed the rogue element of the Celtic support. He said: “This type of behaviour has no place in the game.
“We are confident the police and both clubs will play a full part in helping to identify those involved in what were shameful scenes.”
In April, the Green Brigade took part in a demonstration as part of Fans Against Criminalisation — a protest over the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act. And they were blasted for unfurling banners comparing IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands to William Wallace at a Champions League match last month.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Violence in any form is unacceptable and we cannot allow a small minority to ruin games for the well-behaved majority.
“Our law enforcement agencies have a range of disposals available to deal with such individuals — including banning them from games for up to ten years. We have also established the National Football Policing Unit which was funded with an investment of £1.8million and has been deployed at over 300 games so far.”

Monday, December 9, 2013

128 Celtic fans banned after violence

Celtic have temporarily banned 128 fans and have announced they are to break up the Green Brigade section at Parkhead.
In a statement, the club announced the action following the behaviour of fans during Friday night's Scottish Premiership away match at Motherwell, during which seats were ripped out and smoke bombs were thrown onto the playing surface.
After the SPFL condemned the "shameful scenes", Celtic have now moved to take action against those they deem responsible.
A total of 250 season ticket holders located in Section 111, where the Green Brigade are located at Celtic Park, will be moved elsewhere inside the stadium.
In addition, 128 fans have been banned pending investigation by the club and won't be permitted to attend Celtic matches either at home or away.
A statement from the club read: "Following events on Friday evening at Fir Park Stadium, Celtic Football Club today announced that it has issued precautionary suspensions against 128 individuals preventing them attending matches involving Celtic, pending further investigation. These suspensions will cover matches at Celtic Park and away matches.
"In addition, the club will be relocating around 250 season book holders in Section 111 to other areas within the stadium, or offering refunds covering the remainder of the season to those who do not wish to be relocated.
"Events such as those on Friday night do not represent the Celtic support or the club. These events were an embarrassment to our great football club and are absolutely indefensible.
"It is clear that there is an element which has no hesitation in bringing Celtic’s name into disrepute. This is something the club will not tolerate and we therefore have no other option but to take this action.
"We will not allow the great name of Celtic to be damaged in this way any more - our supporters deserve more than this.
"While recent events are very regrettable, we would like to thank our many thousands of fans for the wonderful, positive backing which they continue to give to Celtic. We are sure these supporters will understand the position which the club is in and we are also sure they will unite with the club as we move forward.
"Celtic Football Club is in excellent shape on and off the field. The club is in a very safe and strong position and we have a young, exciting team working hard to deliver quality football and success for our supporters, as they did on Friday evening with a magnificent performance. This is what we want to be talking about and this is what we want to celebrate.
"Celtic has a proud 125-year history and fundamental to that history have been our fans. Our supporters enjoy a wonderful reputation earned across many years, many families and many generations. This is something we must protect vigorously."
Police Scotland made no arrests inside Fir Park but have said they are reviewing CCTV footage to identify those responsible.
They confirmed the use of 18 smoke bombs, three fireworks and one flare.
Earlier on Monday, SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster condemned the behaviour of Celtic supporters as the league started an investigation into events.
He said: "We have already been in touch with both clubs and the police following the disturbances during Friday night’s fixture at Fir Park.
"We absolutely condemn this type of behaviour. It has no place in the game.
"We are confident that the police and both clubs will play a full part in helping to identify those involved in what were shameful scenes.
"We expect the SPFL Match Delegate report to be with us within the next 24 to 48 hours.
"The SPFL will work closely with our colleagues at both clubs and with the police as part of a thorough investigation into Friday night’s events."
STV understands a decision on whether action will be taken by the league is expected to be made within the next seven days.

Celtic in hot water over vandalism

The Scottish Professional Football League could take action against Celtic when its match delegate's report lands at Hampden and reveals the extent of the vandalism and pyrotechnic displays which marred their win at Motherwell.

An estimated £10,000 worth of damage was caused to seating in the middle lower area of the South Stand at Fir Park, just above where a Green Brigade banner was displayed.

A flare was let off in the same area before the game while two green smoke bombs were thrown into the goalmouth, one of them landing yards from Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

A missile also flew from the Celtic support not far over the head of the England goalkeeper just after Kris Commons opened the scoring in Celtic's highly-impressive 5-0 Scottish Premiership triumph.

While Celtic are preparing to take on Barcelona in their final Champions League game of the season on Wednesday, the Nou Camp clash has, for now, been overshadowed by scenes Celtic described as 'appalling'.

Police Scotland is looking into the 'significant damage' caused to seats and it counted 18 smoke bombs, three fireworks and one flare were set off. No arrests were made inside Fir Park.

Celtic have launched their own investigation while the Green Brigade fans group has also condemned the vandalism and admitted it should have self-policed its section more effectively.

A Green Brigade statement read: 'Firstly we do not condone the breaking of seats nor do we welcome pyrotechnics being thrown on the park. We as a group are as disappointed as any about such indefensible behaviour and regret that it happened on our watch.

'Whilst it was not members of our group behaving in this manner, we accept the fact that these actions took place behind our banner in what was an unofficial "Green Brigade section" and furthermore that the fans within this area are associated to our group whether they are members or not.

'It is particularly disappointing given how hard we have worked as a member organisation of Fans Against Criminalisation and of our own accord to fight the criminalisation of football supporters as we realise the damage that the events of Friday night could have on our efforts to challenge the continued harassment of Celtic fans by Police Scotland.

'Ultimately, we should have had greater control of the bodies present within our block and our failure to do so has resulted in events which are unacceptable and we will strive to ensure that such scenes are not repeated.'

The main Celtic fans' group, the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs, expressed frustration at the actions.

A statement read: 'We should be discussing another devastating Celtic performance on the pitch instead we are talking about disappointments off the field.

Let's make no mistake that incidents like (Friday) night at Fir Park and the publicity that this attracts makes any negotiations regarding ticket pricing, safe standing and policing at games more difficult.

'Any payment for damage and fines that are the responsibility of the club are ultimately paid by us. This is a measurable cost. The damage to our reputation as a support is unquantifiable.

'In a time when we are fighting to reduce ticket prices, fighting against the Offensive Behaviour Act and trying to make the game more attractive to the thousands who fans who have lost interest (Friday) night is nothing short of disheartening and does nothing to help.'

Cheap loans for Celtic

The Co-operative Bank has come under fire for dishing out £33.2million in cheap loans and overdrafts to Celtic Football Club, which was chaired by former Labour home secretary John Reid.

MPs last night demanded an explanation for the rock bottom interest rates and accused the mutual of using the ‘hard-earned cash of millions of savers for political gain’.

It is the latest twist in the row over the troubled lender’s links with the Labour Party.

Glasgow-based Celtic was chaired by Lord Reid, the former home secretary under Tony Blair, between 2007 and 2011.

Labour’s former energy minister Brian Wilson joined the Celtic board in 2005 and remains a director.

Insiders said the loan pre-dates both Wilson and Reid’s arrival at the club.

But Celtic has long-established links with Labour, which has controlled Glasgow City Council since the 1970s.

The latest company accounts for Celtic show it has a £12million overdraft facility charging an average of 1.5 per cent over the year to June 30 2013.

This is based on one percentage point above the Bank of England’s base rate, which is currently 0.5 per cent.

The remainder is made up of a £21.2million long-term loan, with an average rate of 1.65 per cent. This makes even Labour’s recent £1.2million cheap loan at 4 per cent – or 3.5 per cent above Base Rate – look expensive.

Co-op’s hugely generous terms once again highlight the close links between the scandal-hit lender and the upper echelons of the Labour Party.

The political connection has come under the spotlight after former Labour councillor and former Co-op Bank chairman the Reverend Paul Flowers was caught out allegedly organising drug-fuelled orgies with rent boys.

Mark Garnier, the Conservative MP and member of the Treasury Select Committee, said: ‘The questions about Labour’s influence over the management of the Co-op knows no limit. It now seems that cheap loans are available to organisations where Labour ministers have significant influence as well as directly to the Labour Party itself.’

He added: Why were Labour and their friends receiving cheap loans? What political outcomes was the Co-op trying to buy? Were the millions of savers at the Co-op bank told their hard-earned cash was being used for political gain? Have any of the Labour-related soft loans contributed to the £1.5billion black hole in the Co-op balance sheet?’

The first deadline to vote on a rescue package to plug a £1.5billion black hole in the lender’s finances falls at 4.30pm on Friday.

The Co-operative Party, the political wing of the Co-op, is the sister party of Labour.

In order to help shore up its finances Co-op Bank stopped lending to small firms in May.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ibrox ban on Celtic fans

Thursday 27 January 1994
CELTIC supporters have been banned indefinitely from Ibrox, which Rangers claim has been vandalised once too often.
Rangers say it has cost them more than £20,000 to repair damage caused by Celtic ticket holders at Old Firm matches played at Ibrox since March 1992.
Rangers add that several attempts have been made to persuade Celtic that they should accept responsibility for their supporters' behaviour.
''With reference to the most recent encounter, on October 30, 1993, we have been corresponding with Celtic on a regular basis,'' said Rangers' chairman David Murray, ''and it is perfectly clear from their letters that they accept no responsibility whatsoever for this vandalism. The cost following that match to repair damage was #7800 and we can no longer tolerate this type of destruction.''
Mr Murray added: ''The board of directors has taken the decision to withhold all ticketing allocations to Celtic Football Club in respect of our next scheduled league match at Ibrox on Saturday, April 30. Tickets will be available only to Rangers supporters.
''We regret the matter has reached this point. However, due to the intransigent attitude of Celtic Football Club and their lack of responsibility with regard to the behaviour of their supporters' behaviour, we believe no other course of action is now available to us.'' Rangers wrote to Celtic on Tuesday informing them of the ban.
Celtic chairman Kevin Kelly said: ''This matter was raised at the Scottish League management committee last week when it was agreed that clubs should be responsible only for their own grounds.
''We have suffered damage at Celtic Park but prefer to keep it quiet rather than draw attention to the kind of people who do these things. However, banning another club's fans is a dangerous action to take.''
Mr Murray says that the problem hit him suddenly while he was writing a cheque for #142,000 to be paid to Celtic for Rangers' ticket allocation at the last Old Firm match at Celtic Park on New Year's Day. It struck him that he was collecting for Celtic when in return their fans go to his ground and cause damage.
''They don't buy our programmes or eat our fast food. But they do smash our seats,'' he said.
Rangers also say that they have to pay an added #12,000 on their police bill when Celtic visit. Mr Murray does not fear a backlash with Celtic refusing to give tickets to Rangers' fans. He knows, of course, that Celtic, who are more than #5m in debt, cannot afford to go without the money generated by Rangers' supporters.
Mr Murray also knows he can sell out Ibrox when Celtic play even without their supporters.
There is no law in the game which states that clubs must give their opponents tickets and Mr Peter Donald, secretary of the Scottish League, said: ''It is most unfortunate and there is no doubt that part of football's attraction is the atmosphere which can be generated by supporters of opposing clubs.''
Mr Gerry Madden, general secretary of Celtic FC supporters' association, said he was surprised at the move. His group has spoken to the police seeking a solution to the vandalism and added: ''If someone would give us the sophisticated video evidence which Rangers say they have, perhaps we could do something.
''I hope there will be a change of heart because this is supposed to be the greatest club game in the world.''
Mr Peter Rafferty, chairman of the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters' Clubs, said: ''We have to hope this is not an end to the matter and that there will be room for some kind of compromise.''

Ibrox ban on Celtic hits youth match

Tuesday 12 April 1994

THE dispute between the Old Firm, with Rangers refusing Celtic's supporters entry to Ibrox, has spilled over into a youth match which will be played at Ibrox this evening forcing Celtic to make the strongest possible protest to the Scottish Football Association.
Rangers, who claim Celtic's fans have been causing damage to their stadium over the past 10 years, are refusing to allow opposition supporters into seated areas during tonight's BP Scottish Youth Cup semi-final tie, a decision which has disappointed and angered the directors at Parkhead.
Rangers are demanding more than £7000 compensation from Celtic, claiming their fans caused damage to seating in the Broamloan Stand, and when the Old Firm meet at Ibrox on Saturday, April 30, there will be no Celtic fans in attendance.
However, Celtic's directors felt that the dispute would have been set aside this evening, when they say their supporters will be mainly family groups wishing to do no more than watch youngsters play in the under-18 cup competition. But despite negotiations, faxes, and approaches to the SFA, under whose auspices the BP cup is run, Celtic have been told they can use the east standing enclosure in front of the main stand.
Only if more fans than that area can accommodate -- 3462 -- turn up will Rangers allow part of the stand to be opened up to Celtic's fans.
Naturally, Celtic believe Rangers are extending the ban imposed for major games and came close to withdrawing from the tournament, but decided to play on because it would have been unfair on their own younger players, who will be trying to win a place in the final against Airdrie.
''However, we feel we must protest over the manner in which our supporters are to be treated at Ibrox for this match,'' said director Dominic Kean. ''After all, the youth cup is a time when we should be celebrating the good things in football, and should have nothing to do with the game's politics. People, families, want to go and watch their own playing a game.''
Jim Farry, chief executive of the SFA, said that, under the circumstances, there would be a degree of sympathy for Celtic within the association and added: ''Two heads need to be knocked together, one at Ibrox and the other at Celtic Park. Someone should be doing the knocking, and soon.''
Relations between the clubs could be improved at the weekend when Brian Dempsey returns from the US.

Celtic fans putting "lives at risk"

YOU couldn’t give a section of Celtic’s support a red neck with a blow torch, never mind the green flare they threw on to the pitch at Fir Park.

There they were with their banner asking that Nelson Mandela, the ultimate man of peace, be allowed 
to rest in peace.

And then they got on with the wanton damage that saw seats destroyed while Motherwell boss Stuart McCall was subjected to chants about being a “sad Orange b*****d”.

Some people just have no sense of irony. The team the misguided had paid to watch is currently in the best form it has enjoyed for a long time.

But the football is never enough for those who have taken a weird turn since Rangers went into liquidation.

The obsession with insisting that Gers died – and the current side has a history 18 months old – has come with an arrogance that was unpleasant to watch at Motherwell.

Lennon said his heart sank when he saw the banners depicting William Wallace and Bobby Sands which disfigured the Champions League game with Milan.

Now the manager and his chief executive, Peter Lawwell, have to speak out against supporters who are blemishing the club’s reputation.

Celtic have just updated and republished the book detailing their history over the last 125 years – and it is a story well worth the telling.

A team started for charitable purposes has always had what their greatest captain Billy McNeill described as a fairytale aspect attached to it.

Celtic’s appearance in the Nou Camp on Wednesday night vouches for their decent standing in Europe.

And the derision their efforts receive from the rival support at Ibrox is an irrelevance since that is based on the need for something to camouflage their current, lower-league status.

It is as unthinking as the damage that’s being done to Celtic’s good name by the unruly element who will now make their club the object of the SPFL’s attention.

But all of that unwanted attention is meaningless to the vandals, flare throwers and obscene chanters.

If you can embarrass your club while the team is 5-0 up then you don’t do sober reflection.

And what’s even worse is that any attempt to draw attention to the supporters’ misbehaviour is always met with a hostility based on a belief that no such incidents ever happened, or could happen, where the Celtic support is concerned.

There are signs of old-fashioned hooliganism returning to Scottish football. A flare was thrown on to the pitch during Rangers’Scottish Cup tie at Falkirk causing damage to the artificial pitch.

Money is a constant source of concern at Ibrox, particularly when serious-minded men-in-the-know don't rule out the possibility of a second insolvency event.

So how regretful should the culprits feel when they see to it that a cheque for damages has to be forwarded from Ibrox to Falkirk?

The answer is they’ll probably feel no remorse whatsoever and they won’t until somebody does something to halt a growing menace.

The Old Firm game used to be a safety valve that was periodically released to take the steam out of a poisonous rivalry.

Now they live separate lives and the result has been the misfits have to release their troublesome instincts in another way.

Confession, they say, is good for the soul. The first thing the majority of decent Celtic fans have to admit 
is they don’t recognise the kind of person they can find beside them today.

I also got a close-up look at Motherwell’s incendiary division last weekend because they were fouling the air, and making a nuisance of themselves, in the vicinity of the press box at Hamilton’s ground.

They go through their dance routines then let off their toys, at which point several people emerge from the crowd to film their smoke-shrouded pals on their mobiles.

Older Well fans, meanwhile, were congregated well away from them and getting progressively more irked by their team’s performance.

They made displeasure known in the traditional, verbally-colourful manner then started to leave before Albion Rovers scored the winner.

But the dance troupe didn’t have any real sense of how badly their team had played due to the fact they didn’t appear to be that bothered by what happened on the pitch.

In the meantime they had caused damage to seats belonging to the club who hosted their game as a courtesy to both Lanarkshire neighbours.

That will cost Well money they shouldn’t have to pay at a time when every penny’s a prisoner.

Those supporters also threw another canister on to the pitch, forcing the people in wheelchairs to take evasive action.

You’d think supporters of a club whose manager was involved in a stadium disaster that claimed the lives of 56 people because of a fire would consider his feelings before setting light to canisters in a stand containing thousands of their fellow supporters. One of the most harrowing conversations I’ve ever had with McCall recounted his memories of that day in Bradford.

The hand-burning sensation he felt when he tried to open his car door two hours after the dead and the dying had been removed to hospital.

The search for his father that ended in a case of mistaken identity when Stuart was pointed in the direction of a man with first-degree burns.

He had only recovered from a deep sense of shock in the hospital ward when he heard his dad whisper: “Son, I’m over here.”

Now McCall is working in an environment where we’ve started to breed our own pyromaniacs.

It is an offence to enter, or attempt to enter, a football ground while in possession of a flare, smoke canister or firework.

Possession of either one carries a custodial sentence if the court believes that’s in order.

So why are so many being allowed to endanger health and safety on a regular basis?

That’s as much of a mystery as the suggestion that McCall has destroyed his own managerial reputation because his team had an off-day in a Scottish Cup tie.

Put that in your canister and smoke it.

SPFL Delegate: “The worst vandalism I have seen inside a football ground”

CELTIC have strongly condemned the behaviour of some of their supporters for the vandalism and pyrotechnics that marred the club’s 5-0 victory over Motherwell at Fir Park on Friday night.

In a statement issued yesterday the Parkhead club said: “Clearly we are appalled by the scenes from last night’s match and the actions of a small minority which have again tarnished the great reputation of the club and our supporters on a night when 
our team produced such a fantastic performance.

“We are currently investigating these events and will update our supporters early next week.”

Around 60 seats were broken in the away end at Fir Park and 18 smoke bombs, three fireworks and a flare were thrown. Alan Dick, the Scottish Professional Football League’s match delegate, described it as “the worst vandalism I have seen inside a football ground”, in his report.

The incidents could represent the tipping point for the Green Brigade. Pictures of broken seats emblazoned with stickers bearing the group’s name were posted on Twitter yesterday, as was a picture of one fan deliberately kicking at a seat and other snaps of supporters covering their mouths to shield them from the effects of smoke bombs. It was reported that some of the seats with Green Brigade stickers had IRA slogans scrawled on them. Another had “f*** Lawwell” written on it – a reference to Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.

Celtic will be expected to foot the bill for the damage to seats under a reciprocal agreement between clubs but could also find themselves facing a Scottish Professional Football League investigation once the league studies its delegate’s report.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “During the course of the match, 18 smoke bombs, three fireworks, and one flare were set off.

“Significant damage was caused to seats within the ground and we are looking into this matter along with the club to establish the circumstances. There were no arrests made inside the ground.”

As well as being wanton vandalism and hooliganism, these acts seem deliberately designed to provoke confrontation. The Green Brigade have become a magnet for thugs who want to cloak themselves in the garb of “pyro Provos”. The reality is that these juvenile delinquents muddy the waters, using the Irish nationalist dimension as an excuse to get their kicks from anti-social behaviour that, to their glee, puts them on a collision course both with their football club and the authorities.

Celtic attempted to ride the tiger with the Green Brigade. Now it would appear they must seek to slay it. Yet the dilemma is that, if they do, they will give the members of that organisation precisely the martyrdom they seek. In their warped minds, a blanket ban would make them the footballing equivalent of the men they celebrate in their roll of honour paean to the IRA hunger strikers.

The conduct of the Celtic support has regressed markedly in the ten years since their behaviour earned awards from UEFA and FIFA. Some of the fan organisations have chosen to be in denial about that fact. Yet the evidence provided by incidents such as those that overshadowed the club’s trip to Dens Park on Boxing Day and their pre-season friendly in Brentford cannot be challenged. Celtic have a growing and serious problem with a sizeable element of their support. Followers of the club outside of that cabal are no longer willing to tolerate the actions of the serial troublemakers.

The Parkhead side are already facing sanctions from UEFA for a banner displayed during the Champions League match against AC Milan last month which compared William Wallace to Bobby Sands. UEFA, who forbid political statements at games, opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic for an incident of “non-sporting nature”.

Celtic riot - Tom English: The damage done at Fir Park

Given that those earnest young men of the Green Brigade are so fond of issuing statements, it was somewhat curious that they didn’t reach into their bottomless pit of indignation and release a missive that made it clear that they had nothing to do with the damage done to the seats at Fir Park on Friday night or the flinging of the smoke bomb into the goalmouth occupied by their own man, Fraser Forster.

Many assume that the people who brought us the self-indulgent, self-pitying banners of recent weeks were also responsible for the vandalism and stupidity of the wrecked seats and the thrown smoke bomb. If that was an unfair assumption – and Twitter has been awash with such certainty – then you have would have expected a statement.

Maybe it’s on its way, although they might want to address the story of yesterday which claimed that IRA slogans were written on some of those broken seats beside stickers carrying the Green Brigade motif.

In their efforts to highlight their persecution by police, where exactly does smashing up seats and daubing terrorist wording on them fit into the gameplan? Their protest against the Offensive Behaviour at Football bill and their objection to the club’s criticising of the way they are going about it was captured in another message on another broken seat on Friday night. “F*** you Lawwell” it read. Such an eloquent contribution to the debate.

In their next statement, they might explain the contradiction in their long-held claims of unfair treatment by police. If they are persecuted, as they say they are, then there wasn’t much sign of it on Friday night as this group of neds was allowed to smash up seats without a single policeman stepping in to stop them. Where were the police when needed? The Green Brigade bleat on about heavy-handed treatment. A heavy hand would not have gone amiss on Friday night. At most grounds yesterday if a fan stood up for long enough he’d get an instruction from stewards or police to sit back down again – or else. These Celtic louts were not just allowed to stand but also boot and smash seats without any of their supposed persecutors saying a word.

Given the events at Celtic Park, the Falkirk Stadium, Fir Park and New Douglas Park in recent weeks you have to wonder if there is some kind of unofficial competition going on among the supporters of Celtic and Rangers – and also Motherwell after their own antics in the game against Albion Rovers last weekend – to discover the nation’s dimmest fan. Let’s think about this. The Green Brigade bring opprobrium on themselves for their banner in the Champions League game against AC Milan. At this point, in the wearying tit-for-tat between sections of the Old Firm support, some dullard in the Rangers end at Falkirk decides to bring the focus back on to his own club by throwing a flare that destroyed part of Falkirk’s plastic pitch, an act that his club had to apologise for, admit embarrassment over, and make amends for with a payment to cover the cost of repair.Not to be outdone, some Celtic fans seized the initiative in the search for Scotland’s thickest supporter when they disgraced themselves at Fir Park.

What was interesting was the level of disgust from Celtic fans over the behaviour of those vandals at Motherwell. There was a similar level of exasperation among Rangers supporters in the wake of the incident at Falkirk. On Twitter you will always find extremists who are prepared to defend any action by “one of their own” no matter how harmful the behaviour might have been to their club – deflection tactics are in the DNA of these people – but we also saw a body of fans rising up against the actions of their fellow supporters. The message seemed pretty clear. They were fed up to the back teeth of these small number of idiots causing grief for the majority.

Celtic, as a club, have been too indulgent of this Green Brigade mob, too quick to celebrate them and thank them and swell their ego and create the monster of self-absorption. They have pandered to them for too long. They have listened, like we have all listened, to songs about IRA men in that corner of Celtic Park for years and have done next to nothing. But, once a banner is raised – just a visual representation of what they have been singing about for the longest time – only then do the club speak out in shock and horror, as if that kind of thing wasn’t the norm from that section of the ground.

In the summer, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said he’d had enough and had decided to break up the Green Brigade. He then back-tracked. If he didn’t know it then, then he surely knows it now. These fans don’t deserve his faith. Quite frankly, his tolerance of the supporters who continually land the club in bother is an insult to the overwhelming majority of those who back the club to the hilt – the real fans. They are embarrassed and angry. In growing numbers they are calling for the disbandment of the Green Brigade before they mortify the club any further. By indulging the minority, Lawwell, pictured, is doing a disservice to the majority.

A section of the Celtic support now think they are above the club, that normal behaviour rules don’t apply to them because they are the mighty Green Brigade, protector of the match-day atmosphere at Celtic Park and defender of their Irish identity, which, in song and in their visual displays, they seem to see as beginning and ending with war – or terrorism. These bhoys should take a trip to Ireland sometime. They’ll find that there is just a little bit more to the place than singing songs about Bobby Sands. When displays of republicanism are the sole manifestation of your Irish heritage, as it seems to be with these fans, then it betrays a desperately grim and narrow view of what it is to be Irish. Quite frankly, if they weren’t so pathetic they’d be laughable.

You would hope that Celtic have truly had enough of them this time. The Green Brigade might make a lot of noise but the people that Lawwell should be listening to now are those respectful fans who want this garbage to stop.
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