A fan group has hit back at Celtic calling the club “shameful” after it banned them from all games.
Celtic “ultras” The Green Brigade dismissed allegations of unsafe behaviour as “laughable” and said it has “no regrets” over a show of support for Palestine.
The group accused Celtic officials of encouraging pyrotechnic displays in protest against kick-off times and said the PLC has “shamed” the club with its stance over the conflict in Gaza.
A statement was released by the Green Brigade, who are usually situated in the north curve of Celtic Park, on Wednesday after the club revealed it had suspended their tickets.
Tension between the club and the supporters’ group has been frequent in recent years but flared up again after a request from Celtic for fans to refrain from flying banners or flags relating to the conflict in the Middle East was ignored by supporters.
Celtic said it took action over recent events and detailed a number of incidents that had led to it banning the group, including “serious issues of behaviour”.
But the Green Brigade refutes the allegations and insists the ban is “undeniably” a result of the group’s “unapologetic solidarity” with Palestine.
The statement released on the North Curve Celtic X page said: “In recent weeks, Celtic supporters have proudly stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people, while the PLC board adopt a position closer to the far-right British Government, with similar attempts to censor and sanction Palestinian solidarity.
“As the death toll in Gaza nears 10,000, including almost 4,000 children – the PLC board have shamed Celtic Football Club with their conduct.
“It is undeniable that the sanctions imposed against those affiliated with the Green Brigade are a result of the group’s unapologetic solidarity with Palestine.
“The sanctions applied, most notably collective bans, are evidently unfair; bereft of policy, process and communication with individuals wrongfully being punished before receiving any allegation, any evidence nor any right of defence.
“While we expect any fair-minded person will see through the flimsy litany of allegations (shamefully attempting to use fan media and national press to do bidding on their behalf) there are some which
we would like to address.
“As an ultras group, known for boisterous support and creativity, we occasionally breach the assorted regulations which are in place to sterilise football stadiums. Whether it be an anti-fascist banner
against Lazio or Palestine flags against Atletico Madrid, we have no regrets in by-passing stadium security checks to produce displays which are clearly welcomed by the Celtic support as well as audiences from much farther afield.
“We categorically deny sinister and defamatory allegations of ”breaking in” and ”intimidating, threatening and abusive behaviour towards staff.” It is laughable that ”unsafe behaviour” is being alleged of the Green
Brigade at Saturday’s match at Hibernian, given Celtic officials were complicit in the widely-criticised security operation on the approach to the stadium which compromised the safety of our supporters.
“From erecting steel pens around the standing section which were later removed in interest of supporter safety, to actively encouraging pyrotechnic use at specific fixtures as means of protest at certain domestic kick off times, senior Celtic officials have repeatedly discredited their authority in this area. In the meantime, the club have instructed us not to liaise with the Supporter Liaison Officer, ironically against UEFA’s SLO guidance.
“While fans remain unjustifiably banned, with hundreds hugely out of pocket for the upcoming trip to Madrid, and while the PLC board is shamefully positioned on the wrong side of history, we encourage all concerned to voice your displeasure to those within the Club who are responsible for these decisions and sanctions.”
On Tuesday, an email to Green Brigade members from Celtic, titled “Rail Seating Section Update”, read: “You may be already be aware of the recent actions the club has taken in respect of the Green Brigade, relating to access at home matches and access to away tickets and the club’s review of unacceptable conduct concerning the group.
“Following that review, and further serious issues with the behaviour of Green Brigade members at the last two matches, the club deems it necessary to take further action in respect of the group.”
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