If There’s One Last Chance For Cooler Heads To Prevail All Who Love Celtic Must Take It.

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Rumour and counter rumour continue to fly about The Green Brigade and the situation between them and Celtic.

If, as one individual with links to them has claimed, the club has taken the action he described – which is essentially to cancel their tickets for matches home and away – then that decision will not have been taken lightly.

One social media posting, last night, from another member of The Green Brigade, appeared to confirm that they have been denied away match tickets for the next two games and they are still waiting for confirmation that the same applies to the Atletico Madrid game and subsequent matches.

That would be heavy, but it’s not as bad as fans being kicked out of their seats.

I did say in my article yesterday that this was an unconfirmed report. So is the second source. Both claim to speak for the North Curve; we’ll soon see if they do.

Last night, The Celtic Star said that they have been assured that The Green Brigade will be at Celtic Park for the Atletico Madrid game barring “unforeseen circumstances”, I actually find the news that they will be at Celtic Park as if nothing had happened absolutely astonishing.

Do we need further “unforeseen circumstances” to know that the club is certainly facing one UEFA fine in relation to that night and that it may end up with more than that?

And for all that, if in fact we’re not yet over that threshold then we should all breathe a sigh of relief because nothing has happened which renders this beyond repair.

Nothing has been done which cannot thereafter be undone.

There is a chance – and perhaps one last chance – for those involved to get around the table and, for the good of Celtic, sort this stuff out.

Look, I’m with the club all the way, although the longer the club is prepared to indulge blatant rule breaking from one fan organisation they more they will haemorrhage credibility.

If the night of that game turns into something that brings us into severe disrepute, then I would suggest that those running our club only have themselves to blame for that. They cannot claim that the possibility of that has not been telegraphed in advance.

It has been. When a fan organisation tells you that it has no interest in toeing the line, and when it has done so publicly, you’re out of excuses if you allow them free reign.

Celtic’s writ has to run and whilst nobody wants to see a fan organisation banned from the ground, in any way, shape or form, it is fair to ask how long those fans who are content to play by the rules of the house have to share that house with those who don’t.

If any individual Celtic supporter cost the clubs tens of thousands in fines they would be gone. No fan group should have that much power in the stands. The club is inviting disaster by allowing this to go unchecked.

Still, bans are an option that should only come into play when all other avenues have been utterly exhausted.

There are some who will say Celtic has done enough, that if Celtic have not yet come to the point where their tolerance is at an end that they soon will.

Fine, I agree with that, but if there’s room for one last shot at a solution then it should be embraced.

Celtic is going to have to give these guys a little leeway, and even backing, just so long as they stay within the rules.

And maybe even when they stray outside of a certain one.

So let me say now that in my view there is not the slightest justification for UEFA fining Celtic fans for flying Palestinian flags . I don’t think it’s a secret that I care deeply about the Palestinian people and I think it would be proper if our club forced UEFA to defend any such fine that they imposed.

I am not asking for a full court press. As I’ll explain in a while that’s an extremist position and is fit only for the lunatics.

I am asking that Celtic ask for an explanation, and for a justification for that action. I know what UEFA will say, we all know what they will say, but this one time we should make them have to say it publicly and face the scorn that comes with it, from much of world football.

We would not be alone in considering it outrageous.

I would love to see Celtic fight the club’s corner better on this single issue.

The idea that we should be fined over the flying of a national symbol recognised by the UN is ludicrous, as I’ve written before. When you consider what Ibrox supporters got away with not that long ago it is actually offensive.

Banners are different.

The rules on some of those are clear and The Green Brigade has gone way over the score on several occasions, and we all know it.

But I don’t think the wording on certain banners should be an area of no compromise. There’s a middle ground on something like that, and a little bit of common sense would get us there. There has to be better communication on this stuff, and if there is then we’d be in a better place.

Celtic would never have permitted that banner at the Kilmarnock game had they known what was on it … in my view they should have known what was on.

That’s a breakdown on both sides.

In other areas, though, there is simply no room for negotiations at all.

Pyro is one of them.

That we’re even still having a discussion about whether something that is both unsafe and illegal should be tolerated by the club is beyond ridiculous to me. The stadium guidelines are one thing. The law of the land is another thing entirely.

UEFA will close sections of the ground for that stuff, they’ve done it elsewhere, and Police Scotland continue to be concerned.

The law is not going to change, so even if Celtic was minded to discuss “safe pyro” and other such things – which they aren’t – there would be no prospect whatsoever of any of it being more than pie in the sky. It will never happen.

There is scope for asking UEFA to confront its conscience in certain areas, but not on that one and not on banners which are simply designed to be offensive.

The Green Brigade are not even the worst of it; there is some proper infantile garbage on a lot of forums and on social media threads about this stuff, demanding that we tell UEFA where to go; not paying fines, not criticising fans who break the rules, not following their guidance on banners or flags or pyro.

I like a good argument as much as the next man. More. I make my living from discussing subjects like this, and I was a political activist a long time and saw my share of campaigns and arguments on issues.

I would not voluntarily go into any debate with people like these, people so childish and moronic that they think our club should mount a full-on offensive against football’s governing body in Europe to no benefit whatsoever.

For starters, we won’t win. Not a chance in Hell. Not even close. We would not move UEFA once inch closer to any of those positions.

That £40 million coming our way for the Champions League would go to Ibrox instead because we’d be banned.

I mean even two seconds of thinking this through from action to consequences reveals how stone stupid it is … and I read this everywhere, all over the place, from people who apparently don’t know that 2 plus 2 makes 4.

And what exactly would we be risking all that for?

A small segment of our fan-base and their “right” to protest?

A right, which as I’ve written at length, is an absolute mirage, something that does not actually exist anywhere in the world.

There is no place, public or private, where such a “right” freely exists.

They all have codes of conduct. They all have rules. There are regulations governing every facet of that alleged “right” lest it be abused.

Celtic has two choices here.

Obey the regulations or suffer the consequences.

Those who demand that we not only pay those consequences but invite them have no right to make that demand as though it were on behalf of the rest of us.

I don’t want Celtic to behave in such a reckless, self-defeating fashion and few others in our supporter do.

This is a power fantasy for a lot of people, and they participate in it because they know full well that they’ll never have to suffer the effects of such a demand, because saner and more sensible people will treat it with the contempt it deserves.

But they can posture and look tough on social media in the safety of that fact, and that’s what they do.

Others claim that the club is acting in a dictatorial manner. In light of last night’s stories, I fail to see where. But eventually they might have to.

What choice will they have?

Celtic is a multi-million-pound business with shareholders and corporate partners and legal responsibilities. If they are asking their customers to behave in an appropriate way and they don’t want to do it then something’s got to give.

Celtic has tried talking. Repeatedly.

Apparently they are still willing to indulge this behaviour, and as incredible as I find that, I find it even more incredible that people can accuse the club of behaving in a high handed manner when it’s obvious that the opposite is true.

How would you or I behave if we had opened our house to someone who was abusing our hospitality? When you break it down, we’re talking about a thousand or so people here, out of sixty times that number at Celtic Park every week. As hard as this will be for some of their acolytes to believe, they are not special.

For all that, I’m urging that if this hasn’t gone too far that both sides get around the table and try one last time.

If there’s middle ground which doesn’t cross Celtic’s obvious red lines then both sides should be urged to find it. But it’s the fan group that will have to step back from its all or nothing position here, not the club.

If The Green Brigade attitude is “f@@@ UEFA” then there’s probably nothing to talk about, because that’s untenable.

Worse still if their attitude is “f@@@ Celtic”, because where’s the potential for a reasonable solution then?

At that point they’ve told Celtic it’s their house not our house, and then I don’t see how the club a choice but to bring this matter to a swift, and brutal, close.

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  • Victor says:

    Hi Everyone. This is a tad long of a post, but I would appreciate any and all feedback on my questions. I do not follow Scottish football, but have always been fascinated by how Celtic tend to get headlines for the political views of their supporters just as they get headlines for their football achievements. From what I have read, and feel free to correct me, certain Celtic supporters are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause because they see similarities with the history of the Palestinian people and their own history. Can anyone tell me if this is just the Green Brigade or the general Celtic fanbase? Why do they so vehemently hate Jews? The history of Jews has not been easy or smooth to say the least, if you do your research, so I do not quite get the one-sided view, if similarities is what bonds Celtic supports to Palestine. I also know Celtic have had Israeli players, who are of the Jewish faith, in the past and present. How are they treated? If someone Jewish would want to go watch at Celtic Park, and they were visibly Jewish (like skull cap), would they face harassment? Would you advise them to not come to Celtic Park?

    • James Forrest says:

      Jews are as welcome at Celtic Park as anyone. We have a large number of Jewish fans and they are as vocal and passionate as anyone. I would imagine that if you turned up at Celtic Park and faced harrassment for wearing a skull-cap that the person or persons dishing it out to you would very swiftly get booted up the London Road.

      The Green Brigade don’t hate Jews. They may hate Israel but we know that’s not the same thing. I’ve given these guys nothing but stick over the last week or two but that’s not a valid criticism of them, not even close.

  • Victor says:

    Thank you for your reply, James. Before I respond, I must compliment you on your blog. The articles are well written and seem to speak to every facet of Celtic as a football club.

    I must admit, as a football fan and as an Orthodox Jew, I am thinking twice about visiting Celtic Park. You are correct that being anti-Israel and anti-Jewish are two different entities in theory, but to someone who is hateful and looking for a fight, they may very well look at me and presume I support Israel and hate Palestinians. Being an Orthodox Jew, I have very mixed feelings regarding the state of Israel. I do not want anyone to die on either side and would like to see both peoples have their own state that they both recognize and can live peacefully side by side. That may be a fairytale, but I hope I see that come true one day. From all the articles I read, the GB seem to be the type to pick a fight out of nowhere and that is frightening. I do not want to put anyone in a position to have to stand up for me and ruin a football match. It’s especially not fair to younger fans who just want to see their team play and are not well versed in the politics of the world. I have always admired Celtic’s footballing achievements. Met a Rangers fan once and they were not very pleasant to say the least. Always spoke about hating Celtic more than supporting Rangers. I was hoping to take in a match while being in Glasgow for a couple of days (hopefully against Kilmarnock). However, I need to think about this very seriously. I do not know if there is a way to reach out to Jewish Celtic supporters who go to matches and get their perspective on how they felt being in Celtic Park. I hope the tensions subside before that time and I can enjoy a match at one of the best stadiums in Europe. Cheers!

    • James Forrest says:

      Mate if there any Jewish fans posting on this blog they can get in touch with me and I’d be happy to share your email address with them if that’s fine with you.

      But I assure you mate, 100%, you would be not just safe at Celtic Park but warmly welcomed.

      Haha your line about the Ibrox fan made me laugh because I recognise that protrait of them very well!

      If it’s gonna be your first trip to Celtic Park make it a big game, cause the atmosphere is like nothing else! The best one I’ve been at was actually against the Ibrox club not last season but the one before when they had no fans in the ground! That night, under the floodlights, we went top of the league and the hero of the night was Liel Abada.

      He was magnificent. He destroyed them. Absolutely destroyed them, with a little help from Reo Hatate!

      Honestly mate, you’ll be in good hands and you’ll have a ball.

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