Celtic have issued an update on the stadium ban of the Green Brigade amid what they call “attempts to downplay safety related behaviour”.
The club also refute claims that the flying of the Palestine flag was the reason for their season tickets being suspended and say registered members have asked to no longer be associated with the group.
A lengthy statement detailing the issues was released by Celtic on Thursday, just over a week since they confirmed the ban over “unacceptable conduct” at games.
The statement says the club has evidence of the behaviours and have contacted Green Brigade members several times outlining their concerns.
It said: “As a result of the accumulation of unacceptable behaviours, the lack of compliance with the Ground Regulations, the Rail Seating Safety Code of Conduct and requests by the club, it is not considered possible at the moment to manage safety within Celtic Park with ‘Green Brigade’ members in the stadium. It was therefore necessary to suspend the season tickets of all season ticket holders who have registered with the ticket office as being part of the ‘Green Brigade’ supporters’ club.
“This is currently 267 people in total, all of whom have been contacted directly by the club to explain the consequences of such registration, including the potential for action against all group members in line with the season ticket terms and conditions.
“The club’s emails outlined actions that the club has taken in respect of the ‘Green Brigade’ amid the club’s ongoing review of unacceptable conduct concerning the group. These progressive steps, including removal of non-matchday access at Celtic Park, removal of matchday access at Celtic Park and suspension of access to away tickets, have culminated in the suspension of season tickets detailed above.
“Ahead of Sunday’s match versus Aberdeen at Celtic Park, the club wishes to provide our season ticket holders with a clear and accurate update on the rationale behind the steps taken by the club and the current status of the process.
“As the club has already stated and the group and its members are well aware, the steps taken and suspensions made have categorically not been imposed as a result of the display of Palestinian flags. The club has explained to the group in writing the specific reasons behind each of the progressive actions taken in relation to the group.
“These are based on very real safety concerns resulting from the behaviour of the group. Many of the behaviours have been going on for a considerable period of time, have resulted in previous actions in relation to the group, and are very well known to the group.
“The club has evidence of these behaviours. These behaviours have been set out most recently in writing to the group on September 14, October 4, October 20, October 23 and October 31 and follow on from similar issues being formally discussed and action being taken by the club against the group last season.
“No response has been received by the club from the group to these emails.
“The club is therefore disappointed with the attempts by the group not only to downplay the safety related behaviours, some of which the group has now publicly admitted, but also to conflate the reasoning behind the actions taken by the club with the use by supporters of Palestinian flags.
“That is particularly so, when there is evidence of the group using banners and flags relating to or connected with terrorist organisations involved in the conflict in the Middle East.
“The club considers that this approach is proportionate and reasonable while working through this important safety matter and is happy to discuss any aspect of the ongoing issues with supporters or supporter groups.
“Finally, as we have repeatedly communicated to representatives of the ‘Green Brigade’, the club remains open to communication and engagement on the wider matter with a view to returning to a situation where rules and regulations around operating safely are respected and complied with.”
The club said it wanted to highlight the following:
- 267 people who have registered themselves with the Ticket Office as being part of the ‘Green Brigade’ supporters’ club (and were made aware of the potential consequences of this registration) are currently suspended for safety reasons;
- The club is working through a number of requests from amongst that 267 who no longer wish to be registered with the group and will continue to liaise directly with these individuals;
- The club is also working through other communications received across the club relating to the matter and, following screening, will respond where deemed appropriate;
- Subject to specific action taken against any individuals found to be directly involved in serious instances of unacceptable conduct, the club will offer and process refunds for any match or matches missed due to this suspension;
- The third instalment of the UEFA Champions League package was taken by the club in line with the relevant terms and conditions, however, refunds will also be available for this match for any supporter who remains suspended for that match;
- In respect of Tuesday night’s match versus Atletico Madrid, no tickets were ever issued to or charged to any Season Ticket holder registered with the group;
- The club is willing to cancel the Season Ticket and process pro-rata refunds for any Season Ticket holder currently suspended should that individual so wish. Similarly, the club is willing to discuss the possible relocation of any such individual out of the Rail Seating Section upon request; and
- Whilst efforts are ongoing to resolve the current situation, and on a match by match basis for any seat subject to the suspension, the club plan to offer tickets free of charge to recipients who may otherwise be unable to attend Celtic Park.
In a response to the ban last week, The Green Brigade issued a statement calling the club “shameful” and dismissed allegations of unsafe behaviour as “laughable”.
The group also said it has “no regrets” over a show of support for Palestine and said the Celtic board had “shaming” the club with its stance over the conflict in Gaza.
The statement also accused officials of encouraging pyrotechnic displays in protest against kick-off times.
The Green Brigade have been contacted for comment in response to Celtic’s latest statement.
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