Sometimes it’s necessary to sit down and talk to those who you’re in profound disagreement with, even those who you’ve publicly scorned.
Everyone knows that Celtic and The Green Brigade released statements last week which were highly inflammatory to those on the other side. Everyone also realises that a prolonged split does nobody any good at all.
That’s why one of the biggest decisions made at this club this coming week will not be a decision made by the manager in relation to the team, but made at the boardroom level in relation to the fans. The club made its position on the banners clear. The Green Brigade issued its response, a response which leaves no wiggle room.
They fully intend to turn our next Champions League game into a mass protest. That will incur UEFA sanctions as surely as night follows day.
The Green Brigade has basically told the club that it does not accept the judgement of those running things. They do not accept the will of Celtic as binding them. That very obviously cannot go unanswered.
It requires a response. I am dreading what that response might be.
Because it’s a public snub to Celtic, and The Green Brigade will follow up with action, and we know that. So, there’s no question of Celtic simply sitting back and allowing that to happen. The question is what Celtic does about that, how Celtic chooses to answer it?
As I said, the one thing Celtic cannot do is nothing.
Celtic could sit down and talk to these guys, and they could all come together again for the “greater good” but let’s be honest; what is the greater good at the moment? Celtic united? Celtic going forward as one? But on whose terms? That’s the critical question here.
The only reason to get around the table and talk is to agree those terms, and the most obvious and important question is this; who is in charge? Who gets to dictate what those terms and how they are followed?
The Green Brigade cannot be seen to be getting away with whatever they like. They cannot be seen to disrespect the rules of the house.
But Celtic probably doesn’t want to ban them either. At least, not yet.
Celtic could get them in a room and say to them, “this time, and then no more.” But who would believe Celtic when they made such a threat if they didn’t back up in the here and now? And why would Celtic allow this protest and not another?
The nuclear option, the one we all dread, is that Celtic shuts the section for the game.
If there are talks going on behind the scenes and they break down in acrimony I can see that being the solution that Celtic goes for, and in fact I could see it being Celtic’s decision whether there are behind the scenes talks or not.
It’s all well and good saying that an agreement in the short term would “serve its purpose” but in the end somebody will have to climb down from their high horse.
Because one side has to be seen to come out on top and Celtic cannot afford that to be a fan group.
I am really concerned about what might happen in the time running up to the Atletico game because neither side seems ready to back down and unless there are serious talks going on behind the scenes which end in one side backing down – no chance at all I don’t think – then we’re heading for a showdown … perhaps even a shutdown.
I hope I’m wrong.
I hope for sanity. Then I look at the world, and think “what are the odds?”