When Celtic released a strongly worded statement calling on some supporters to curb their behaviour at matches, some fans may have been taken back to a similar occurrence in 2017.
Back then the club had just been charged by UEFA for displaying an “illicit banner” at a Champions League qualifier against Linfield. They released a forceful statement condemning the behaviour, using very similar phrases to that of Wednesday’s release.
They said: “The club has been consistent in condemning such conduct on the very few occasions in the past when it has occurred at Celtic Park. It is unfortunate that such a small minority of the crowd at Celtic Park last night behaved in such a way.
“We know that the Celtic support will join us in condemning such behaviour.” (BBC)
The club then followed their words with action. That action was to close the entire bottom half of the standing section – where the Green Brigade were (and still are) situated. The next round’s qualifier against Rosenborg was played in front of 900 less fans and a noticeably more subdued atmosphere. The same applied for the ‘Trophy Day’ clash against Hearts.
Celtic may feel 2017 measure is natural way forward
Things soon returned back to normal and since then the Green Brigade have cleaned up their act, in terms of banners at least. However, the pyro problem looks like a more complex issue. The club and UEFA are against it, but vast swathes of the Celtic support like the ambience it generates, not to mention the TV broadcasters.
In their recent statement the club said they “will be introducing further measures in order to deal with this behaviour”. While further details weren’t given, you do wonder if another section closure could be on their minds.
It would be a real shame if we saw empty seats at an upcoming match. However, the club may feel that it is the only way they can get through to some fans. But these drastic measures often don’t bring successful change in the long term. They just punish fans in the short.