As everyone knows, the latest Green Brigade communique was released last night, and Celtic responded shortly thereafter.
The fan group claims it’s being persecuted by those at the top of the club, including by the former CEO and now chairman.
But the truth is, if Celtic were intent on taking The Green Brigade out of the equation they could do so, and they could do so easily, and they could have done so before now and with a minimum of fuss.
Celtic’s response made it clear just how much they have tolerated.
The only thing that surprises me about their statement is that they’ve not already removed these guys from the ground permanently. What Celtic alleges crosses the line in so, so many ways. Breaking into the stadium? Threatening Celtic staff? Why is the club permitting these people to be around for even one minute longer?
Claims of persecution are easy to make, and there is a willing audience to hear that our board are the source of all evil in the universe.
But it’s time some people took the blinkers off. If these people are guilty of even half of what they are accused of they need to be dealt with, because we can’t allow an element like that in our support. It’s just that simple.
I share a lot of their political views.
I write my political views on this blog.
Agreeing or disagreeing with their political stance or their banners or on Palestine flags are issues of no consequence next to their general behaviour.
We’ve had it all from these guys and every time the club allows one thing to go unpunished their behaviour gets worse.
But for just a moment let’s discuss their political stance, their banners and the flags.
Their politics verges on extremism.
I am not surprised that Celtic wants no part of it.
They claim that Celtic has now restricted their ability to make banners.
Well of course they have. When you put up one in support of a “resistance” which is at that moment murdering civilians what else do they think will happen? That banner was an obscenity coming when it did.
There is a growing feeling inside Celtic that this whole Palestinian thing is being weaponised by these people so that they can now openly confront the board.
Much of their statement stretches credulity.
At least one part of it appears to be fundamentally dishonest, and it’s the claim that they were only informed of the away match ban on Friday; how come I was able to write about it on the Wednesday night?
And where did I get my information?
From two of their own members, who were apparently very well informed as to what Celtic’s thinking was and posted it online.
They claim that the ban on away tickets is motivated by a desire to limit their political expression, but that’s nonsense as I’ve said already.
Anyone who is aware of what’s gone on at certain games in the last couple of years knows that something like this was always possible and always on the cards. In trying to get tickets for away games, The Green Brigade was no longer even willing to provide names and details for those who were taking them … that’s just ridiculous and I am amazed that the club was willing to put up with that.
Motherwell, frankly, made it impossible not to act.
Do I think the Kilmarnock banner helped crystalise thinking on this?
Of course, I do.
But it was the events priort to the Lazio game that were really the last straw for a lot of people inside Celtic, the moment where folk in our director’s box and elsewhere said enough is enough.
Still, it should be obvious that a fan organisation which puts up a banner like that and which still hasn’t even apologised for the hurt that caused to many, many people in our support and inside the club itself, is out of control.
What happened at Motherwell and other places away from home and which led to this ban has damn all to do with politics.
Manhandling members of the Motherwell staff, smashing security gates and trying to force your way inside a stadium for which you don’t have tickets and then telling fans who do have seats for which they’ve paid good money that they aren’t sitting in them because you and your mates have commandeered the section for yourself isn’t political by any stretch of the imagination.
When a fan group is photographing the police and actually identifying some of them by name and putting their details online, when they break into their own ground and threaten members of their own club’s staff, that’s not political either.
Let’s call it what it really is; hooliganism.
Our club is perfectly entitled to restrict the tickets of hooligans, and even remove them from Celtic Park if that is what it’s going to take.
And we should all be speaking up in support of the club if that day ever comes, and I cannot but conclude that it’s on the way.
It doesn’t matter anymore that none us of wants to be here.
Here we are regardless, and it doesn’t even matter whether you believe the club’s version of this or that of The Green Brigade itself.
When the club is accusing a fan group of behaving this way and they are accusing the club of intimidating its members and persecuting other fans, whichever side you are on you can see the writing on the wall.
The relationship between The Green Brigade and the club is effectively at an end. There is no going back to the way things were.
There’s no trust, there’s no respect, there’s not even the tinniest semblance of goodwill any longer. It’s open hostility.
And that can only end one way.
There’s no fixing what’s been broken here and if you believe the club’s version of events – and I know that 95% of it is true and assume the other 5% is as well based on that – then you must know how this has to go.
And I suspect that the vast, vast majority of our fans will support that outcome.