Celtic Will Not Be Forced To A Green Brigade Climbown By “Day Of Action” Threats.

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There is a wonderful scene in The Social Network, the brilliant movie about Facebook, written by Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing, when Jesse Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerburg is in a deposition (he’s being sued from ripping the idea off) and he’s staring out of the window when the lawyer on the other side of the desk asks him, “Mr Zuckerburg … do I have your full attention?”

I have no idea if the exchange that follows is taken from official transcripts or if Sorkin conjured it out of thin air, and I don’t know if Zuckerburg is, or ever was, capable of such condescension and contempt as Eisenberg musters for his reply, but I get a kick out of the scene.

“I swore an oath before I began this deposition and I don’t want to perjure myself,” he says. “There’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention. The minimum amount.”

That’s a little like how I felt when I read The Green Brigade’s latest statement, and the one put out by that other Celtic fan group whose name I have to constantly Google so that I remember it.

Nevertheless, I get that this is an important subject, so let’s be real about it.

The talk now is of a Day Of Action; I have an idea. How about this action? That they all get together, those of them able to attend the game, and go and watch the team?

A Day Of Action. To do what?

Because if they expect people to support this idea then they need to have an answer to that question. When you take action in the manner they’re talking about, there has to be a specific objective. So what is the objective?

To send a message? Wow.

I’ve been part of so many political campaigns down through the years which were designed to “send a message.” And you know what message almost all of them have sent? The one that says “we’ve got no real power here so we’re sending you a message.” Which in 99% of cases is one that those in authority simply ignore.

So, before you start, the objective has to be clearly defined and if you’re asking people to join it then that has to be something effective, and where its success or failure is measurable. I don’t see what that could possibly be in this case.

Right from the start, I’ve thought that The Green Brigade strategy of challenging the board was self-indulgent madness to nobody’s benefit. See, on the subject of pyro, where for a lot of people this thing began, their position has been manifestly ridiculous; the club should be willing to ignore the law, or to help them to break it.

And I keep on hearing how “it’s here to stay” and wondering how anybody can believe that position is acceptable.

If the police start searching everyone trying to get into a ground, causing massive inconvenience, how much support for that position will there still be? Less and less every week until it’s virtually zero. If the SFA passes strict liability and starts threatening to shut sections of the ground or deduct points, how sustainable is that position?

See, all through this one thing has been obvious; if the people in charge decide to get tough, this stuff will disappear almost overnight, or those who do it will suffer an ever-escalating series of consequences until it’s gone.

The trouble with Standing Up To The Man is that too many people don’t think through the power The Man has at his disposal if he decides to make an example out of you. To spit in his face when, really, he’s in the right is just lunacy.

If you’ll allow me a second movie quote, this one is from The Untouchables; it comes when Malone asks Elliot Ness how he intends to bring down Capone. “What are you prepared to do?” he asks. And when Ness gives him what he thinks is the right answer, Malone asks him “And then what are you prepared to do?”

And that’s the rub here.

I like a good campaign.

But you know what makes a good campaign?

A clear objective and an obvious path to victory. Otherwise, it’s pointless. You can’t have an obvious path to victory without the clear objective being outlined first, and if the objective is virtually impossible to achieve then there never will be a real road towards securing it, will there?

One thing is clear now; all the artifice has been ripped away and we’re left with the naked struggle for power. The Green Brigade statement makes it clear that all it is concerned with is being allowed back to Celtic Park on its own terms, a position which is patently ludicrous. They have given the club an ultimatum.

So all the pretence about Palestine and everything else has been cast aside; this is about Them versus The Club and they want wider support.

They can say all they like about this being about the general running of the club; they don’t really care about that, and the statement admits it. This is about Them. They are willing to ditch the idea entirely if they get what they want.

If this was about wider issues, if it was about the general state of things at Celtic (top of the league, defending two trophies, financially strong) then they’d be digging in for the long haul. But their list of demands really boils down to one.

And that’s where The Untouchables quote comes in, and that’s why this Day Of Action is a terrible move, born of weakness and not strength, and incapable of changing anything.

Because even if there was a clear objective here which most people were able to sympathise with – and “let us back in but don’t expect us to change” isn’t that – even if the cause was just and the club itself didn’t suffer, these guys face the same challenge every campaign eventually does.

People lose interest. People move on.

To be effective, A Day Of Action needs to be tied to a wider campaign, and who can be bothered with that?

A campaign in support of The Green Brigade’s right to act as it will?

You couldn’t find five thousand season ticket holders willing to join that; as long as the team is winning and we’re sitting at the top of the league few are going to care.

Even if you got that five thousand, and you asked them to “stand up for The Green Brigade” on the 10th minute or something, as a one-off gesture it’s useless.

Ask them to do it every week and the number who will be prepared to will drop game on game until there are a tiny handful left, and the rest of the ground will scorn them.

And I picked a very frivolous, very easy to do, action there.

The more you ask of people, the smaller that initial buy-in and the greater the drop-off every week until only a tiny hardcore remain.

Which brings you to Malone’s question again; so you’ve made your point, but then what are you prepared to do?

For most people, the answer will be the one it always is; not a Hell of a lot.

Even when the issue is life and death, most people have their own lives, their own concerns, their own priorities and it’s hard to get them to sustain themselves through a major campaign. And let’s be honest, this isn’t worth it for most folk.

Most people just want to watch their team, and even those who recognise that there are issues with the board and the way the club is run aren’t going to join a wider campaign when, in fact, Celtic is arguably well run and demonstrably successful with it.

That’s going to make any sort of sustained campaign nothing but an irritant to many, many fans.

This matter is winding to a close, that’s the reality.

Celtic has done exactly what so many of us have been predicting since these people first locked horns with the club, and the only way out of this lies with those who have been banned going to the club and promising to behave.

Short of that, The Green Brigade is finished, whatever its handful of members tell themselves.

They have not identified an achievable goal far less a roadmap for how to get there, and their threats about A Day Of Action will not make a negotiated settlement easier, if anyone at the moment was in the mood for any such thing.

What it has done is bring the end of this closer … but not in the way they intend.

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  • Magua says:

    A line in the sand had to be drawn somewhere. I despise the GB almost as much as I despise the PLC board. Almost. This group should have been shown the door years ago. I find it interesting, that some GB members are prepared to disassociate themselves from the group, in order to be allowed to attend games again. My generation of Celts knew how to protest. We had a lot to protest about. The hunger strikes in Long Kesh. The Miners’ strike. The Poll Tax. Anti-apartheid in South Africa. The anti-board protests from 1990-94. The day of action will probably consist of a few neds mouthing off, and letting off a few flares. As usual, it’s all about them.

    Hail Hail.

  • Finbar muldoon says:

    Green Brigade should play it clever here. Wait until March/April time next year. Just when season book renewals are sent out. Then decide what path to take. HH

    • Droopy McCool says:

      Yes hopefully decide not to renew. Clever thought though, threaten the club with 250 people not renewing. Wonder if any other folk might be interested in those tickets…

  • James mahon says:

    James you might not agree with the green Brigade per say and reading ur articles I don’t think you like them but from a person looking in and following celtic since I was a child the do bring a lot of colour to Parkhead The problem I have at the moment is the present people in charge seem happy to stay ahead of a poor Ibrox club and have no ambition to go further than that The forefathers of this great Club were far more Ambitious back in 1888

    • JimtheTim says:

      Also to James Mahon?? What planet are you on?? Our main goal is to stay ahead of The Rangers which means we are champions. Further where?? The plan under Brendan is to do better in Europe and stay Scottish Champions.

      What else do you want? We are in a poor league and we are limited by that. So what do you really want?? Maybe you want us to sell our souls to some Saudi billionaire???

  • John A says:

    You really have turned into a board stoogie

  • Bob (original) says:

    I don’t know anyone on the Board or in the GB, so have no personal insights.

    But, as just another supporter, I do know that this standoff has veered from

    embarrassing to pathetic.

    BOTH sides are to blame for tarnishing our club’s reputation.

    The Board has proven – yet again – that it is incompetent.

    With the support and guaranteed ST sales, the club can’t help but make money.

    [A separate argument is that PL underperformed as CEO – and his remunertion

    far outstripped the plc growth.]

    When the GB dispute is resolved, someone should get punted from the Board,

    because nobody will stand up and take responsibility for this cock-up / PR disaster.

    An incompetent, reactive Board which can’t handle off field ‘crises’,

    and blithely deceives the paying customers by implying that it now

    has European ambitions. 🙁

    has evolved.

  • JimtheTim says:

    The truth is they have run their course and no matter how many times they are given the benefit of the doubt always found a way to mess up again.

    As you said Celtic are the champions and currently top of the league, have a great manager and team, the club finances have never been better.

    There is also a waiting list of thousands, who like most supports go to watch football and support the players.

  • Sophie Johnstone says:

    Good god there’s more diplomacy in the middle east than there is between the Board and the Green Brigade.Where’s the adults in the room

  • SSMPM says:

    I’m all for taking a stance particularly when it’s led by a legitimate body, for legitimate causes, but simply said I don’t think they are.
    Some points may have validity but the whole lot lumped into one and a day or days of action? Na. I don’t agree with this current GB stance or statement of intent. I don’t know what it is you want me to stand with you for. I read the GB statement yesterday and thought exactly that.
    Magua I echo your comments. I was born at the start of the sixties of discriminated against parents by bigot backed British terrorists and their laws. They moved to avoid the troubles in the north to try to find a decent place to raise their children. They respected and fought for a more egalitarian society and to live the Celtic way. They backed MLK’s movement of peace, were anti segregation, anti-partition, anti-apartheid, and anti-sectarianist. Just causes to stand on and they suffered for it. I despised the witch Thatcher too of course, RIP Rick Mayall.
    I share the legitimate concerns of the GB re the plight of the Palestinians and this rip-off Celtic board that have to give more back to us fans than we watch currently.
    Happily being known as the Green Brigade and thus GB, shows how ill thought through the rest of it is.
    Their statement, their behaviour at games and the rest of their agenda is self-centred aggressive attention seeking at the expense of our fans’ good name. Paradise is not the place for that and if you think it is then you’re not worthy of my support. No more than this board is. HH

  • A Tim says:

    The green brigade are NO different from every other Celtic supporter, why do they think they have a right to dictate what’s going on within a club I love and have supported since I was a bhoy… Get a. Fuckin grip of yourselves.

  • Martin says:

    Ah now James , don’t underestimate the groundswell James, like yourself I have spent 4 decades in campaigning and Trade Union activity and I agree wholeheartedly on your point regarding an exit strategy but the vanguard can often lose sight of the workers so I would add a cautionary note here
    Many fans I know – across organised supporters groups- will join boycotts. That voice mustn’t be ignored so must be brought into the debate
    A house divided n aw that

  • goodghuy says:

    If they make a scene at Celtic park with threats and all the other things they have been accused of, then I hope Celtic jail them for it. I’ve had enough of them with their stupid politics, and they’re far left bigotry. Celtic is a club open to all, so anybody should feel welcome to be at our club, they are polarizing and have extremist views the same as the far right and far left bigots who were fighting down in London. If they can’t behave ban them for life it’s really that simple.

  • Michel McCartney says:

    The GB have an outsized opinion of their own importance, stop the Pyros, stop the stupid sectarian songbook[Roamin in the Gloamin ffs], stop the stupid hooliganism by a few and get back to supporting the team, and things would settle down.
    The board and football authorities hold most of the aces if you can’t accept that then I’m afraid professional football isn’t the game for you.
    While we’re on about it, is there no sanction being taken about that ridiculous pyro display at Dens Park a couple of weeks ago. All swept under the carpet as usual when it comes to that mob.

    • James Forrest says:

      Agree mate, that’s a big problem here, that one other club is allowed to do what it wants. But I always think if we get our own house in order we should be okay. Roamin In THe Gloamin’ … God, is there a more honking song on the planet? I hate it.

    • Frank Dougan says:

      I was in Jerusalem last month at The Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus rose from the dead. I wore my Celtic top and the Franciscan priests told me that Celtic fans behaviour has caused problems for them because Celtic are reputed to be a Catholic team yet these scum who are supporting Hamas who murdered and raped babies and children and Butchered innocent people and kidnapped children and old people are being Celebrated at The Holy ground Celtic Park have brought shame on Celtic worldwide

  • PatterMerchanto says:

    Enjoy some of their displays and they certainly generate an atmosphere but the fact they believe themselves to be more important than the average fan (which they do, no matter what they say as evidenced at every away game) and believe themselves bigger than the club has led me to the conclusion their inevitable defeat here is justified and overdue.

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