Green Brigade, supporters groups respond to rumours surrounding controversial Celtic hire

By Euan Davidson

October 29, 2021

Celtic fan groups, including the Green Brigade, have strongly responded to rumours surrounding the appointment of Bernard Higgins in a role at the club.

Campaigners against the Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act highlighted the issue earlier this week [@FACKillthebill]. The Act was repealed in 2018 [BBC], but its legacy has left scars and mistrust.

Higgins, the Assistant Chief Constable for Police Scotland, spoke passionately about keeping the bill to Scottish Parliament. He, amongst others, is blamed for a culture of Scotland trying to “arrest its way out of Sectarianism” [Herald].

It remains a sensitive issue. Higgins, so closely associated with the bill, is apparently being considered for a security role at Celtic. However, the club haven’t stated this to be the case.

In any event, Celtic supporters’ groups, including the Green Brigade, Bhoys Celtic, Celtic Shared, The Celtic Trust and the North Curve, responded to the speculation on Twitter.

The joint coalition said [North Curve Celtic]:

“We have recently been made aware that Bernard Higgins of Police Scotland is likely to be appointed to a senior security role at Celtic.

“Higgins played a major part in the vicious implementation of the much-hated Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act and passionately defended the legislation within the Scottish Parliament.

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“As Assistant Chief Constable, Higgins’ remit involved strategic decisions on the policing of football across Scotland, and he used this power to orchestrate a campaign of intimidation against the Celtic support.”

Green Brigade and Celtic supporters’ groups make statement against Higgins

The statement continues [North Curve Celtic]:

“Although we have raised these concerns with the club privately, they are unwilling to engage on the matter. We believe they have a responsibility to inform all fans of the impending threat that this appointment poses. Bernard Higgins is not fit to serve Celtic Football Club and we call on all fans to make this clear to the Celtic board.

“On Saturday, we will remain silent for the first 30 minutes of the match. This will act as a symbolic reminder of what Higgins attempted to do to our support and make clear to the Celtic board the level of opposition to his appointment.

“We call on the board to do the sensible thing and not appoint Bernard Higgins to this role. Otherwise, we will continue to campaign against both him and those responsible for hiring him.”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic have potentially misread the room at a crucial time

Why is it that whenever Celtic are making progress on the pitch, there’s an off-field distraction?

The Bhoys have been absolutely excellent lately, with Ange Postecoglou building a robust, attacking outfit. Why, then, if Celtic are thinking of hiring Higgins, would they choose such an unpopular name amongst supporters?

It reads as entirely tone-deaf. And supporters, particularly Bhoys and the Green Brigade, who make so much noise on match days, are obviously going to have feelings about it.

However you stand on the now-repealed bill, this seems like an extremely misguided move from the club. Given the policing problems Celtic fans have faced, Higgins’ name is someone that so many supporters won’t tolerate.

Clearly, supporters groups are already mobilising against any notion of this happening.

Read more: The under-reported Celtic streak that Bhoys could better against Livingston