The press at large have the Green Brigade's Celtic protests all wrong; yet another stunningly misguided take emerges

By Euan Davidson

December 4, 2020

Ex-Rangers player and “boyhood Dundee fan” Charlie Adam has once again weighed in on Celtic’s current fortunes and split support.

Peter Martin, Tam McManus and Alan Rough joined Adam, formerly of Liverpool and Stoke City, on the PLZ Football Show.

On the programme (03/12/2020), they discussed various topics within Scottish football, but the Green Brigade’s banner provoked heated discussion.

Adam said:

“They talk about Peter Lawwell’s made £3.5m, yeah [sic]? That’s bonuses from Champions League football. Absolutely he should getting that, he runs a huge industry of football. If they two lads had to walk out of Celtic Football Club, Celtic would be in a bad, bad situation.”

“I think the statement’s embarrassing… small minority, the rest will be embarrassed by that statement. That’s not how Celtic deal with things.

[The Green Brigade] have to take a look at themselves. They’re letting Celtic Football Club down.”

Charlie Adam / (Photo by Alan Hayward/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Dissecting Adam’s outburst

Charlie Adam’s specious reasoning and flawed logic are beyond description here. Of course fans are split on the direction of Celtic Football Club.

But to suggest that everyone associated with the club will be “embarrassed”? Surely not. There are plenty of us unaffiliated to any Ultras group who are watching in horror at events this season.

As to Lawwell’s famed bonuses; if the club’s doing well, he’s the Chief Executive. Of course he should be compensated for his work.

However, we don’t think fans have no right to question whether Lawwell should be accepting extra millions on top of his wages from Celtic for simply doing his job. Least of all when the team isn’t performing.

Certainly not when money isn’t being re-invested to ensure Celtic have a top-level coach. Neil Lennon, as popular as he is with the support (and he is), does not fit that description.

We don’t need access to the payroll to assume that Peter Lawwell already earns a handsome wage.

When the global recession hit in 2008, the public quite rightly questioned whether bankers were right to claim massive bonuses while their institutions were collapsing. If your place of work is struggling, then clearly there are organisational problems there.

Clearly it’s not the same situation, but it follows that fans might be a tad peeved by the Chief Executive of a club with clear structural problems snaffling bonuses in the millions.

The fans came in their thousands / (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group via Getty Images)

General distaste of Ultra culture in Scottish football continues to mystify

Adam’s comments, echoed by the rest of the PLZ panel, continue a growing trend of distaste for Ultra groups within Scottish football.

In general, the press and clubs seem to regard the Green Brigade as a minority and a nuisance. The colour and volume of their support, as well as the charity work they do, go largely unnoticed.

That is, unless supporters are winning awards (FIFA). In that case, the Green Brigade are fine. Just don’t complain if things are going badly, right?

Noisy supporters, heated debate and atmosphere at matches are surely a gift for anyone covering the game in Scotland. To say they are an “embarrassment”, and to question whether the Green Brigade have a legitimate grievance seems harsh.

There’s nothing particularly outrageous about what the Green Brigade are doing. In England, Hull City supporters have protested against ownership (Hull Daily Mail). Ditto Coventry (BBC). Wigan supporters protested the FA (Manchester Evening News).

Why is it, then, that when the Green Brigade point out the years of complacency under the current regime, they are an “embarrassment” and a “small minority”?

England fans at Euro 2016. These aren’t Ultras. / (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)


Perhaps, the passion of the Green Brigade puts many supporters’ minds back to troubled days of the 70s and 80s.

In the era of Heysel and Hillsborough, Tartan Army pitch invasions and civil disobedience, football fans took a collective kicking from all corners of society. Plenty of stories about football hooliganism from that era are available on TV, online and in various books describing that period of football’s history.

In a way, I can sympathise with the instinctive fear. I don’t agree it’s entirely rational, but I understand it.

It’s because back then, when Soccer Casuals meat-headedly roamed the streets looking for a scrap, they were organised. These groups had names, branding and a clear identity.

Perhaps the return of Ultra culture, which is a distinct ideological entity, raises shivers down the spines of fans who lived through that time.

I get it, I do.

The Green Brigade display vs Cluj / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But to equivocate the Green Brigade with violent Soccer Casuals from that era isn’t just wrong, it’s disrespectful and damaging to the support as a whole.

If this is indeed the case (I’ve been wrong before), then it’s time we collectively grew up and realised that organised fan groups have moved on from the decades of violence and thuggery. These are people who organise because they want to take an active political role in the club.

Charlie Adam and his pals in the media can claim that Celtic supporters en masse will be embarrassed. But instead of getting angry at his comments, it’s time we looked at Ultra culture as a whole, reappraised it for a new era and maybe even encourage it around Scotland.