If Celtic Is Taking A Hard Line On Ibrox Tickets, The Reason Why Was Made Public Last Night.

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Regular readers will know that I have long believed, and long stated, that our club fully intends to honour its commitments on away ticket allocations, even when it comes to the Ibrox club. But there’s a steady drum-beat now which can only be coming from Celtic itself which strongly suggests that inside our boardroom there has been a major change of heart.

It looks as if we might be about to ban Ibrox fans from our ground after all.

What would have seemed like a shocking development just 24 hours ago now seems., in light of new information, as if people inside Parkhead have been pushed to a course of action we’d have hitherto deemed unthinkable. To understand why this is a major development you have to remember who we are as a club, what we stand for as a club and the reputation we guard for acting with professionalism and integrity.

If this was the Scottish media, I’d dismiss it completely for those very reasons. But folks close to Celtic are telling me the same thing and so I have to recognise that clearly there’s something major in the wind and that our club is on the brink of unprecedented action.

I wrote a long piece last night on why I thought that this was unlikely. I’m still not convinced that this is a path Celtic will choose to go down. But mark this; whatever our club deems appropriate in this matter should have the full support of every single one of us.

Celtic, for years, for as long as I’ve been watching them, has done things by the book. We pride ourselves on it. We’ve done things quietly, behind the scenes, and in a rational fashion even when some of us have thought that wasn’t in our best interests.

There are still people amongst our support, myself included, who frequently urge Celtic to courses of action that the club refuses to take, such as the banning of journalists and outlets who lie about us. Our club maintains an attitude of cool detachment and professionalism. When we believe that a point needs to be made and a message sent, we do it in a low-key manner, and most of these things are resolved as quickly as they flare up in the first place.

When it comes to our dealings with other clubs, and with the league in general, Celtic is fair minded and dependable. There is consistency in our messaging and in our behaviour; people around the SPFL table know exactly what Celtic will do before we ever have to do it, because we behave in a practical and, yes, even a predictable fashion … rationality is, and has always been, far less sexy than lunatic ranting, incendiary statements and playing to the gallery of goons.

Above all else, and this is the critical one, we play it straight. We know the rulebook by heart, and our club behaves with the utmost respect for the regulations. The idea that Celtic would knowingly, willingly, violate the rules of the SPFL … it’s an absurd idea and one that until last night I would never have believed possible. Now, I’m starting to.

All through this crisis, we’ve had one thing on our side and it’s not mattered a damn although it’s the most important thing. We’ve been in the right. We didn’t start this. We have never escalated this situation, or “kept it going” or any of that other nonsense which the media has been steered towards by Ibrox. We have behaved according to one very simple precept; we will treat you the way you treat us. No better and no worse. That’s proportional. That’s fair.

We have not been banned from Ibrox. Celtic has been offered a ticket allocation. If we’re now on the brink of banning their fans from Celtic Park, that is major. It will be the first time in this situation that we will have willingly acted in an aggressive escalatory fashion, and not simply against Ibrox but in a way that drags the governing bodies into the fray.

To understand why that’s a massive move, you have to understand fully what it means. It means that we’re giving up any semblance of the high ground. The media now has license to paint us exactly in the way they have wanted to since this started, and they’ve got their guns loaded as I write this. They can now accuse us of being the petty, vindictive club. We will be in open violation of the SPFL rules, and defying them to do their worst … that’s such a fundamental shift in the firmament that it should you make you pause for breath when you consider it.

We are about to openly violate the rules, and don’t care what the consequences are. Think about that for a minute. Take a deep breath. Welcome to Year Zero.

It means too that our club’s silence on this is just about over. We can’t take such a major step, we can’t make such a major move, without going on the offensive and that means that we need to engage directly with the media and the fans. We’re about to shatter every long-standing convention we have had as a club, and a reputation for going by the book which took years to build and will very soon lie in ruins. There’s no going back once it starts.

I’ve been writing about the away match ticket situation on this site for months now.

Have Celtic taken punitive action against a single other club? No. Have we told those clubs that we consider their behaviour a violation of long-term understandings and practices which requires a reciprocal response? No. Have we threatened those clubs with the exclusion of their supporters from Celtic Park? No. And we won’t.

Once you grasp the gravity of this, you have to ask yourself why our club, which is so boring and straightforward at times that the Madness Of Ibrox is something we watch with jaw-dropping disbelief, is about to act in a way which is more akin to how they behave than how we do. What in God’s name would push us towards this?

What has happened behind the scenes that we’re not only considering walking away from the negotiating table, but upending it completely?

And as I said earlier, part of the answer was disclosed last night with the publication of Ibrox’s proposed security “upgrades.” They include netting our supporters. They are, in effect, freely admitting that their ground is not a safe environment. They accept that their changes, that their policies, have placed our fans in danger and even as they do they propose a “solution” so grotesque that it makes you gasp in disbelief.

It is not a new solution. They offered it five years ago, when this saga began. Celtic rejected the nets, took the tickets, and this site has a proper go at our club for placing our fans in harms way. We should have rejected them there and then. To the credit of people at our club, we’ve come to realise the folly of ever having indulged this in the first place.

Fans being bottled will do that to you. Not to mention a club official taking a blow on the back of the head with an object thrown from the stand.

I guess we’re lucky that it wasn’t something much worse that finally snapped people to attention and focussed them on how serious this was. But it wasn’t much less obvious back then, when Ibrox proposed putting our fans in a “net cage” … right from the start their club has acknowledged that it has created a dangerous situation.

Now they try to pass it off as though it were reasonable. They try to pass it off as though it was no big deal. They propose more police – more cost to the taxpayer – and all manner of other measures like this, when they could simply change course instead and create a safer space for people to watch the game. Hell, they could attempt to weed out the lunatics in their own stands who act in such an uncontrolled and degenerate manner. They won’t do either.

They will continue to play Russian Roulette with fan safety until they are made to get a grip. That much is obvious, and so is the unspoken truth that it’s not just Celtic fans they put at risk with these measures. Nobody wants to talk about that.

What’s equally plain is that Celtic can’t, and won’t, continue to tolerate this.

We’re in the place now where the responsibility to our own supporters is the only consideration that matters. It’s also pretty clear that the governing bodies have abrogated their own responsibilities here by allowing this situation to deteriorate, and indeed spread, because it suits them to leave the regulations wide open for abuse and clubs acting selfishly without considering the good of the game.

That we’ve needed clear rules and regulations, and a minimum away allocation which is written in stone and offers guarantees to clubs and fans has been obvious for years and their inaction on it is only one symptom of their incompetence and cowardice and unwillingness to govern.

And when those in charge of governing aren’t willing to do it, or aren’t up to doing it, then what are the rules actually worth? What are the rules worth anyway when they are framed in such a fashion that they can be exploited, and worked around?

Why not simply call them out as a sham, and drive a bulldozer over them? It would be rank hypocrisy for the SPFL to attempt to sanction Celtic when it has allowed a manifestly unsafe situation to develop, on its watch, under its aegis, where we feel as if we’ve no choice now but to take drastic action. How dare they even contemplate it.

The media is no better, and I have no doubt whatsoever that they will attack Celtic relentlessly if we go through with this, but that has even less teeth than any possible SPFL sanction and with an even bigger brass neck. Even though there is zero dubiety about this, even though there is a clear-cut right side and a wrong side here, they have sought to paint this as a situation where both clubs are equally at fault, with some even suggesting that it’s down to us to settle it by accepting what we’re given and giving Ibrox everything it wants.

The media’s role has been contemptible all the way throughout this, and I don’t expect them to change that now. We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t, so whatever other factors may weigh on our thinking here, the media’s response should be the least of them because they have created their own narrative right from the start and they will continue to. They have no positive role to play in this, which to me is a disgrace.

They can stand on the sidelines, and revel in the drama, ignoring – or perhaps not even realising – that it’s now become a crisis, which they’ve played a willing role in fermenting.

None of these people has any right to pass judgement on what Celtic does next, or how we go about protecting our interests. At every stage in this there was an opportunity for the media to do its job and the governing bodies to perform their function. Every one of those opportunities has been spurned or scorned or pissed away. Ibrox has been allowed to place our fans in a situation which started out dangerous and last year became intolerable, and at every stage on the journey towards that Celtic has attempted to resolve this matter amicably and with open negotiations and honest engagement. At every stage.

Still the media blamed us for causing this in the first place and officialdom refused to intercede, even after it became obvious that things had gotten badly out of hand, even when our fans were being treated for head wounds. That was almost a year ago, and in the interim, nobody has done a damn thing to put a stop to any of it.

Ibrox treats our concerns with contempt. They offer sticking plaster solutions and demand that we accept unacceptable compromises with the wellbeing of our supporters. Their new solution is that we accept the normalisation of an abnormal situation with grotesque measures offered in mitigation, and which freely acknowledge what it is they’ve created here.

And since this is going to drag on and on and on, it’s possible that we’ve simply reached a point where we’re not going to tolerate it any further.

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  • John S says:

    With security concerns for visitors and staff Ibrox Park is not fit for purpose.

  • Zeddy says:

    The offering of previously proven unsafe seats is a big white elephant by Ibrox.

    Serious breaches of safety for Celtic fans and staff has occurred on several occasions.

    These have went unpunished by the football authorities.

    That’s the story. That’s it. End of.

    Both Ibrox and the authorities are not acting within the rules and I’m positive that everything in the background will have done by Celtic to resolve this

    Be certain that any action taken by Celtic will be held up by legal recourse in relation to these breaches by these parties. Celtic will know exactly where this will end.

  • Kevan McKeown says:

    Well written article. Personally, ah think it’s about time our club took a harder stance and the ibrox, sycophantic media can write whit they like, they usually dae anyway. That corner is a very easy target, wide open and the way the stands are situated around that area, from a height the biggest mug in the world (and there’s plenty of them over there) could easily badly injure somebody or worse, with a missile. Tae me, our club are showin they won’t be dictated or coerced by anyone. Especially by that institution or it’s media. We know what the origins of this whole situation are and the real reason why it began. Ibrox bein unable tae handle Celtic fans celebratin in their stadium after dishin out regular defeats and that really is it in a nutshell.

  • Terry Thomas says:

    The media haven’t been in our position, getting piss thrown on you, coins and lighters thrown at you and anything else they can find. Nothing gets done. No one is listening to us it just seems to be acceptable. When one of the coaching staff got injured by a scumbag it was all hushed up if that was at Parkhead it would be a different story it would be in the press for months and years. I would not go back after the way we were treated

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    James, Celts should issue a statement saying “Until we get the full Free Broomloan back, youse are getting f@ck all tickets to Celtic Park”.

  • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

    A brilliant piece of journalism James – And Thank You !

    If Only – If Only – If Only, Scottish Football Media’s crayon level writers would rise to your standards – Then I might just start to consider reading them after a Twenty year gap…

    However that’ll never happen –

    Thank The Lord for Football Blogs like this – Lang May Yer Lum Reek James – And all the other good blogs as well…

  • Joe Monaghan says:

    It’s about time and damn them all they caused it media lackeys followed as usual good on the board. Hail Hail.

    • Michael love says:

      Those fans that give up their seats get the away tickets that would be the best solution 7000 each away support but that is to simple

  • Jim Armstrong says:

    James can you get to the point

  • SSMPM says:

    I haven’t yet seen a Celtic statement confirming this action but if they do then the club has my full support for what it’s worth. The notion though that the rankers have not banned us from the midden is nothing more than a pretentious smokescreen. A lie.
    If they’ve acknowledged that they can’t ensure the safety of not just our fans, staff and that of ex players that are now pundits, under the current planning, then that is in effect a false presentation of the offer. A lie.
    Accommodation of the truth is one thing but a lie is a lie. They are practised at this, allowed by the split personalities of their brothers in the SFA, SPFL, media and press outlets to even present themselves as a club that was liquidated. Dead and buried as many of them showed in their headlines and pictures at the time in 2012 yet now the same club. Really?
    Seems that presentation offer of fan safety follows the ‘drowning man is not a dying man’ metaphor, well not ’til his last bit of breath’. Lying is the death of logic. They have all had their last breath and the reveal and acceptance of corruption is the death.
    The authorities will try to make us suffer for this no doubt. We can’t break the rules, only they can, but the truth was buried with the old club and I’m glad we’ve finally shown we have the spine to stand up against the haters and zombies in this pitiful country. HH

  • Bigchunkylardass says:

    If it comes to it, we could give them 3 seats at £10000 each, since there is no % or actual number oh seats written into the regulations, nor any comments on pricing either.

    Sad days though that footies got to this. The obvious solution would be what European games require – problem there, and I’m certain it’s why the spfl has done nothing is the design of the crumbledome – due to the stairs only being at either side of the stand, police Scotland won’t allow it to be mixed, given that if an emergency happens, like a fire, it would mean mixing both support to evacuate.
    So it’s either the whole stand on none of it.


  • Magua says:

    The way I see it, is that the club has grounds for banning the Ibrox supporters from Celtic Park:

    1. For more years than I remember, the blue mob have turned up at our ground, and repeatedly disgraced themselves and their club. Seats broken, toilets wrecked etc.

    2 The policing costs for such a small away support, must be astronomical.

    Tell the Huns that they can have 300 or so tickets, with 2 caveats.

    1 They must pay a fair proportion of the policing costs.

    2 They must post a bond of say, 500 grand, to be lodged in Celtic’s bank account. In the event the Huns cause any damage, they will forfeit the money, which can then be dispersed to various charaties.

    Hail Hail.

  • Stesano says:

    Go after this poison Celtic get that hell hole shut down!! It breaches health and safety fact!! Evidence is all there and detailed with idiots coming on to the pitch others being held back while attempt to remember Ccv goal last year ,racist chants and actions to Demble and Sinclair bottles, coins, batteries, throw at our players our physio head split open then a fan! Glass in our goal mouth no arrests for that in this day and age!! Not one their vile fans reported that scumbag says it all eh no cctv either Sutton and Lennon not allowed to work their! Which big fat DJ thought was funny! While Sutton schooled him!Oh and the ” banned song” that scum sing if they ever score the disgusting ” up to their knees in Fenian blood” men ,woman and children sing this 45,000 and pc plod does nothing!! Close down that cespit! It should be bulldozed in 2012 would be the best thing that ever happened in Brigadoon Scotland! But no too many inbred enablers need the ” raingerz”! What a place!! We need out of it ! They live to hate we never were about that we love our club we are our club! The posion are vile creatures I love never to play anything out that cespit because we all know they attack woman, and Childern for wearing green ! Thousands of horror stories even in holidays in Spain etc I hate playing or being near that vile poisonous club and its anti social ,vile horde of weirdos! They always been allowed to be the scum they are and we know why! Makes me sick to the stomach cause they won’t annoy guys like me believe that but they pick their targets see most are out cowards to another fact!

  • Stesano says:

    Not allowed to work there even and most are total cowards!

  • Thomas Daly says:

    Our safety as football fans,not hooligans is paramount and to that end we are not given a guarantee that will happen,is THEY just cant afford the extra security requirements that have to be put in place THEY started it not us remember that.

  • Thomas Daly says:

    Or what about the lady liverpool fan at the 1-7 game in Europe hit by a bottle in the face,no mention of that,so it’s not just our safety its everybody who goes there as an away fan.

  • Charles says:

    Totally agree 100% with you’re article the problem has been manifested by the club at the South of the river
    We can’t tolerate putting people into a danger zone well said.

  • Callybhoy says:

    Why aren’t UEFAs Stadium and Security Committee not getting involved? If ibronx is unsafe then surely the governing body should be involved,as a h&s professional if someone told me it was unsafe to do something then it stops immediately and if a realistic solution can’t be found it doesn’t restart until it can be made safe

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