Celtic supporter groups, media and clubs unite in open letter to Michael Nicholson

By David Walton

November 23, 2021

Celtic supporters organisations, fan media and clubs, including 67 Hail Hail, have united to write an open letter to acting CEO Michael Nicholson regarding the potential appointment of Bernard Higgins in a senior security role.

Campaigners @FACKilltheBill highlighted the issue back at the end of October. This is despite the fact Higgins is closely associated with the Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act [The Herald].

The Act, which was repealed in 2018, has left deep scars and mistrust between the Celtic support and Higgins, the latter of which being an active supporter of the damaging bill.

A protest banner against ACC Bernard Higgins

And after Celtic chairman Ian Bankier refused to tackle the issue at last week’s AGM, 135 groups of supporters, clubs, and fan media have penned the following letter to Nicholson urging for it to be addressed:

“Dear Michael Nicholson,

We, the undersigned, wish to state our objection to the rumoured appointment of Bernard Higgins as a member of Celtic FC’s security staff. In his role as Assistant Chief Constable of Police Scotland, and as the national strategic lead for football, Higgins has been responsible for the policing of football fans for almost a decade.

In the period since he was appointed to this position, the policing of football matches has changed dramatically, with the introductions of intrusive surveillance, the widespread use of football banning orders and a determination to arrest fans on spurious charges. This has caused irreparable damage to the lives of many Celtic fans as well as to the relationship between the supporters and Higgins himself.

It must be made known that we will refuse to recognise or engage with Higgins if he is appointed, as his history makes him an unsuitable candidate to be tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of Celtic supporters.

We ask you to address this issue and to reconsider such an appointment”

It’s time for Celtic to act in the best interests of its support

It’s simply unpalatable for Celtic to even consider the appointment of Higgins. Not addressing this directly at the AGM last week was a major slap in the face to the supporters.

Once again it came across as the chairman and the board shirking responsibility. How on earth Bankier and co didn’t prepare a proper answer regarding such a key issue for the AGM is simply incredible.

There has yet to be an update from the club since the AGM on what steps are being taken next. We would strongly encourage Nicholson and the board to engage further with supporters on this matter. Show some strength and back the fans that you’re there to help serve.

The alternative would be diving into a potentially serious error without any consultation or care for the thoughts of thousands of Celtic supporters around the world.

The ball is firmly in the club’s court.